Mass Incarceration and the Making of Citizens

Forthcoming, History of Education, Journal of the History of Education Society (UK)

Posted: 5 Jul 2013 Last revised: 5 Sep 2013

Benjamin Justice

Rutgers University

Date Written: July 4, 2013

Abstract

In The Spirit of Laws, Montesquieu famously observed that the legal system of a given state ought to exist in harmony with its overall organization of power. In a republic, he argued, the people are sovereign. Thus there must be laws regulating mass education to enhance civic virtue, teaching the people to love the laws of their country above their individual self interest. The laws of crime and punishment, too, must comport with the spirit of the government they support. In a healthy republic, wrote Montesquieu, a virtuous people require little punishment. If Montesquieu is correct, the rise of the American carceral state signals a profound challenge to the democratic nature of our government. This essay reviews three recent books on the rise of the carceral state as part of a broader discussion of the role of criminal justice in making citizens.

Keywords: mass incarceration, education, prisons, educational history, civic education

Suggested Citation

Justice, Benjamin, Mass Incarceration and the Making of Citizens (July 4, 2013). Forthcoming, History of Education, Journal of the History of Education Society (UK). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2289924 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2289924

Benjamin Justice (Contact Author)

Rutgers University ( email )

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