Speaker: Fernando Avila, Brock University, Canada

Abstract:

The creation of the “entrepreneurial prisoner” aligns with neoliberal governmental rationality, emphasizing freedom, choice, and market-driven social organization. While scholars from the Global North have primarily observed this phenomenon in English-speaking nations, this paper extends the analysis to Punta de Rieles, a non-traditional prison in Montevideo, Uruguay.

In this Latin American context, a unique blend of individualizing and collectivist dynamics prevails. The authorities of Punta de Rieles use responsibilization to encourage inmates to adopt behaviors deemed “positive,” yet the prison also integrates communal and mutual aid practices. The prisoners’ solidarity fund exemplifies this coexistence, acting as a community bank offering interest-free loans to inmates starting new businesses without requiring collateral.

Unlike typical neoliberal approaches, this fund supports mutual assistance and compensates for governmental shortcomings, balancing individual responsibility with collective support. By examining Punta de Rieles within its cultural, political, and social context, this paper adds complexity and nuance to the understanding of contemporary penality, particularly in the global peripheries.

Bio:

Fernando Avila is an Assistant Professor of Critical Criminology at Brock University, he is also the Director of the Latin American Human Rights NGO “Pensamiento Penal”.

This event is part of the Social Penalities Across Boundaries Workshop Series which has been co-organised by the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research and UNL in Agentina.

Photo credit: F. Avila