Probation and the Sociology of Punishment

SCCJR/Sociology Joint Seminar

Probation and the Sociology of Punishment

This seminar, jointly arranged by the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research and Sociology at the University of Glasgow, examines what sociological theory and research has to offer the study of a much neglected but increasingly important aspect of the penal system: probation.

Though sociologists of punishment and other scholars have produced numerous influential and important analyses of the growth of mass incarceration in late-modern, neo-liberal societies, few have noticed (far less analysed) the arrival of ‘mass probation’ or ‘mass supervision’. In the USA, for example, whereas less than a million people were under ‘correctional supervision’ in 1980, the figure today stands at over 5 million. And 60% of those are supervised through probation. How is it that a measure intended to reduce the use of imprisonment seems to have grown with (or even outgrown) mass incarceration?

This seminar brings together two leading US scholars to discuss these important issues, providing new theoretical lenses through which to understand probation and new empirical analyses spanning both quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

 ‘Probation and ‘The Penal Field’

Joshua Page, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota

Joshua Page is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of The Toughest Beat: Politics, Punishment, and the Prison Officers Union in California (Oxford University Press, 2011) and “Punishment and the Penal Field” (forthcoming in The Handbook on Punishment & Society, Sage). He has also published on prison officer attitudes and unions in Criminology & Public Policy, Women & Criminal Justice, and Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Along with Gretchen Purser (Syracuse University), he recently began an in-depth, multi-method study of the bail bond industry.

‘The Paradox of Probation–Understanding the Expansion of an Alternative to Incarceration during the Prison Boom’

Michelle Phelps, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology, Princeton University

Michelle Phelps is a Ph.D. candidate in the sociology and social policy program at Princeton University. In the fall of 2013, she will start as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. Her research on rehabilitative programs in the contemporary U.S. prisons has been published in Law & Society Review (2011) and the Journal of Criminal Justice (2012). Her dissertation analyzes the rise of probation supervision as a criminal justice sanction in the U.S. and its relationship to mass incarceration. The first chapter was recently published in Law & Policy (2013). Together with Phil Goodman and Joshua Page, she is currently working on a book manuscript, under contract with Oxford University Press, that uses field theory to provide a new perspective on stability and change in in U.S. penal practices.

Please note, places are limited therefore booking is essential. To book a place please email Emma Smith (Emma.Smith.2@glasgow.ac.uk)