Skip Content

Penal power in America: Forms, functions and foundations

Publications • Law • David Garland

Full text posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 5, pp. 1-35.

Abstract: In this article I discuss the exercise of penal power in contemporary America with a view to explaining its historical causes, its contemporary forms and functions, and its social foundations. I argue that the leading characteristic of American penality today is not degradation, retribution, racial caste-making, or neoliberal discipline but instead the imposition of penal controls. The remainder of the article develops some hypotheses about the social and political roots of that distinctive form of punishment. Re-connecting penal controls with patterns of crime and violence, I highlight the deficits of social control and social capital that set America off from comparable nations and I trace the sources of these deficits to the structure and operation of certain American institutions as well as the limited capacities and patterned dispositions of the American state.

Keywords: penality, political economy, criminal violence, social control, social deficits, state capacity, penal control, mass penal control.

British Academy Law Lecture, read 7 June 2016 (audio recording)

Info

Publication date: 18 Jan 2017

Author: David Garland

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.5871/jba/005.001

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close