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Workhouse – Wikipedia

In England and Wales a workhouse, colloquially known as a spike, was a place where those unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment. The earliest known use of the term dates from 1631, in an account by the mayor of Abingdon reporting that “wee haue erected wthn our borough a workehouse to sett poore people to worke”.[1]

The origins of the workhouse can be traced to the Poor Law Act of 1388, which attempted to address the labour shortages following the Black Death in England by restricting the movement of labourers, and ultimately led to the state becoming responsible for the support of the poor. But mass unemployment following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the introduction of new technology to replace agricultural workers in particular, and a series of bad harvests, meant that by the early 1830s the established system of poor relief was proving to be unsustainable. The New Poor Law of 1834 attempted to reverse the economic trend by discouraging the provision of relief to anyone who refused to enter a workhouse. Some Poor Law authorities hoped to run workhouses at a profit by utilising the free labour of their inmates, who generally lacked the skills or motivation to compete in the open market. Most were employed on tasks such as breaking stones, crushing bones to produce fertiliser, or picking oakum using a large metal nail known as a spike, perhaps the origin of the workhouse’s nickname.

Life in a workhouse was intended to be harsh, to deter the able-bodied poor and to ensure that only the truly destitute would apply. But in areas such as the provision of free medical care and education for children, neither of which was available to the poor in England living outside workhouses until the early 20th century, workhouse inmates were advantaged over the general population, a dilemma that the Poor Law authorities never managed to reconcile.

As the 19th century wore on, workhouses increasingly became refuges for the elderly, infirm and sick rather than the able-bodied poor, and in 1929 legislation was passed to allow local authorities to take over workhouse infirmaries as municipal hospitals. Although workhouses were formally abolished by the same legislation in 1930, many continued under their new appellation of Public Assistance Institutions under the control of local authorities. It was not until the National Assistance Act of 1948 that the last vestiges of the Poor Law disappeared, and with them the workhouses.

The Poor Law Act of 1388 was an attempt to address the labour shortage caused by the Black Death, a devastating pandemic that killed about one-third of England’s population. The new law fixed wages and restricted the movement of labourers, as it was anticipated that if they were allowed to leave their parishes for higher-paid work elsewhere then wages would inevitably rise. According to historian Derek Fraser, the fear of social disorder following the plague ultimately resulted in the state, and not a “personal Christian charity”, becoming responsible for the support of the poor. The resulting laws against vagrancy were the origins of state-funded relief for the poor. From the 16th century onwards a distinction was legally enshrined between those who were able to work but could not, and those who were able to work but would not: between “the genuinely unemployed and the idler”. Supporting the destitute was a problem exacerbated by King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, which began in 1536. They had been a significant source of charitable relief, and provided a good deal of direct and indirect employment. The Poor Relief Act of 1576 went on to establish the principle that if the able-bodied poor needed support, they had to work for it.

The Act for the Relief of the Poor of 1601 made parishes legally responsible for the care of those within their boundaries who, through age or infirmity, were unable to work. The Act essentially classified the poor into one of three groups. It proposed that the able-bodied be offered work in a house of correction (the precursor of the workhouse), where the “persistent idler” was to be punished. It also proposed the construction of housing for the impotent poor, the old and the infirm, although most assistance was granted through a form of poor relief known as outdoor relief money, food, or other necessities given to those living in their own homes, funded by a local tax on the property of the wealthiest in the parish.[1]

The workhouse system evolved in the 17th century, allowing parishes to reduce the cost to ratepayers of providing poor relief. The first authoritative figure for numbers of workhouses comes in the next century from The Abstract of Returns made by the Overseers of the Poor, which was drawn up following a government survey in 1776. It put the number of parish workhouses in England and Wales at more than 1800 (approximately one parish in seven), with a total capacity of more than 90,000 places.[5] This growth in the number of workhouses was prompted by the Workhouse Test Act of 1723; by obliging anyone seeking poor relief to enter a workhouse and undertake a set amount of work, usually for no pay (a system called indoor relief), the Act helped prevent irresponsible claims on a parish’s poor rate. The growth in the number of workhouses was also bolstered by the Relief of the Poor Act 1782, proposed by Thomas Gilbert. Gilbert’s Act was intended to allow parishes to share the cost of poor relief by forming unions known as Gilbert Unions to build and maintain even larger workhouses to accommodate the elderly and infirm. The able-bodied poor were instead either given outdoor relief or found employment locally. Relatively few Gilbert Unions were set up, but supplementing inadequate wages under the Speenhamland system did become established towards the end of the 18th century. So keen were some Poor Law authorities to cut costs wherever possible that cases were reported of husbands being forced to sell their wives, to avoid them becoming a financial burden on the parish. In one such case in 1814 the wife and child of Henry Cook, who were living in Effingham workhouse, were sold at Croydon market for one shilling (5p); the parish paid for the cost of the journey and a “wedding dinner”.

By the 1830s most parishes had at least one workhouse, but many were badly managed. In his 1797 work, The State of the Poor, Sir Frederick Eden, wrote:

The workhouse is an inconvenient building, with small windows, low rooms and dark staircases. It is surrounded by a high wall, that gives it the appearance of a prison, and prevents free circulation of air. There are 8 or 10 beds in each room, chiefly of flocks, and consequently retentive of all scents and very productive of vermin. The passages are in great want of whitewashing. No regular account is kept of births and deaths, but when smallpox, measles or malignant fevers make their appearance in the house, the mortality is very great. Of 131 inmates in the house, 60 are children.

In lieu of a workhouse some sparsely populated parishes placed homeless paupers into rented accommodation, and provided others with relief in their own homes. Those entering a workhouse might have joined anything from a handful to several hundred other inmates; for instance, between 1782 and 1794 Liverpool’s workhouse accommodated 9001200 indigent men, women and children. The larger workhouses such as the Gressenhall House of Industry generally served a number of communities, in Gressenhall’s case 50 parishes. Writing in 1854, Poor Law commissioner George Nicholls viewed many of them as little more than factories:

These workhouses were established, and mainly conducted, with a view to deriving profit from the labour of the inmates, and not as being the safest means of affording relief by at the same time testing the reality of their destitution. The workhouse was in truth at that time a kind of manufactory, carried on at the risk and cost of the poor-rate, employing the worst description of the people, and helping to pauperise the best.

By 1832 the amount spent on poor relief nationally had risen to 7million a year, more than 10shillings per head of population, up from 2million in 1784.[a] The large number of those seeking assistance was pushing the system to “the verge of collapse”.[b] The economic downturn following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century resulted in increasing numbers of unemployed. Coupled with developments in agriculture that meant less labour was needed on the land,[17] along with three successive bad harvests beginning in 1828 and the Swing Riots of 1830, reform was inevitable. Many suspected that the system of poor relief was being widely abused, and in 1832 the government established a Royal Commission to investigate and recommend how relief could best be given to the poor.[17] The result was the establishment of a centralised Poor Law Commission in England and Wales under the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, also known as the New Poor Law, which discouraged the allocation of outdoor relief to the able-bodied; “all cases were to be ‘offered the house’, and nothing else”. Individual parishes were formed into Poor Law Unions, each of which was to have a union workhouse. More than500 were built during the next 50years, two-thirds of them by 1840. In certain parts of the country there was a good deal of resistance to these new buildings, some of it violent, particularly in the industrial north. Many workers lost their jobs during the major economic depression of 1837, and there was a strong feeling that what the unemployed needed was not the workhouse but short-term relief to tide them over. By 1838, 573 Poor Law Unions had been formed in England and Wales, incorporating 13,427parishes, but it was not until 1868 that unions were established across the entire country, the same year that the New Poor Law was applied to the Gilbert Unions.

Despite the intentions behind the 1834 Act, relief of the poor remained the responsibility of local taxpayers, and there was thus a powerful economic incentive to use loopholes such as sickness in the family to continue with outdoor relief; the weekly cost per person was about half that of providing workhouse accommodation.[c] Outdoor relief was further restricted by the terms of the 1844 Outdoor Relief Prohibitory Order, which aimed to end it altogether for the able-bodied poor. In 1846, of 1.33million paupers only 199,000 were maintained in workhouses, of whom 82,000 were considered to be able-bodied, leaving an estimated 375,000 of the able-bodied on outdoor relief. Excluding periods of extreme economic distress, it has been estimated that about 6.5per cent of the British population may have been accommodated in workhouses at any given time.[d]

The New Poor Law Commissioners were very critical of existing workhouses, and generally insisted that they be replaced. They complained in particular that “in by far the greater number of cases, it is a large almshouse, in which the young are trained in idleness, ignorance, and vice; the able-bodied maintained in sluggish sensual indolence; the aged and more respectable exposed to all the misery that is incident to dwelling in such a society”.

After 1835 many workhouses were constructed with the central buildings surrounded by work and exercise yards enclosed behind brick walls, so-called “pauper bastilles”. The commission proposed that all new workhouses should allow for the segregation of paupers into at least four distinct groups, each to be housed separately: the aged and impotent, children, able-bodied males, and able-bodied females. A common layout resembled Jeremy Bentham’s prison panopticon, a radial design with four three-storey buildings at its centre set within a rectangular courtyard, the perimeter of which was defined by a three-storey entrance block and single-storey outbuildings, all enclosed by a wall. That basic layout, one of two designed by the architect Sampson Kempthorne (his other design was octagonal with a segmented interior, sometimes known as the Kempthorne star), allowed for four separate work and exercise yards, one for each class of inmate. Separating the inmates was intended to serve three purposes: to direct treatment to those who most needed it; to deter others from pauperism; and as a physical barrier against illness, physical and mental. The commissioners argued that buildings based on Kempthorne’s plans would be symbolic of the recent changes to the provision of poor relief; one assistant commissioner expressed the view that they would be something “the pauper would feel it was utterly impossible to contend against”, and “give confidence to the Poor Law Guardians”. Another assistant commissioner claimed the new design was intended as a “terror to the able-bodied population”, but the architect George Gilbert Scott was critical of what he called “a set of ready-made designs of the meanest possible character”. Some critics of the new Poor Law noted the similarities between Kempthorne’s plans and model prisons, and doubted that they were merely coincidental. Augustus Pugin compared Kempthorne’s octagonal plan with the “antient poor hoyse”, in what Professor Felix Driver calls a “romantic, conservative critique” of the “degeneration of English moral and aesthetic values”.

