'Places of Punishment for Misery': State Institutions and the Contemporary Rabble in Austere Times

Posted by ap507 at Feb 05, 2016 09:40 AM |
This event has been cancelled

Please note, this lecture has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. (Updated 8 February 2016)


Joe Sim is Professor of Criminology Liverpool John Moores University. He is the author of a number of texts on prisons including British Prisons (with Mike Fitzgerald), Medical Power in Prisons and Punishment and Prisons: Power and the Carceral State. He is also a trustee of the charity INQUEST.

About the lecture

Professor Joe Sim will give the first Scarman Lecture of 2016. He will discuss three significant issues relating to contemporary penal and welfare policy.

He will begin with the argument that state institutions, despite some honourable exceptions, are built on the infliction of punishment and pain and generate deep feelings of despair, uncertainty and terror using the issue of deaths in custody to illustrate this point.

He will critically considers the emergence of the neoliberal reform agenda, exemplified in the policies pursued by Michael Gove. This development has seen a remarkable coalition between liberal prison reform groups, state servants and the Conservative government. He will argue that far from providing an example of progress, these reforms are more concerned with recalibrating social control and reinforcing state power. As ever, within this reform agenda, it is the poor and the powerless who are constructed as a toxic source of disorder and criminality. Central to this part of his talk will be a focus on the lack of democratic accountability of penal institutions.

Finally, he will argue for applying an abolitionist perspective to prisons. He will challenge the lazy and misplaced discourse that abolitionists are irrelevant to the current debate on penal policy. Instead, he will contend that abolitionist alternatives, and the idealistic utopianism which underpin these alternatives, rather than endless liberal reforms, provide a realistic vision for the future if the prison crisis is to be resolved, and future deaths in custody are to be avoided.

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