Covenants without the Sword? Comparing Prison Self-Governance Globally

American Political Science Review, 110(4) 2016: 845-862.

63 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2016 Last revised: 3 Jan 2017

See all articles by David Skarbek

David Skarbek

Brown University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 21, 2016

Abstract

Why does prison social order vary around the world? While many of the basic characteristics of prisons are similar globally, the extent and form of informal inmate organization varies substantially. This paper develops a governance theory of prison social order. Inmates create extralegal governance institutions when official governance is insufficient. The size and demographics of the prison population explain why inmates produce extralegal governance institutions in either decentralized ways, such as ostracism, or through more centralized forms, such as gangs. Comparative analysis of Brazil, Bolivia, England, Scandinavia, and men’s and women’s prisons in California provide empirical support.

Keywords: Political Order, Governance, Extralegal Governance, Conflict Processes, Prison Social Order, Self-Enforcing Exchange, Gangs, Crime

JEL Classification: D23, K42

Suggested Citation

Skarbek, David, Covenants without the Sword? Comparing Prison Self-Governance Globally (April 21, 2016). American Political Science Review, 110(4) 2016: 845-862. . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2768110

David Skarbek (Contact Author)

Brown University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 1844
Providence, RI 02912
United States

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