By the 1840s some of the enthusiasm for Kempthorne’s designs had waned. With limited space in built-up areas, and concerns over the ventilation of buildings, some unions moved away from panopticon designs. Between 1840 and 1870 about 150 workhouses with separate blocks designed for specific functions were built. Typically the entrance building contained offices, while the main workhouse building housed the various wards and workrooms, all linked by long corridors designed to improve ventilation and lighting. Where possible, each building was separated by an exercise yard, for the use of a specific category of pauper.

Each Poor Law Union employed one or more relieving officers, whose job it was to visit those applying for assistance and assess what relief, if any, they should be given. Any applicants considered to be in need of immediate assistance could be issued with a note admitting them directly to the workhouse. Alternatively they might be offered any necessary money or goods to tide them over until the next meeting of the guardians, who would decide on the appropriate level of support and whether or not the applicants should be assigned to the workhouse.

Workhouses were designed with only a single entrance guarded by a porter, through which inmates and visitors alike had to pass. Near to the entrance were the casual wards for tramps and vagrants[e] and the relieving rooms, where paupers were housed until they had been examined by a medical officer. After being assessed the paupers were separated and allocated to the appropriate ward for their category: boys under 14, able-bodied men between 14 and 60, men over 60, girls under 14, able-bodied women between 14 and 60, and women over 60.[f] Children under the age of two were allowed to remain with their mothers, but by entering a workhouse paupers were considered to have forfeited responsibility for their families. Clothing and personal possessions were taken from them and stored, to be returned on their discharge. After bathing, they were issued with a distinctive uniform:[g] for men it might be a striped cotton shirt, jacket and trousers, and a cloth cap, and for women a blue-and-white striped dress worn underneath a smock. Shoes were also provided. In some establishments certain categories of inmate were marked out by their clothing, such as at Bristol Incorporation workhouse, where prostitutes were required to wear a yellow dress and pregnant single women a red dress; such practices were deprecated by the Poor Law Commission in a directive issued in 1839 entitled “Ignominious Dress for Unchaste Women in Workhouses”, but they continued until at least 1866. Some workhouses had a separate “foul” or “itch” ward, where inmates diagnosed with skin diseases such as scabies could be detained before entering the workhouse proper.

Conditions in the casual wards were worse than in the relieving rooms and deliberately designed to discourage vagrants, who were considered potential trouble-makers and probably disease-ridden. Vagrants who presented themselves at the door of a workhouse were at the mercy of the porter, whose decision it was whether or not to allocate them a bed for the night in the casual ward. Those refused entry risked being sentenced to two weeks of hard labour if they were found begging or sleeping in the open and prosecuted for an offence under the Vagrancy Act 1824.

A typical early 19th-century casual ward was a single large room furnished with some kind of bedding and perhaps a bucket in the middle of the floor for sanitation. The bedding on offer could be very basic: the Poor Law authorities in Richmond in the mid-1840s provided only straw and rags, although beds were available for the sick. In return for their night’s accommodation vagrants might be expected to undertake a certain amount of work before leaving the next day, such as at Guisborough, where men were required to break stones for three hours and women to pick oakum, two hours before breakfast and one after.[44] Until the passage of the Casual Poor Act 1882 vagrants could discharge themselves before 11 am on the day following their admission, but from 1883 onwards they were required to be detained until 9 am on the second day. Those who were admitted to the workhouse again within one month were required to be detained until the fourth day after their admission.

Inmates were free to leave whenever they wished after giving reasonable notice, generally considered to be three hours, but if a parent discharged him or herself then the children were also discharged, to prevent them from being abandoned. The comic actor Charlie Chaplin, who spent some time with his mother in Lambeth workhouse, records in his autobiography that when he and his half-brother returned to the workhouse after having been sent to a school in Hanwell, he was met at the gate by his mother Hannah, dressed in her own clothes. Desperate to see them again she had discharged herself and the children; they spent the day together playing in Kennington Park and visiting a coffee shop, after which she readmitted them all to the workhouse.

Some Poor Law authorities hoped that payment for the work undertaken by the inmates would produce a profit for their workhouses, or at least allow them to be self-supporting, but whatever small income could be produced never matched the running costs. Eighteenth-century inmates were poorly managed, and lacked either the inclination or skills to compete effectively with free market industries such as spinning and weaving. Some workhouses operated not as places of employment, but as houses of correction, a role similar to that trialled by Buckinghamshire magistrate Matthew Marryott. Between 1714 and 1722 he experimented with using the workhouse as a test of poverty rather than a source of profit, leading to the establishment of a large number of workhouses for that purpose. Nevertheless, local people became concerned about the competition to their businesses from cheap workhouse labour. As late as 1888, for instance, the Firewood Cutters Protection Association was complaining that the livelihood of its members was being threatened by the cheap firewood on offer from the workhouses in the East End of London.

Many inmates were allocated tasks in the workhouse such as caring for the sick or teaching that were beyond their capabilities, but most were employed on “generally pointless” work, such as breaking stones or removing the hemp from telegraph wires. Others picked oakum using a large metal nail known as a spike, which may be the source of the workhouse’s nickname. Bone-crushing, useful in the creation of fertiliser, was a task most inmates could perform, until a government inquiry into conditions in the Andover workhouse in 1845 found that starving paupers were reduced to fighting over the rotting bones they were supposed to be grinding, to suck out the marrow. The resulting scandal led to the withdrawal of bone-crushing as an employment for those living in workhouses and the replacement of the Poor Law Commission by the Poor Law Board in 1847. Conditions thereafter were regulated according to a list of rules contained in the 1847 Consolidated General Order, which included guidance on issues such as diet, staff duties, dress, education, discipline and redress of grievances.

Some Poor Law Unions opted to send destitute children to the British colonies, in particular to Canada and Australia, where it was hoped the fruits of their labour would contribute to the defence of the empire and enable the colonies to buy more British exports. Known as Home Children, the Philanthropic Farm school alone sent more than 1000 boys to the colonies between 1850 and 1871, many of them taken from workhouses. In 1869 Maria Rye and Annie Macpherson, “two spinster ladies of strong resolve”, began taking groups of orphans and children from workhouses to Canada, most of whom were taken in by farming families in Ontario. The Canadian government paid a small fee to the ladies for each child delivered, but most of the cost was met by charities or the Poor Law Unions.

As far as possible elderly inmates were expected to undertake the same kind of work as the younger men and women, although concessions were made to their relative frailty. They might alternatively be required to chop firewood, clean the wards, or carry out other domestic tasks. In 1882 Lady Brabazon, later the Countess of Meath, set up a project to provide alternative occupation for non-able-bodied inmates, known as the Brabazon scheme. Volunteers provided training in crafts such as knitting, embroidery and lace making, all costs initially being borne by Lady Brabazon herself. Although slow to take off, when workhouses discovered that the goods being produced were saleable and could make the enterprise self-financing, the scheme gradually spread across the country, and by 1897 there were more than 100 branches.

In 1836 the Poor Law Commission distributed six diets for workhouse inmates, one of which was to be chosen by each Poor Law Union depending on its local circumstances. Although dreary, the food was generally nutritionally adequate,[58] and according to contemporary records was prepared with great care. Issues such as training staff to serve and weigh portions were well understood.[58] The diets included general guidance, as well as schedules for each class of inmate. They were laid out on a weekly rotation, the various meals selected on a daily basis, from a list of foodstuffs. For instance, a breakfast of bread and gruel was followed by dinner, which might consist of cooked meats, pickled pork or bacon with vegetables, potatoes, yeast dumpling, soup and suet, or rice pudding. Supper was normally bread, cheese and broth, and sometimes butter or potatoes.

The larger workhouses had separate dining rooms for males and females; workhouses without separate dining rooms would stagger the meal times to avoid any contact between the sexes. Rations provided for the indoor staff were much the same as those for the paupers, although more generous. The master and matron, for instance, received six times the amount of food given to a pauper.

Education was provided for the children, but workhouse teachers were a particular problem. Poorly paid, without any formal training, and facing large classes of unruly children with little or no interest in their lessons, few stayed in the job for more than a few months. In an effort to force workhouses to offer at least a basic level of education, legislation was passed in 1845 requiring that all pauper apprentices should be able to read and sign their own indenture papers. A training college for workhouse teachers was set up at Kneller Hall in Twickenham during the 1840s, but it closed in the following decade.

Some children were trained in skills valuable to the area. In Shrewsbury, the boys were placed in the workhouse’s workshop, while girls were tasked with spinning, making gloves and other jobs “suited to their sex, their ages and abilities”. At St Martin in the Fields, children were trained in spinning flax, picking hair and carding wool, before being placed as apprentices. Workhouses also had links with local industry; in Nottingham, children employed in a cotton mill earned about 60 a year for the workhouse. Some parishes advertised for apprenticeships, and were willing to pay any employer prepared to offer them. Such agreements were preferable to supporting children in the workhouse: apprenticed children were not subject to inspection by justices, thereby lowering the chance of punishment for neglect; and apprenticeships were viewed as a better long-term method of teaching skills to children who might otherwise be uninterested in work. Supporting an apprenticed child was also considerably cheaper than the workhouse or outdoor relief. Children often had no say in the matter, which could be arranged without the permission or knowledge of their parents. The supply of labour from workhouse to factory, which remained popular until the 1830s, was sometimes viewed as a form of transportation. While getting parish apprentices from Clerkenwell, Samuel Oldknow’s agent reported how some parents came “crying to beg they may have their Children out again”. Historian Arthur Redford suggests that the poor may have once shunned factories as “an insidious sort of workhouse”.

Religion played an important part in workhouse life: prayers were read to the paupers before breakfast and after supper each day. Each Poor Law Union was required to appoint a chaplain to look after the spiritual needs of the workhouse inmates, and he was invariably expected to be from the established Church of England. Religious services were generally held in the dining hall, as few early workhouses had a separate chapel. But in some parts of the country, notably Cornwall and northern England,[69] there were more dissenters than members of the established church; as section 19 of the 1834 Poor Law specifically forbade any regulation forcing an inmate to attend church services “in a Mode contrary to [their] Religious Principles”, the commissioners were reluctantly forced to allow non-Anglicans to leave the workhouse on Sundays to attend services elsewhere, so long as they were able to provide a certificate of attendance signed by the officiating minister on their return.[69]

As the 19th century wore on non-conformist ministers increasingly began to conduct services within the workhouse, but Catholic priests were rarely welcomed.[69] A variety of legislation had been introduced during the 17th century to limit the civil rights of Catholics, beginning with the Popish Recusants Act 1605 in the wake of the failed Gunpowder Plot that year. But although almost all restrictions on Catholics in England and Ireland were removed by the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, a great deal of anti-Catholic feeling remained. Even in areas with large Catholic populations, such as Liverpool, the appointment of a Catholic chaplain was unthinkable.[69] Some guardians went so far as to refuse Catholic priests entry to the workhouse.

