Resisting the Carceral State: Prisoner Resistance from the Bottom Up

Jeffrey Ian Ross

University of Baltimore - School of Law


Social Justice, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 28-45, 2010

When an individual is sentenced to jail or prison, or given some other correctional sanction, the state has numerous moral and legal obligations including providing a modicum of protection and safety to the persons who are incarcerated therein. When sentences, especially jail and prison conditions fall short of these guarantees by failing to meet these obligations and protections, as they frequently do, numerous constituencies may respond. With respect to inmates, their reactions can vary along a continuum, from adaptations, to low intensity and difficult to detect protest actions, to overt and wide scale institutional violence. These later reactions can be easily interpreted as resistance to the crimes of states. This paper briefly reviews the most dominant and deleterious prison conditions in American jails and prisons, and the dominant forms of inmate adaptations and resistance to these crimes of the state. Finally, the article analyzes state responses to prisoner resistance, thereby capturing the dialectal nature of this process.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 18

Keywords: prison, prisoner resistance, state crime

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Date posted: December 4, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Ross, Jeffrey Ian, Resisting the Carceral State: Prisoner Resistance from the Bottom Up (2010). Social Justice, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 28-45, 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1719255 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1719255

Contact Information

Jeffrey Ian Ross (Contact Author)
University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )
1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States
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