References (38)



Families and the Moral Economy of Incarceration

Donald Braman

George Washington University - Law School; Cultural Cognition Project


CRIMINAL JUSTICE, Judah & Bryant, eds., 2004

This chapter examines the moral economy of incarceration from the perspective of one family. Derrick and Londa's story, neither one of flagrant injustice nor triumph against the odds, shows a family facing addiction, the criminal justice system's response to it, and the mixture of hardship and relief that incarceration brings to many families of drug offenders. Stories like theirs are almost entirely absent from current debates over incarceration rates and accountability. Indeed, the historical lack of the familial and community perspective of those most affected by incarceration can help to explain the willingness of states to accept mass-incarceration as a default response to social disorder. Once we begin attending to the accounts of people directly affected by criminal sanctions, however, we can begin to understand how our policies have exacerbated the very social problems they were intended to remedy. By holding offenders unaccountable to their families and communities, incarceration, at least as it is currently practiced, frustrates the fundamental norms of reciprocity that form the basis of social order itself.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 23

Keywords: criminal law, incarceration, family life, urban ethnography

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Date posted: August 10, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Braman, Donald, Families and the Moral Economy of Incarceration (2004). CRIMINAL JUSTICE, Judah & Bryant, eds., 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=571382

Contact Information

Donald Braman (Contact Author)
George Washington University - Law School ( email )
2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

Cultural Cognition Project ( email )
2000 H St NW
2000 H Street
Washington, DC 20052 20052
United States
202-491-8843 (Phone)
202 491-8843 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/braman
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