Discipline was strictly enforced in the workhouse; for minor offences such as swearing or feigning sickness the “disorderly” could have their diet restricted for up to 48hours. For more serious offences such as insubordination or violent behaviour the “refractory” could be confined for up to 24hours, and might also have their diet restricted. Girls were punished in the same way as adults, but boys under the age of 14 could be beaten with “a rod or other instrument, such as may have been approved of by the Guardians”. The persistently refractory, or anyone bringing “spirituous or fermented liquor” into the workhouse, could be taken before a Justice of the Peace and even jailed.[72] All punishments handed out were recorded in a punishment book, which was examined regularly by the workhouse guardians, locally elected representatives of the participating parishes with overall responsibility for the running of the workhouse.

Although the commissioners were responsible for the regulatory framework within which the Poor Law Unions operated, each union was run by a locally elected board of guardians, comprising representatives from each of the participating parishes, assisted by six ex officio members.[74] The guardians were usually farmers or tradesmen, and as one of their roles was the contracting out of the supply of goods to the workhouse the position could prove lucrative for them and their friends. Simon Fowler has commented that “it is clear that this [the awarding of contracts] involved much petty corruption, and it was indeed endemic throughout the Poor Law system”.

Although the 1834 Act allowed for women to become workhouse guardians provided they met the property requirement, the first female was not elected until 1875. Working class guardians were not appointed until 1892, when the property requirement was dropped in favour of occupying rented premises worth 5 a year.

Every workhouse had a complement of full-time staff, often referred to as the indoor staff. At their head was the governor or master, who was appointed by the board of guardians. His duties were laid out in a series of orders issued by the Poor Law Commissioners. As well as the overall administration of the workhouse, masters were required to discipline the paupers as necessary and to visit each ward twice daily, at 11 am and 9 pm. Female inmates and children under seven were the responsibility of the matron, as was the general housekeeping. The master and the matron were usually a married couple, charged with running the workhouse “at the minimum cost and maximum efficiency for the lowest possible wages”.

A large workhouse such as Whitechapel, accommodating several thousand paupers, employed a staff of almost 200; the smallest may only have had a porter and perhaps an assistant nurse in addition to the master and matron. A typical workhouse accommodating 225 inmates had a staff of five, which included a part-time chaplain and a part-time medical officer. The low pay meant that many medical officers were young and inexperienced. To add to their difficulties, in most unions they were obliged to pay out of their own pockets for any drugs, dressings or other medical supplies needed to treat their patients.

A second major wave of workhouse construction began in the mid-1860s, the result of a damning report by the Poor Law inspectors on the conditions found in infirmaries in London and the provinces. Of one workhouse in Southwark, London, an inspector observed bluntly that “The workhouse does not meet the requirements of medical science, nor am I able to suggest any arrangements which would in the least enable it to do so”. By the middle of the 19th century there was a growing realisation that the purpose of the workhouse was no longer solely or even chiefly to act as a deterrent to the able-bodied poor, and the first generation of buildings was widely considered to be inadequate. About 150 new workhouses were built mainly in London, Lancashire and Yorkshire between 1840 and 1875, in architectural styles that began to adopt Italianate or Elizabethan features, to better fit into their surroundings and present a less intimidating face. One surviving example is the gateway at Ripon, designed somewhat in the style of a medieval almshouse. A major feature of this new generation of buildings is the long corridors with separate wards leading off for men, women and children.

By 1870 the architectural fashion had moved away from the corridor design in favour of a pavilion style based on the military hospitals built during and after the Crimean War, providing light and well-ventilated accommodation. Opened in 1878, the Manchester Union’s infirmary comprised seven parallel three-storey pavilions separated by 80-foot-wide (24m) “airing yards”; each pavilion had space for 31beds, a day room, a nurse’s kitchen and toilets. By the start of the 20th century new workhouses were often fitted out to an “impressive standard”. Opened in 1903, the workhouse at Hunslet in West Riding of Yorkshire had two steam boilers with automatic stokers supplying heating and hot water throughout the building, a generator to provide electricity for the institution’s 1,130 electric lamps, and electric lifts in the infirmary pavilion.

As early as 1841 the Poor Law Commissioners were aware of an “insoluble dilemma” posed by the ideology behind the New Poor Law:

If the pauper is always promptly attended by a skilful and well qualified medical practitioner… if the patient be furnished with all the cordials and stimulants which may promote his recovery: it cannot be denied that his condition in these respects is better than that of the needy and industrious ratepayer who has neither the money nor the influence to secure prompt and careful attendance.

The education of children presented a similar dilemma. It was provided free in the workhouse but had to be paid for by the “merely poor”; free primary education for all children was not provided in the UK until 1918. Instead of being “less eligible”, those living in the workhouse were in certain respects “more eligible” than those living in poverty outside.

Hush-a-bye baby, on the tree top,When you grow old, your wages will stop,When you have spent the little you madeFirst to the Poorhouse and then to the grave

By the late 1840s most workhouses outside London and the larger provincial towns housed only “the incapable, elderly and sick”. By the end of the century only about 20 per cent of those admitted to workhouses were unemployed or destitute, but about 30 per cent of the population over 70 were in workhouses. The introduction of pensions for those aged over 70 in 1908 did not reduce the number of elderly housed in workhouses, but it did reduce the number of those on outdoor relief by 25 per cent.

Responsibility for administration of the Poor Law passed to the Local Government Board in 1871, and the emphasis soon shifted from the workhouse as “a receptacle for the helpless poor” to its role in the care of the sick and helpless. The Diseases Prevention Act of 1883 allowed workhouse infirmaries to offer treatment to non-paupers as well as inmates, and by the beginning of the 20th century some infirmaries were even able to operate as private hospitals.

A Royal Commission of 1905 reported that workhouses were unsuited to deal with the different categories of resident they had traditionally housed, and recommended that specialised institutions for each class of pauper should be established, in which they could be treated appropriately by properly trained staff. The “deterrent” workhouses were in future to be reserved for “incorrigibles such as drunkards, idlers and tramps”. On 24 January 1918 the Daily Telegraph reported that the Local Government Committee on the Poor Law had presented to the Ministry of Reconstruction a report recommending abolition of the workhouses and transferring their duties to other organizations.[90]

The Local Government Act of 1929 gave local authorities the power to take over workhouse infirmaries as municipal hospitals, although outside London few did so. The workhouse system was abolished in the UK by the same Act on 1 April 1930, but many workhouses, renamed Public Assistance Institutions, continued under the control of local county councils. At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 almost 100,000 people were accommodated in the former workhouses, 5,629 of whom were children.

The 1948 National Assistance Act abolished the last vestiges of the Poor Law, and with it the workhouses. Many of the workhouse buildings were converted into retirement homes run by the local authorities; slightly more than half of local authority accommodation for the elderly was provided in former workhouses in 1960. Camberwell workhouse (in Peckham, South London) continued until 1985 as a homeless shelter for more than 1,000 men, operated by the Department of Health and Social Security and renamed a resettlement centre.[96] Southwell workhouse, now a museum, was used to provide temporary accommodation for mothers and children until the early 1990s.

The Poor Law was not designed to address the issue of poverty, which was considered to be the inevitable lot for most people; rather it was concerned with pauperism, “the inability of an individual to support himself”. Writing in 1806 Patrick Colquhoun commented that:

Poverty… is a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilisation. It is the lot of man it is the source of wealth, since without poverty there would be no labour, and without labour there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.

Historian Simon Fowler has argued that workhouses were “largely designed for a pool of able-bodied idlers and shirkers… However this group hardly existed outside the imagination of a generation of political economists”. Workhouse life was intended to be harsh, to deter the able-bodied poor and to ensure that only the truly destitute would apply, a principle known as less eligibility. Writing ten years after its introduction, Friedrich Engels described the motives of the authors of the 1834 New Poor Law as “to force the poor into the Procrustean bed of their preconceived notions. To do this they treated the poor with incredible savagery.”

The purpose of workhouse labour was never clear according to historian M. A. Crowther. In the early days of workhouses it was either a punishment or a source of income for the parish, but during the 19thcentury the idea of work as punishment became increasingly unfashionable. The idea took hold that work should rehabilitate the workhouse inmates for their eventual independence, and that it should therefore be rewarded with no more than the workers’ maintenance, otherwise there would be no incentive for them to seek work elsewhere.

The “dramatic possibilities” of the workhouse provided the inspiration for several artists including Charles West Cope, whose Board Day Application for Bread (1841), depicting a young widow pleading for bread for her four children, was painted following his visit to a meeting of the Staines Board of Guardians. The “quintessential workhouse yarn” is of course Oliver Twist (1838) by Charles Dickens, which contains the well-known request from Oliver to the master of the workhouse: “Please, sir, I want some more [food]”. Another popular piece of workhouse literature was the dramatic monologue In the Workhouse: Christmas Day (1877) by George Robert Sims, better known by its first line of “It is Christmas Day in the workhouse”. In chapter XXVII of his first novel Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), George Orwell gives a brief but vivid account of his stay in a London workhouse when he roamed the streets as a tramp during a short period in his late twenties. In 1931 an early version of this account had already been published as an essay (The Spike) in an issue of The New Adelphi.

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Workhouse – Wikipedia

Workhouse – Wikipedia

In England and Wales a workhouse, colloquially known as a spike, was a place where those unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment. The earliest known use of the term dates from 1631, in an account by the mayor of Abingdon reporting that “wee haue erected wthn our borough a workehouse to sett poore people to worke”.[1]

The origins of the workhouse can be traced to the Poor Law Act of 1388, which attempted to address the labour shortages following the Black Death in England by restricting the movement of labourers, and ultimately led to the state becoming responsible for the support of the poor. But mass unemployment following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the introduction of new technology to replace agricultural workers in particular, and a series of bad harvests, meant that by the early 1830s the established system of poor relief was proving to be unsustainable. The New Poor Law of 1834 attempted to reverse the economic trend by discouraging the provision of relief to anyone who refused to enter a workhouse. Some Poor Law authorities hoped to run workhouses at a profit by utilising the free labour of their inmates, who generally lacked the skills or motivation to compete in the open market. Most were employed on tasks such as breaking stones, crushing bones to produce fertiliser, or picking oakum using a large metal nail known as a spike, perhaps the origin of the workhouse’s nickname.

