At Work in the Iron Cage: The Prison as Gendered by Dana M. Britton

By Dana M. Britton

While most folks examine prisons, they think chaos, violence, and essentially, an environment of overwhelming brute masculinity. yet actual prisons not often healthy the “Big apartment” stereotype of well known movie and literature. One 5th of all correctional officials are girls, and the speed at which ladies are imprisoned is starting to be speedier than that of fellows. but, regardless of expanding numbers of ladies prisoners and officials, principles approximately legal existence and criminal paintings are sill ruled by way of an exaggerated photo of men’s prisons the place inmates supposedly fight for actual dominance.In a unprecedented comparative research of men’s and women’s prisons, Dana Britton identifies the standards that impression the gendering of the yank office, a procedure that regularly leaves girls in lower-paying jobs with much less status and responsibility.In interviews with dozens of female and male officials in 5 prisons, Britton explains how gender shapes their daily paintings reviews. Combining criminology, penology, and feminist conception, she deals a thorough new argument for the endurance of gender inequality in prisons and different companies. At paintings within the Iron Cage demonstrates the significance of the legal as a domain of gender kinfolk in addition to social regulate.

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Its isolation allowed arbitrary violence to go largely unnoticed. Prison investigations throughout the nineteenth century (in both separate and congregate-style facilities) revealed a thriving contraband trade involving guards and inmates, bribery, and inmate homosexuality. Inmate uprisings further eroded the system of discipline (Colvin 1997; Rothman 1990). Taken together, all these factors created a crisis of confidence in the new “science” of penology. As disciplinary methods lost their rehabilitative features, prisons became little more than custodial (Colvin 1997; Rothman 1990).

The call for hard labor was also rooted in ideas about the etiology of criminal behavior. Criminals, particularly property offenders, were held to be idlers, too lazy to work, who instead stole the property of others. Hard labor would create lasting work habits, removing the motivation for theft. The overall aim of this tripartite system was the reconstitution of the inmate as an atomized, disciplined, hardworking “model” citizen (Colvin 1997). Yet the citizen imagined was by no means generic. As critics have long noted, the subject at the heart of reformers’ discourse occupied a particular class position.

Though the text of these laws was generic, they were enforced almost exclusively against blacks. Black men, women, and children convicted under these statutes were all sent to leasing camps. Penitentiaries, where they still existed, were reserved for serious felons. These housed mostly white men, who tended to be convicted of only the most serious crimes (Oshinsky 1996; Walker 1988). White women rarely saw the inside of southern prisons. Governors who saw them as “too delicate” to endure incarceration typically pardoned them, regardless of their crimes (Oshinsky 1996).

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