Life in a workhouse was intended to be harsh, to deter the able-bodied poor and to ensure that only the truly destitute would apply. But in areas such as the provision of free medical care and education for children, neither of which was available to the poor in England living outside workhouses until the early 20th century, workhouse inmates were advantaged over the general population, a dilemma that the Poor Law authorities never managed to reconcile.

As the 19th century wore on, workhouses increasingly became refuges for the elderly, infirm and sick rather than the able-bodied poor, and in 1929 legislation was passed to allow local authorities to take over workhouse infirmaries as municipal hospitals. Although workhouses were formally abolished by the same legislation in 1930, many continued under their new appellation of Public Assistance Institutions under the control of local authorities. It was not until the National Assistance Act of 1948 that the last vestiges of the Poor Law disappeared, and with them the workhouses.

The Poor Law Act of 1388 was an attempt to address the labour shortage caused by the Black Death, a devastating pandemic that killed about one-third of England’s population. The new law fixed wages and restricted the movement of labourers, as it was anticipated that if they were allowed to leave their parishes for higher-paid work elsewhere then wages would inevitably rise. According to historian Derek Fraser, the fear of social disorder following the plague ultimately resulted in the state, and not a “personal Christian charity”, becoming responsible for the support of the poor. The resulting laws against vagrancy were the origins of state-funded relief for the poor. From the 16th century onwards a distinction was legally enshrined between those who were able to work but could not, and those who were able to work but would not: between “the genuinely unemployed and the idler”. Supporting the destitute was a problem exacerbated by King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, which began in 1536. They had been a significant source of charitable relief, and provided a good deal of direct and indirect employment. The Poor Relief Act of 1576 went on to establish the principle that if the able-bodied poor needed support, they had to work for it.

The Act for the Relief of the Poor of 1601 made parishes legally responsible for the care of those within their boundaries who, through age or infirmity, were unable to work. The Act essentially classified the poor into one of three groups. It proposed that the able-bodied be offered work in a house of correction (the precursor of the workhouse), where the “persistent idler” was to be punished. It also proposed the construction of housing for the impotent poor, the old and the infirm, although most assistance was granted through a form of poor relief known as outdoor relief money, food, or other necessities given to those living in their own homes, funded by a local tax on the property of the wealthiest in the parish.[1]

The workhouse system evolved in the 17th century, allowing parishes to reduce the cost to ratepayers of providing poor relief. The first authoritative figure for numbers of workhouses comes in the next century from The Abstract of Returns made by the Overseers of the Poor, which was drawn up following a government survey in 1776. It put the number of parish workhouses in England and Wales at more than 1800 (approximately one parish in seven), with a total capacity of more than 90,000 places.[5] This growth in the number of workhouses was prompted by the Workhouse Test Act of 1723; by obliging anyone seeking poor relief to enter a workhouse and undertake a set amount of work, usually for no pay (a system called indoor relief), the Act helped prevent irresponsible claims on a parish’s poor rate. The growth in the number of workhouses was also bolstered by the Relief of the Poor Act 1782, proposed by Thomas Gilbert. Gilbert’s Act was intended to allow parishes to share the cost of poor relief by forming unions known as Gilbert Unions to build and maintain even larger workhouses to accommodate the elderly and infirm. The able-bodied poor were instead either given outdoor relief or found employment locally. Relatively few Gilbert Unions were set up, but supplementing inadequate wages under the Speenhamland system did become established towards the end of the 18th century. So keen were some Poor Law authorities to cut costs wherever possible that cases were reported of husbands being forced to sell their wives, to avoid them becoming a financial burden on the parish. In one such case in 1814 the wife and child of Henry Cook, who were living in Effingham workhouse, were sold at Croydon market for one shilling (5p); the parish paid for the cost of the journey and a “wedding dinner”.

By the 1830s most parishes had at least one workhouse, but many were badly managed. In his 1797 work, The State of the Poor, Sir Frederick Eden, wrote:

The workhouse is an inconvenient building, with small windows, low rooms and dark staircases. It is surrounded by a high wall, that gives it the appearance of a prison, and prevents free circulation of air. There are 8 or 10 beds in each room, chiefly of flocks, and consequently retentive of all scents and very productive of vermin. The passages are in great want of whitewashing. No regular account is kept of births and deaths, but when smallpox, measles or malignant fevers make their appearance in the house, the mortality is very great. Of 131 inmates in the house, 60 are children.

In lieu of a workhouse some sparsely populated parishes placed homeless paupers into rented accommodation, and provided others with relief in their own homes. Those entering a workhouse might have joined anything from a handful to several hundred other inmates; for instance, between 1782 and 1794 Liverpool’s workhouse accommodated 9001200 indigent men, women and children. The larger workhouses such as the Gressenhall House of Industry generally served a number of communities, in Gressenhall’s case 50 parishes. Writing in 1854, Poor Law commissioner George Nicholls viewed many of them as little more than factories:

These workhouses were established, and mainly conducted, with a view to deriving profit from the labour of the inmates, and not as being the safest means of affording relief by at the same time testing the reality of their destitution. The workhouse was in truth at that time a kind of manufactory, carried on at the risk and cost of the poor-rate, employing the worst description of the people, and helping to pauperise the best.

By 1832 the amount spent on poor relief nationally had risen to 7million a year, more than 10shillings per head of population, up from 2million in 1784.[a] The large number of those seeking assistance was pushing the system to “the verge of collapse”.[b] The economic downturn following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century resulted in increasing numbers of unemployed. Coupled with developments in agriculture that meant less labour was needed on the land,[17] along with three successive bad harvests beginning in 1828 and the Swing Riots of 1830, reform was inevitable. Many suspected that the system of poor relief was being widely abused, and in 1832 the government established a Royal Commission to investigate and recommend how relief could best be given to the poor.[17] The result was the establishment of a centralised Poor Law Commission in England and Wales under the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, also known as the New Poor Law, which discouraged the allocation of outdoor relief to the able-bodied; “all cases were to be ‘offered the house’, and nothing else”. Individual parishes were formed into Poor Law Unions, each of which was to have a union workhouse. More than500 were built during the next 50years, two-thirds of them by 1840. In certain parts of the country there was a good deal of resistance to these new buildings, some of it violent, particularly in the industrial north. Many workers lost their jobs during the major economic depression of 1837, and there was a strong feeling that what the unemployed needed was not the workhouse but short-term relief to tide them over. By 1838, 573 Poor Law Unions had been formed in England and Wales, incorporating 13,427parishes, but it was not until 1868 that unions were established across the entire country, the same year that the New Poor Law was applied to the Gilbert Unions.

Despite the intentions behind the 1834 Act, relief of the poor remained the responsibility of local taxpayers, and there was thus a powerful economic incentive to use loopholes such as sickness in the family to continue with outdoor relief; the weekly cost per person was about half that of providing workhouse accommodation.[c] Outdoor relief was further restricted by the terms of the 1844 Outdoor Relief Prohibitory Order, which aimed to end it altogether for the able-bodied poor. In 1846, of 1.33million paupers only 199,000 were maintained in workhouses, of whom 82,000 were considered to be able-bodied, leaving an estimated 375,000 of the able-bodied on outdoor relief. Excluding periods of extreme economic distress, it has been estimated that about 6.5per cent of the British population may have been accommodated in workhouses at any given time.[d]

The New Poor Law Commissioners were very critical of existing workhouses, and generally insisted that they be replaced. They complained in particular that “in by far the greater number of cases, it is a large almshouse, in which the young are trained in idleness, ignorance, and vice; the able-bodied maintained in sluggish sensual indolence; the aged and more respectable exposed to all the misery that is incident to dwelling in such a society”.

After 1835 many workhouses were constructed with the central buildings surrounded by work and exercise yards enclosed behind brick walls, so-called “pauper bastilles”. The commission proposed that all new workhouses should allow for the segregation of paupers into at least four distinct groups, each to be housed separately: the aged and impotent, children, able-bodied males, and able-bodied females. A common layout resembled Jeremy Bentham’s prison panopticon, a radial design with four three-storey buildings at its centre set within a rectangular courtyard, the perimeter of which was defined by a three-storey entrance block and single-storey outbuildings, all enclosed by a wall. That basic layout, one of two designed by the architect Sampson Kempthorne (his other design was octagonal with a segmented interior, sometimes known as the Kempthorne star), allowed for four separate work and exercise yards, one for each class of inmate. Separating the inmates was intended to serve three purposes: to direct treatment to those who most needed it; to deter others from pauperism; and as a physical barrier against illness, physical and mental. The commissioners argued that buildings based on Kempthorne’s plans would be symbolic of the recent changes to the provision of poor relief; one assistant commissioner expressed the view that they would be something “the pauper would feel it was utterly impossible to contend against”, and “give confidence to the Poor Law Guardians”. Another assistant commissioner claimed the new design was intended as a “terror to the able-bodied population”, but the architect George Gilbert Scott was critical of what he called “a set of ready-made designs of the meanest possible character”. Some critics of the new Poor Law noted the similarities between Kempthorne’s plans and model prisons, and doubted that they were merely coincidental. Augustus Pugin compared Kempthorne’s octagonal plan with the “antient poor hoyse”, in what Professor Felix Driver calls a “romantic, conservative critique” of the “degeneration of English moral and aesthetic values”.

By the 1840s some of the enthusiasm for Kempthorne’s designs had waned. With limited space in built-up areas, and concerns over the ventilation of buildings, some unions moved away from panopticon designs. Between 1840 and 1870 about 150 workhouses with separate blocks designed for specific functions were built. Typically the entrance building contained offices, while the main workhouse building housed the various wards and workrooms, all linked by long corridors designed to improve ventilation and lighting. Where possible, each building was separated by an exercise yard, for the use of a specific category of pauper.

Each Poor Law Union employed one or more relieving officers, whose job it was to visit those applying for assistance and assess what relief, if any, they should be given. Any applicants considered to be in need of immediate assistance could be issued with a note admitting them directly to the workhouse. Alternatively they might be offered any necessary money or goods to tide them over until the next meeting of the guardians, who would decide on the appropriate level of support and whether or not the applicants should be assigned to the workhouse.

Workhouses were designed with only a single entrance guarded by a porter, through which inmates and visitors alike had to pass. Near to the entrance were the casual wards for tramps and vagrants[e] and the relieving rooms, where paupers were housed until they had been examined by a medical officer. After being assessed the paupers were separated and allocated to the appropriate ward for their category: boys under 14, able-bodied men between 14 and 60, men over 60, girls under 14, able-bodied women between 14 and 60, and women over 60.[f] Children under the age of two were allowed to remain with their mothers, but by entering a workhouse paupers were considered to have forfeited responsibility for their families. Clothing and personal possessions were taken from them and stored, to be returned on their discharge. After bathing, they were issued with a distinctive uniform:[g] for men it might be a striped cotton shirt, jacket and trousers, and a cloth cap, and for women a blue-and-white striped dress worn underneath a smock. Shoes were also provided. In some establishments certain categories of inmate were marked out by their clothing, such as at Bristol Incorporation workhouse, where prostitutes were required to wear a yellow dress and pregnant single women a red dress; such practices were deprecated by the Poor Law Commission in a directive issued in 1839 entitled “Ignominious Dress for Unchaste Women in Workhouses”, but they continued until at least 1866. Some workhouses had a separate “foul” or “itch” ward, where inmates diagnosed with skin diseases such as scabies could be detained before entering the workhouse proper.

Conditions in the casual wards were worse than in the relieving rooms and deliberately designed to discourage vagrants, who were considered potential trouble-makers and probably disease-ridden. Vagrants who presented themselves at the door of a workhouse were at the mercy of the porter, whose decision it was whether or not to allocate them a bed for the night in the casual ward. Those refused entry risked being sentenced to two weeks of hard labour if they were found begging or sleeping in the open and prosecuted for an offence under the Vagrancy Act 1824.

A typical early 19th-century casual ward was a single large room furnished with some kind of bedding and perhaps a bucket in the middle of the floor for sanitation. The bedding on offer could be very basic: the Poor Law authorities in Richmond in the mid-1840s provided only straw and rags, although beds were available for the sick. In return for their night’s accommodation vagrants might be expected to undertake a certain amount of work before leaving the next day, such as at Guisborough, where men were required to break stones for three hours and women to pick oakum, two hours before breakfast and one after.[44] Until the passage of the Casual Poor Act 1882 vagrants could discharge themselves before 11 am on the day following their admission, but from 1883 onwards they were required to be detained until 9 am on the second day. Those who were admitted to the workhouse again within one month were required to be detained until the fourth day after their admission.

Inmates were free to leave whenever they wished after giving reasonable notice, generally considered to be three hours, but if a parent discharged him or herself then the children were also discharged, to prevent them from being abandoned. The comic actor Charlie Chaplin, who spent some time with his mother in Lambeth workhouse, records in his autobiography that when he and his half-brother returned to the workhouse after having been sent to a school in Hanwell, he was met at the gate by his mother Hannah, dressed in her own clothes. Desperate to see them again she had discharged herself and the children; they spent the day together playing in Kennington Park and visiting a coffee shop, after which she readmitted them all to the workhouse.

Some Poor Law authorities hoped that payment for the work undertaken by the inmates would produce a profit for their workhouses, or at least allow them to be self-supporting, but whatever small income could be produced never matched the running costs. Eighteenth-century inmates were poorly managed, and lacked either the inclination or skills to compete effectively with free market industries such as spinning and weaving. Some workhouses operated not as places of employment, but as houses of correction, a role similar to that trialled by Buckinghamshire magistrate Matthew Marryott. Between 1714 and 1722 he experimented with using the workhouse as a test of poverty rather than a source of profit, leading to the establishment of a large number of workhouses for that purpose. Nevertheless, local people became concerned about the competition to their businesses from cheap workhouse labour. As late as 1888, for instance, the Firewood Cutters Protection Association was complaining that the livelihood of its members was being threatened by the cheap firewood on offer from the workhouses in the East End of London.

Many inmates were allocated tasks in the workhouse such as caring for the sick or teaching that were beyond their capabilities, but most were employed on “generally pointless” work, such as breaking stones or removing the hemp from telegraph wires. Others picked oakum using a large metal nail known as a spike, which may be the source of the workhouse’s nickname. Bone-crushing, useful in the creation of fertiliser, was a task most inmates could perform, until a government inquiry into conditions in the Andover workhouse in 1845 found that starving paupers were reduced to fighting over the rotting bones they were supposed to be grinding, to suck out the marrow. The resulting scandal led to the withdrawal of bone-crushing as an employment for those living in workhouses and the replacement of the Poor Law Commission by the Poor Law Board in 1847. Conditions thereafter were regulated according to a list of rules contained in the 1847 Consolidated General Order, which included guidance on issues such as diet, staff duties, dress, education, discipline and redress of grievances.

Some Poor Law Unions opted to send destitute children to the British colonies, in particular to Canada and Australia, where it was hoped the fruits of their labour would contribute to the defence of the empire and enable the colonies to buy more British exports. Known as Home Children, the Philanthropic Farm school alone sent more than 1000 boys to the colonies between 1850 and 1871, many of them taken from workhouses. In 1869 Maria Rye and Annie Macpherson, “two spinster ladies of strong resolve”, began taking groups of orphans and children from workhouses to Canada, most of whom were taken in by farming families in Ontario. The Canadian government paid a small fee to the ladies for each child delivered, but most of the cost was met by charities or the Poor Law Unions.

As far as possible elderly inmates were expected to undertake the same kind of work as the younger men and women, although concessions were made to their relative frailty. They might alternatively be required to chop firewood, clean the wards, or carry out other domestic tasks. In 1882 Lady Brabazon, later the Countess of Meath, set up a project to provide alternative occupation for non-able-bodied inmates, known as the Brabazon scheme. Volunteers provided training in crafts such as knitting, embroidery and lace making, all costs initially being borne by Lady Brabazon herself. Although slow to take off, when workhouses discovered that the goods being produced were saleable and could make the enterprise self-financing, the scheme gradually spread across the country, and by 1897 there were more than 100 branches.

In 1836 the Poor Law Commission distributed six diets for workhouse inmates, one of which was to be chosen by each Poor Law Union depending on its local circumstances. Although dreary, the food was generally nutritionally adequate,[58] and according to contemporary records was prepared with great care. Issues such as training staff to serve and weigh portions were well understood.[58] The diets included general guidance, as well as schedules for each class of inmate. They were laid out on a weekly rotation, the various meals selected on a daily basis, from a list of foodstuffs. For instance, a breakfast of bread and gruel was followed by dinner, which might consist of cooked meats, pickled pork or bacon with vegetables, potatoes, yeast dumpling, soup and suet, or rice pudding. Supper was normally bread, cheese and broth, and sometimes butter or potatoes.

The larger workhouses had separate dining rooms for males and females; workhouses without separate dining rooms would stagger the meal times to avoid any contact between the sexes. Rations provided for the indoor staff were much the same as those for the paupers, although more generous. The master and matron, for instance, received six times the amount of food given to a pauper.

Education was provided for the children, but workhouse teachers were a particular problem. Poorly paid, without any formal training, and facing large classes of unruly children with little or no interest in their lessons, few stayed in the job for more than a few months. In an effort to force workhouses to offer at least a basic level of education, legislation was passed in 1845 requiring that all pauper apprentices should be able to read and sign their own indenture papers. A training college for workhouse teachers was set up at Kneller Hall in Twickenham during the 1840s, but it closed in the following decade.

Some children were trained in skills valuable to the area. In Shrewsbury, the boys were placed in the workhouse’s workshop, while girls were tasked with spinning, making gloves and other jobs “suited to their sex, their ages and abilities”. At St Martin in the Fields, children were trained in spinning flax, picking hair and carding wool, before being placed as apprentices. Workhouses also had links with local industry; in Nottingham, children employed in a cotton mill earned about 60 a year for the workhouse. Some parishes advertised for apprenticeships, and were willing to pay any employer prepared to offer them. Such agreements were preferable to supporting children in the workhouse: apprenticed children were not subject to inspection by justices, thereby lowering the chance of punishment for neglect; and apprenticeships were viewed as a better long-term method of teaching skills to children who might otherwise be uninterested in work. Supporting an apprenticed child was also considerably cheaper than the workhouse or outdoor relief. Children often had no say in the matter, which could be arranged without the permission or knowledge of their parents. The supply of labour from workhouse to factory, which remained popular until the 1830s, was sometimes viewed as a form of transportation. While getting parish apprentices from Clerkenwell, Samuel Oldknow’s agent reported how some parents came “crying to beg they may have their Children out again”. Historian Arthur Redford suggests that the poor may have once shunned factories as “an insidious sort of workhouse”.

Religion played an important part in workhouse life: prayers were read to the paupers before breakfast and after supper each day. Each Poor Law Union was required to appoint a chaplain to look after the spiritual needs of the workhouse inmates, and he was invariably expected to be from the established Church of England. Religious services were generally held in the dining hall, as few early workhouses had a separate chapel. But in some parts of the country, notably Cornwall and northern England,[69] there were more dissenters than members of the established church; as section 19 of the 1834 Poor Law specifically forbade any regulation forcing an inmate to attend church services “in a Mode contrary to [their] Religious Principles”, the commissioners were reluctantly forced to allow non-Anglicans to leave the workhouse on Sundays to attend services elsewhere, so long as they were able to provide a certificate of attendance signed by the officiating minister on their return.[69]

As the 19th century wore on non-conformist ministers increasingly began to conduct services within the workhouse, but Catholic priests were rarely welcomed.[69] A variety of legislation had been introduced during the 17th century to limit the civil rights of Catholics, beginning with the Popish Recusants Act 1605 in the wake of the failed Gunpowder Plot that year. But although almost all restrictions on Catholics in England and Ireland were removed by the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, a great deal of anti-Catholic feeling remained. Even in areas with large Catholic populations, such as Liverpool, the appointment of a Catholic chaplain was unthinkable.[69] Some guardians went so far as to refuse Catholic priests entry to the workhouse.

Discipline was strictly enforced in the workhouse; for minor offences such as swearing or feigning sickness the “disorderly” could have their diet restricted for up to 48hours. For more serious offences such as insubordination or violent behaviour the “refractory” could be confined for up to 24hours, and might also have their diet restricted. Girls were punished in the same way as adults, but boys under the age of 14 could be beaten with “a rod or other instrument, such as may have been approved of by the Guardians”. The persistently refractory, or anyone bringing “spirituous or fermented liquor” into the workhouse, could be taken before a Justice of the Peace and even jailed.[72] All punishments handed out were recorded in a punishment book, which was examined regularly by the workhouse guardians, locally elected representatives of the participating parishes with overall responsibility for the running of the workhouse.

Although the commissioners were responsible for the regulatory framework within which the Poor Law Unions operated, each union was run by a locally elected board of guardians, comprising representatives from each of the participating parishes, assisted by six ex officio members.[74] The guardians were usually farmers or tradesmen, and as one of their roles was the contracting out of the supply of goods to the workhouse the position could prove lucrative for them and their friends. Simon Fowler has commented that “it is clear that this [the awarding of contracts] involved much petty corruption, and it was indeed endemic throughout the Poor Law system”.

Although the 1834 Act allowed for women to become workhouse guardians provided they met the property requirement, the first female was not elected until 1875. Working class guardians were not appointed until 1892, when the property requirement was dropped in favour of occupying rented premises worth 5 a year.

Every workhouse had a complement of full-time staff, often referred to as the indoor staff. At their head was the governor or master, who was appointed by the board of guardians. His duties were laid out in a series of orders issued by the Poor Law Commissioners. As well as the overall administration of the workhouse, masters were required to discipline the paupers as necessary and to visit each ward twice daily, at 11 am and 9 pm. Female inmates and children under seven were the responsibility of the matron, as was the general housekeeping. The master and the matron were usually a married couple, charged with running the workhouse “at the minimum cost and maximum efficiency for the lowest possible wages”.

A large workhouse such as Whitechapel, accommodating several thousand paupers, employed a staff of almost 200; the smallest may only have had a porter and perhaps an assistant nurse in addition to the master and matron. A typical workhouse accommodating 225 inmates had a staff of five, which included a part-time chaplain and a part-time medical officer. The low pay meant that many medical officers were young and inexperienced. To add to their difficulties, in most unions they were obliged to pay out of their own pockets for any drugs, dressings or other medical supplies needed to treat their patients.

A second major wave of workhouse construction began in the mid-1860s, the result of a damning report by the Poor Law inspectors on the conditions found in infirmaries in London and the provinces. Of one workhouse in Southwark, London, an inspector observed bluntly that “The workhouse does not meet the requirements of medical science, nor am I able to suggest any arrangements which would in the least enable it to do so”. By the middle of the 19th century there was a growing realisation that the purpose of the workhouse was no longer solely or even chiefly to act as a deterrent to the able-bodied poor, and the first generation of buildings was widely considered to be inadequate. About 150 new workhouses were built mainly in London, Lancashire and Yorkshire between 1840 and 1875, in architectural styles that began to adopt Italianate or Elizabethan features, to better fit into their surroundings and present a less intimidating face. One surviving example is the gateway at Ripon, designed somewhat in the style of a medieval almshouse. A major feature of this new generation of buildings is the long corridors with separate wards leading off for men, women and children.

By 1870 the architectural fashion had moved away from the corridor design in favour of a pavilion style based on the military hospitals built during and after the Crimean War, providing light and well-ventilated accommodation. Opened in 1878, the Manchester Union’s infirmary comprised seven parallel three-storey pavilions separated by 80-foot-wide (24m) “airing yards”; each pavilion had space for 31beds, a day room, a nurse’s kitchen and toilets. By the start of the 20th century new workhouses were often fitted out to an “impressive standard”. Opened in 1903, the workhouse at Hunslet in West Riding of Yorkshire had two steam boilers with automatic stokers supplying heating and hot water throughout the building, a generator to provide electricity for the institution’s 1,130 electric lamps, and electric lifts in the infirmary pavilion.

As early as 1841 the Poor Law Commissioners were aware of an “insoluble dilemma” posed by the ideology behind the New Poor Law:

If the pauper is always promptly attended by a skilful and well qualified medical practitioner… if the patient be furnished with all the cordials and stimulants which may promote his recovery: it cannot be denied that his condition in these respects is better than that of the needy and industrious ratepayer who has neither the money nor the influence to secure prompt and careful attendance.

The education of children presented a similar dilemma. It was provided free in the workhouse but had to be paid for by the “merely poor”; free primary education for all children was not provided in the UK until 1918. Instead of being “less eligible”, those living in the workhouse were in certain respects “more eligible” than those living in poverty outside.

Hush-a-bye baby, on the tree top,When you grow old, your wages will stop,When you have spent the little you madeFirst to the Poorhouse and then to the grave

By the late 1840s most workhouses outside London and the larger provincial towns housed only “the incapable, elderly and sick”. By the end of the century only about 20 per cent of those admitted to workhouses were unemployed or destitute, but about 30 per cent of the population over 70 were in workhouses. The introduction of pensions for those aged over 70 in 1908 did not reduce the number of elderly housed in workhouses, but it did reduce the number of those on outdoor relief by 25 per cent.

Responsibility for administration of the Poor Law passed to the Local Government Board in 1871, and the emphasis soon shifted from the workhouse as “a receptacle for the helpless poor” to its role in the care of the sick and helpless. The Diseases Prevention Act of 1883 allowed workhouse infirmaries to offer treatment to non-paupers as well as inmates, and by the beginning of the 20th century some infirmaries were even able to operate as private hospitals.

A Royal Commission of 1905 reported that workhouses were unsuited to deal with the different categories of resident they had traditionally housed, and recommended that specialised institutions for each class of pauper should be established, in which they could be treated appropriately by properly trained staff. The “deterrent” workhouses were in future to be reserved for “incorrigibles such as drunkards, idlers and tramps”. On 24 January 1918 the Daily Telegraph reported that the Local Government Committee on the Poor Law had presented to the Ministry of Reconstruction a report recommending abolition of the workhouses and transferring their duties to other organizations.[90]

The Local Government Act of 1929 gave local authorities the power to take over workhouse infirmaries as municipal hospitals, although outside London few did so. The workhouse system was abolished in the UK by the same Act on 1 April 1930, but many workhouses, renamed Public Assistance Institutions, continued under the control of local county councils. At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 almost 100,000 people were accommodated in the former workhouses, 5,629 of whom were children.

The 1948 National Assistance Act abolished the last vestiges of the Poor Law, and with it the workhouses. Many of the workhouse buildings were converted into retirement homes run by the local authorities; slightly more than half of local authority accommodation for the elderly was provided in former workhouses in 1960. Camberwell workhouse (in Peckham, South London) continued until 1985 as a homeless shelter for more than 1,000 men, operated by the Department of Health and Social Security and renamed a resettlement centre.[96] Southwell workhouse, now a museum, was used to provide temporary accommodation for mothers and children until the early 1990s.

The Poor Law was not designed to address the issue of poverty, which was considered to be the inevitable lot for most people; rather it was concerned with pauperism, “the inability of an individual to support himself”. Writing in 1806 Patrick Colquhoun commented that:

Poverty… is a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilisation. It is the lot of man it is the source of wealth, since without poverty there would be no labour, and without labour there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.

Historian Simon Fowler has argued that workhouses were “largely designed for a pool of able-bodied idlers and shirkers… However this group hardly existed outside the imagination of a generation of political economists”. Workhouse life was intended to be harsh, to deter the able-bodied poor and to ensure that only the truly destitute would apply, a principle known as less eligibility. Writing ten years after its introduction, Friedrich Engels described the motives of the authors of the 1834 New Poor Law as “to force the poor into the Procrustean bed of their preconceived notions. To do this they treated the poor with incredible savagery.”

The purpose of workhouse labour was never clear according to historian M. A. Crowther. In the early days of workhouses it was either a punishment or a source of income for the parish, but during the 19thcentury the idea of work as punishment became increasingly unfashionable. The idea took hold that work should rehabilitate the workhouse inmates for their eventual independence, and that it should therefore be rewarded with no more than the workers’ maintenance, otherwise there would be no incentive for them to seek work elsewhere.

The “dramatic possibilities” of the workhouse provided the inspiration for several artists including Charles West Cope, whose Board Day Application for Bread (1841), depicting a young widow pleading for bread for her four children, was painted following his visit to a meeting of the Staines Board of Guardians. The “quintessential workhouse yarn” is of course Oliver Twist (1838) by Charles Dickens, which contains the well-known request from Oliver to the master of the workhouse: “Please, sir, I want some more [food]”. Another popular piece of workhouse literature was the dramatic monologue In the Workhouse: Christmas Day (1877) by George Robert Sims, better known by its first line of “It is Christmas Day in the workhouse”. In chapter XXVII of his first novel Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), George Orwell gives a brief but vivid account of his stay in a London workhouse when he roamed the streets as a tramp during a short period in his late twenties. In 1931 an early version of this account had already been published as an essay (The Spike) in an issue of The New Adelphi.

Notes

Citations

Bibliography

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Workhouse – Wikipedia

Abolition and replacement of the 457 visa Government …

On 18 April 2017, the Government announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary SkillShortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.

The TSS visa programme will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years and will support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers.

This new visa is part of the Governments significant reform package to strengthen the integrity and quality of Australias temporary and permanent employer sponsored skilled migration programmes.

Key reforms include:

The implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and will be completed in March 2018.

Further information on reforms is available:

Further information on different aspects of the reforms will be published in due course.

1 Set at $53,900 as at 12 April 2016.

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Abolition and replacement of the 457 visa Government …

On the Plantations: The Abolition of Slavery Project

When enslaved Africans arrived in the Americas, they were often alone, separated from their family and community, unable to communicate with those around them. The following descriptionis from’The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano’:

“When we arrived in Barbados (in the West Indies) many merchants and planters came on board and examined us. We were then taken to the merchant’s yard, where we were all pent up together like sheep in a fold. On a signal the buyers rushed forward and chose those slaves they liked best.”

On arrival, the Africans were prepared for sale like animals. They were washed and shaved: sometimes their skins were oiled to make them appear healthy and increase their sale price.

Depending on where they had arrived, the enslaved Africans were sold through agents by public auction or by a scramble’, in which buyers simply grabbed whomever they wanted. Sales often involved measuring, grading and intrusive physical examination.

Sold, branded and issued with a new name, the enslaved Africans were separated and stripped of their identity. In a deliberate process, meant to break their will power and make them totally passive and subservient, the enslaved Africans were seasoned.’ This means that, for a period of two to three years, they were trained to endure their work and conditions – obey or receive the lash. It was mental and physical torture.

Life expectancywas short, on many plantations only 7-9 years. The high slave replacement figures were one piece of evidence used by the abolitionist, Anthony Benezet, to counter arguments that enslaved peoplebenefitted from removal from Africa.

Other descriptions of the arrival and sale of enslaved people: Captain Stedman describes the condition of enslaved people leaving a slave ship Dr Cullen describes the arrival of the enslaved people in the West Indies Dr Alexander Falconbridge describes a sale, 1778Henry Lauren describes a sale, 1786

What was life like for the enslaved person?

Itwas a life of endless labour.They worked up to 18 hours a day, sometimes longer at busy periods such as harvest. There were no weekends or rest days.

The dominant experience for most Africans was work on the sugar plantations. In Jamaica, for example, 60% worked on the sugarplantations and, by the early 19th century, 90% of enslaved Africans in Nevis, Montserrat and Tobago toiled on sugar slave estates.

The major secondary crop was coffee, which employed sizable numbers on Jamaica, Dominica, St Vincent, Grenada, St Lucia, Trinidad and Demerara. Coffee plantations tended to be smaller than sugar estates and, because of their highland locations, were more isolated.

A few colonies grew no sugar. On Belize most enslaved Africans were woodcutters; on the Cayman Islands, Anguilla and Barbuda, a majority of slaves lived on small mixed agricultural holdings; on the Bahamas, cotton cultivation was important for some decades.Even on a sugar-dominated island like Barbados, about one in ten slaves produced cotton, ginger and aloe. Livestock ranching was important on Jamaica, where specialised pens emerged.

By the 1760s, on mainland North American plantations, half of enslaved African people were occupied in cultivating tobacco, rice and indigo.

Children under the age of six, a few elderly people and some people with physical disabilities were the only people exempt from labour.

Individuals were allocated jobs according to gender, age, colour, strength and birthplace. Men dominated skilled trades and women generally came to dominate field gangs. Age determined when enslaved people entered the work force, when they progressed from one gang to another, when field hands became drivers and when field hands were retired as watchmen. The offspring of planters and enslaved African women were often allocated domestic work or, in the case of men, to skilled trades.

Children were sent to work doing whatever tasks they were physically able. This could include cleaning, water carrying, stone picking and collecting livestock feed.In addition to their work in the fields, women were used to carry outthe duties of servants,child minders and seamstresses. Women could be separated from their children and sold to different ‘owners’ at any time.

Mary Prince, in her autobiography,described her experience ofbeing enslaved andseparated from her mother. To hear an extract from the autobiography.

A description of the life of an enslaved plantation workerwas described by Renny in 1807. To here the description.

How did the plantation owners control the enslaved people?

The plantation owners may have controlled the work and physical well being of enslaved people, but they could never control their minds. The enslaved people resisted at every opportunity and in many different ways – see the resistance section.

There was always the constant threat of uprising and keeping thoseenslaved under controlwas a priority of all plantation owners. The laws created to control enslaved populations were severe andillustrated the tensions that existed. The laws passed by the Islands’ governing Assemblies are often referred to as the Black Codes.’

Any enslaved personfound guilty of committing or plotting serious offences, such as violence against the plantation owner or destruction of property, was put to death. Beatings and whippings were a common punishment, as well as the use of neck collars or leg irons for less serious offences, such as failure to work hard enough or insubordination, which covered many things.

Thomas Clarkson described the life of an enslaved person in a speech to a gathering at Ipswich. To hear an extract of this speech.

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On the Plantations: The Abolition of Slavery Project

How to End Mass Incarceration – Jacobin magazine

The United States has not always been the worlds leading jailer, the only affluent democracy to make incapacitation its criminal justice systems goal. Once upon a time, it fashioned itself as the very model of what Michel Foucault called the disciplinary society. That is, it took an enlightened approach to punishment, progressively tethering it to rehabilitative ideals. Today, it is a carceral state, plain and simple. It posts the highest incarceration rate in the world as well as the highest violent crime rate among high-income countries.

Politicians, reporters, and activists from across the political spectrum have analyzed the ongoing crisis of mass incarceration. Their accounts sometimes depict our current plight as an expression of puritanism, as an extension of slavery or Jim Crow, or as an exigency of capitalism. But these approaches fail to address the question that ought to be foremost in front of us: what was the nature of the punitive turn that pushed the US off the path of reform and turned its correctional system into a rogue institution?

While the state-sanctioned brutality that now marks the American criminal justice system has motivated many activists to call for the complete abolition of prisons, we must begin with a clearer understanding of the complex institutional shifts that created and reproduce the phenomenon of mass incarceration. Only then will we be able to see a clear path out of the current impasse.

The core features of Foucaults account of crime, punishment, and social control are well known, although they have not always been well understood. In the disciplinary society he describes, authorities progressively withdraw punishment from public view. And as discipline becomes increasingly private, it shifts its focus from criminals bodies to their minds. Increasingly, punishment is calculated to rehabilitate it is not meant to damage or destroy.

Foucault highlighted how these disciplinary reforms created new and more effective tactics for consolidating power, especially as they spread to non-judicial institutions, like schools, hospitals, factories, and offices. Unlike its predecessor, sovereign power, which subtracts giving kings the right to seize property, to damage or take lives disciplinary power corrects. The Enlightenments gentle punishments would convince the miscreant to mend his crooked ways, not beat the bad behavior out of him.

An American preference for rehabilitative discipline over harsh punishment has deep roots. Resonant with the image of the country as a nation of laws, American justice promised to punish lawbreakers only as much as was necessary to straighten them out. The Bill of Rights prohibited torture, and the Quaker reformers who founded early American penitentiaries treated them as utopian experiments in discipline, purgatories where penitents would suffer and introspect until they found salvation.

No doubt time and circumstance created different opinions about how much suffering genuine personal reformation required, but American practices generally aligned with rising standards of decency. As James Q. Whitman notes, Europeans once viewed the US prison system as a model of enlightened practices. Foreign governments sent delegations on tours of American penitentiaries, and Alexis de Tocqueville extolled the mildness of American punishment.

Of course, we can find exceptions. Southern penal systems, racialized after the Civil War under the convict-lease system, didnt even pretend to have rehabilitative aims. They existed to control the black population and supply cheap labor for agriculture and industry. No doubt, too, the spectacles of punishment associated with popular colonial justice the pillory, the stockade, the scarlet letter cast long shadows across American history.

But, even in the face of these contradictions, the US criminal justice system seemed to support a grand narrative of progressive history: the arc of history bends toward justice, and the slave drivers lash and the lynch mobs noose disappeared as the nation extended more rights and more freedoms to more people. Reasoned law inexorably overcomes communal violence and brute domination.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr thus distinguishes the true essence of the United States from its various manifestations of racism and intolerance, glossing history as the perpetual struggle of Americans to fulfill their deepest values in an enigmatic world.

As recently as fifty-odd years ago, Americans could still believe this story. Here, as in other North Atlantic countries, modern penal models that stress rehabilitation, reform, and welfare had become the prevailing approaches. At the peak of this trend, Great Society programs attempted to address crimes socioeconomic causes: poverty, institutional racism, alienation.

Indeed, as a result of the legal reforms of the 1960s, the American prison population was shrinking, and the state was developing alternatives to incarceration: kinder, gentler institutions that focused on supervision, reeducation, and rehabilitation. To many observers, the prison system actually seemed to be reforming itself out of existence. Leo Bersanis review of Foucaults Discipline and Punish began with the (now astonishing) sentence The era of prisons may be nearly over.

Nothing in Foucaults analysis or anyone elses, as David Garland has remarked could have predicted what followed: a sudden punitive turn designed to incapacitate prisoners rather than rehabilitate them. The practice of locking people up for long periods of time became the criminal justice systems organizing principle, and prisons turned into a reservation system, a quarantine zone where purportedly dangerous individuals are segregated in the name of public safety. The resulting system of mass incarceration, Garland writes, resembles

nothing so much as the Soviet gulag a string of work camps and prisons strung across a vast country, housing [more than] two million people most of whom are drawn from classes and racial groups that have become politically and economically problematic. Like the pre-modern sanctions of transportation or banishment, the prison now functions as a form of exile.

At the peak of this mania, one in every ninety-nine adults was behind bars. Since 2008, these numbers have leveled off and even posted modest declines, but the basic contours remain intact. The United States ranks first in imprisonment among significant nations, whether measured in terms of incarceration rates which remains five to ten times higher than those of other developed democracies or in terms of the absolute number of people in prison.

Hyper-policing helped make hyper-punishment possible. By the mid-2000s, police were arresting a staggering fourteen million Americans each year, excluding traffic violations up from a little more than three million in 1960. That is, the annual arrest rate as a percentage of the population nearly tripled, from 1.6 percent in 1960 to 4.5 percent in 2009. Today, almost one-third of the adult population has an arrest record.

At prevailing rates of incarceration, one in every fifteen Americans will serve time in a prison. For men the rate is more than one in nine. For African American men, the expected lifetime rate runs even higher: roughly one in three.

These figures have no precedent in the United States: not under Puritanism, not even under Jim Crow. While some observers point to significant declines in crime statistics after 1994 as evidence of these policies success, informed estimates show that locking up millions of people for long periods contributed to only as much as 27 percent and as little as 10 percent of the overall reduction in crime.

Eighth Amendment prohibitions notwithstanding, conditions in Americas crowded prisons have sunk to the level of torture. Indeed, the Supreme Courts Brown v. Plata decision affirmed that overpopulation itself constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, creating unsafe and unsanitary conditions, depriving prisoners of basic sustenance, including adequate medical care. The court found that mass incarceration is incompatible with the concept of human dignity.

In this context, structural abuses invariably flourish. Reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch catalog various forms of sanctioned and unsanctioned human rights abuses. These include beatings and chokings, extended solitary confinement in maximum security and so-called supermax prisons, the mistreatment of juvenile and mentally ill detainees, and the inhumane use of restraints, electrical devices, and attack dogs.

Modern prisons have become places of irredeemable harm and trauma. J. C. Oleson surveys these dehumanizing warehouse prisons, where guards have overseen systems of sexual slavery or orchestrated gladiator-style fights between inmates.

Sally Mann Romano describes shocking brutality in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of Californias Pelican Bay State Prison, once touted as a model supermax prison:

It was in this unit that Vaughn Dortch, a prisoner with a life-long history of mental problems, was confined after a conviction for grand theft. There, the stark conditions of isolation caused his mental condition to dramatically deteriorate, to the point that he smeared himself repeatedly with feces and urine. Prison officials took Vaughn to the infirmary to bathe him and asked a medical technician, Irven McMillan, if he wanted a part of this bath. McMillan responded that he would take some of the brush end, referring to a hard bristle brush which is wrapped in a towel and used to clean an inmate. McMillan asked a supervisor for help, but she refused. Ultimately, six guards wearing rubber gloves held Vaughn, with his hands cuffed behind his back, in a tub of scalding water. His attorney later estimated the temperature to be about 125 degrees. McMillan proceeded with the bath while one officer pushed down on Vaughns shoulder and held his arms in place. After about fifteen minutes, when Vaughn was finally allowed to stand, his skin peeled off in sheets, hanging in large clumps around his legs. Nurse Barbara Kuroda later testified without rebuttal that she heard a guard say about the black inmate that it looks like were going to have a white boy before this is through his skin is so dirty and so rotten, its all fallen off. Vaughn received no anesthetic for more than forty-five minutes, eventually collapsed from weakness, and was taken to the emergency room. There he went into shock and almost died.

This scene recalls the opening moments of Discipline and Punish, in which Foucault graphically recounts the slow destruction of Robert-Franois Damienss living body in 1757. Of course, todays torture doesnt appear as a spectacle, staged for public edification. Nor does it resemble the touch of pain strategically administered as bitter medicine to cure the lawbreaker of his sickness a concept of corporeal punishment that goes back to Plato. In those cases, pain served a greater social purpose.

In contrast, a set of invisible and unsanctioned but nonetheless systematic practices, hidden away in the most secret parts of the penal system, has allowed brutality to flourish. Away from public scrutiny, it thrives on retributions personalized and sadistic logic, all that remains of the criminal justice systems moral purpose after rehabilitation disappeared.

Oleson summarizes the logic of the present system: [t]he prison no longer attempts to make angels of men. In modern prisons, a transformation of an entirely different kind is taking place: men are becoming animals. We should not be surprised that the modern penal system a pressure cooker of idle men packed into cramped space devolves into overt torture, for this prison was already an institution in which awful things regularly happen. Nor should we be surprised that these zealous punishments dehumanize the punishers no less than the punished.

The transition from a disciplinary to a punitive penal system happened very quickly, although its implications would go unnoticed for a long time. Arguably, we still dont fully understand the nature of this cultural shift, which exceeds the penal system and appears in a number of the institutions of everyday life. But I get ahead of myself.

The punitive turn began in the turmoil of the 1960s, a time of rapidly rising crime rates and urban disorder. In 1968, with US cities in flames and white backlash gaining momentum, congress overwhelmingly passed and Lyndon Johnson reluctantly signed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. As Jonathan Simon has suggested, the act became something like a blueprint for subsequent crime-control lawmaking.

Shaped by a conservative coalition of Western Republicans and Southern Democrats, the legislation invested heavily in local law enforcement, asserted rules for police interrogations designed to countermand the liberal Warren courts decisions, including Miranda, allowed wiretapping without court approval, and, in a successful bid to secure liberal support, included modest gun control provisions.

Although the legislation did little to increase criminal penalties, it reversed the logic of earlier Great Society programs; instead of providing direct investment, the acts block grants ceded control to local agencies, often controlled by conservative governors. Most importantly, the act established the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), an independent branch of the Justice Department. Blaming low conviction rates on a lack of cooperation from victims and witnesses, the LEAA launched demonstration projects aimed at recruiting citizens into the war on crime.

Tough talk about law and order articulated the strange new angers, anxieties, and resentments racking the nation in the 1960s, as Rick Perlstein has shown, and, by 1972, Richard Nixon had consolidated a new governing coalition that still dominates American politics. Nixons anti-crime narrative appealed to the traditional Republican bases rural and small-town values and incorporated conservative Southern Democrats, who viewed the civil rights movement as lawless and disorderly. It also attracted Northern hardhat conservatives and white ethnic voters alarmed at escalating crime, urban riots, and campus unrest. In short, the nascent war on crime firmed up white backlash and gave durable political form to a conservative counter-counterculture.

But race reactionaries were not the only group spreading tough law-and-order rhetoric. Vanessa Barker has described how African American activists, representing the communities hardest hit by surging crime rates, also agitated for harsher penalties for muggers, drug dealers, and first-degree murderers.

In 1973, incarceration rates began an unprecedented thirty-five-year climb, and political tides began to turn even in liberal states. That year, New York passed the most draconian drug legislation in the country. Under the Rockefeller Drug Laws, the minimum penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, or heroin was fifteen years to life. (It took until 2009 for New York to retire much of what remained of these laws.)

Ironically, the Left was helping to prepare the way for a decisive turn to the Right. Leftist activists from the civil rights, black power, and antiwar movements were leveling heavy criticism against the criminal justice system, and rightly so. Patterns of police brutality had been readily discernible triggers of urban unrest and race riots in the late 1960s, and minorities were overrepresented in the prison population (although not as much as today). Summing up New Left critiques, the American Friends Service Committees 1971 report, Struggle for Justice, blasted the US prison system not only for repressing youth, the poor, and minorities but also for paternalistically emphasizing individual rehabilitation. Rehabilitate the system, not the individual, the report urged but the point got lost in the rancorous debates that followed. As David Garland carefully shows, the ensuing nothing works consensus among progressive scholars and experts discouraged prison reform and ultimately lent weight to the arguments of conservatives, whose approach to crime has always been a simple one: Punish the bad man. Put lawbreakers behind bars and keep them there.

In 1974, Robert Martinsons influential article What Works? marked a definitive turning point. Examining rehabilitative penal systems efficacy, Martinson articulated the emerging consensus nothing works, and rehabilitation was a hopelessly misconceived goal.

Tapping into the zeitgeist, Hollywood released Death Wish that same year, followed by a host of other vigilante revenge films. Exploitation movies enlisted a familiar Victorian spectacle sexual outrages against girls and women in the service of right-wing populism. Their plotlines invariably connected liberals, civil libertarians, and high-minded elites with the criminals who tormented the ordinary citizen. Notably, however, such films carefully muted the racial backlash that had inaugurated the punitive turn: they depicted the vicious criminal as white, allowing audiences to enjoy the visceral thrill of vengeance without troubling their racial consciences.

Comprehensive crime-control bills came and went during the Reagan-Bush years, each more punitive than the last, and new social movements emerged around the politicization of crime.

The victims rights movement played an important role in this story. The movement had started inside the liberal welfare state, and proponents originally saw aid for victims of violent crime as the other half of their attempts to rehabilitate convicts. But, as conservatives recruited victims advocacy and self-help groups into the war on crime, the movement began to pit victims rights against the rights of the accused, aligning with claims that hordes of criminals were escaping justice on legal technicalities.

By 1982, the Reagan administration was drawing this movement securely within the compass of the right, as Bruce Shapiro explained. That year, the Presidents Task Force on Victims of Crime published a report based largely on anecdotal horror stories of double victimization and official unresponsiveness. Based in part on this report, congress passed the Victims of Crime Act in 1984.

This movement focused national attention on victims at a time when violent crime rates remained stubbornly high, providing the moral underpinnings for a punitive approach to crime. It persuaded voters to identify with victims, to diminish the rights of the accused, and to accept excessive policing. It aggressively lobbied for the harsher laws, enhanced penalties, and court procedures that put the prison system on steroids.

But liberal rationales also helped the punitive turn put down institutional roots. The victims rights movement had adopted feminist rhetoric around rape and domestic violence. For example, it claimed that survivors are victimized a second time by their unsatisfying experiences with the police and court system. During the same period, mainstream white feminists came to view rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence through a law-and-order lens and many started demanding harsh criminal penalties. This collusion between conservative victims rights advocates and white feminists undermined the historic liberal commitment to enlightened humanitarianism and progressive reform, especially as these related to crime and punishment.

Although no one could have known it at the time, the early 1990s represented a high-water mark in the crime wave that had begun in the early 1960s. In 1991, homicide rates crested at 9.8 per 100,000, matching the rate recorded in 1974 and almost matching the record rate of 10.2 per 100,000 set in 1980. After 1993, the thirty-year crime wave began to recede, but the punitive turn persisted.

In 1994, Democrats aggressively moved to take back the crime issue from Republicans, and a Democratically controlled congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Like the 1968 act, this 1994 legislation pumped a great deal of federal funding into local law enforcement, funding 100,000 new police officers, new prison construction, and new prevention programs in poor neighborhoods. The new legislation also included an assault weapon ban.

Unlike the 1968 act, however, the 1994 version increased penalties for hate crimes, sex crimes, violence against women, and gang-related crimes. It required states to create sex-offender registries and prodded them to adopt truth in sentencing laws that would entail longer prison sentences. It also dramatically expanded the federal death penalty and eliminated support for inmate education programs.

The 1994 act completely reversed Great Society penal welfarism, consolidating the punitive approach, which Democrats, liberals, and some progressive advocacy groups now embraced. Indeed, lawmakers drafted many of the acts sweeping provisions with liberal interest groups in mind.

We have now lived through more than fifty years of this punitive turn. Its resilience resists simple explanations. Originally a conservative phenomenon, it condensed fears over rising crime rates with the political reaction to the upheavals of the 1960s. In its middle period, liberal aims and rhetoric helped spread the logic of incapacitation, enshrining the victim as the subject of governance and treating the offender like toxic waste to be disposed of or contained. Sensational journalism contributed to this shift, honing the publics focus on the victim, stoking panic and outrage.

Successive waves of draconian legislation targeted outsized monsters: drug dealers, repeat offenders, gang members, sexual predators, terrorists and their sympathizers. Americas zeal for punishment has been bolstered not by one or two causes but by a variety of changing factors. Today, perhaps, it persists as much out of institutional inertia as anything else.

If my thumbnail history is accurate, then we must recognize many of the prevailing critiques of American punishment today as either erroneous or partial and inadequate.

For example, we sometimes see scholarly work that treats mass incarceration as an instance of Foucaults theorized disciplinary system. It would be difficult to imagine a more confused approach. No doubt, todays system has retained many of the disciplinary regimes features: the existence of an institution called the prison; forms of power that penetrate even the smallest details of everyday life; the production of a carceral archipelago that exports surveillance from the penal institution to the entire social body. But all this tells us is that institutions communicate with each other: such examples of connectivity do not belong to the disciplinary mode of power alone.

In fact, the current regime of power represents a radical break with the disciplinary regimes logic and aims: by the early 1970s, the United States was renouncing the corrective focus of penal welfarism, and it now deploys supplementary surveillance beyond the walls of the prison not to rehabilitate offenders or regulate conduct but to catch lawbreakers and feed more and more people into the prison system.

Scholars who study the penal system have developed a large body of work connecting mass incarceration to neoliberal economic policies of deregulation and privatization. Some posit a neoliberal cause and a punitive effect, while others argue that deregulation and privatization exacerbated social inequalities and therefore fostered a fear of crime, ultimately producing more surveillance, policing, and incarceration.

Bernard Harcourt provides a broader view, meticulously examining how classical liberal and neoliberal theories approach policing and punishment as market functions and regulators. In my view, however, he never quite demonstrates a strong connection between such models and present-day lawmaking, penalties, and practices.

No doubt, these analyses express an elemental truth about capitalism and coercion. The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist, as an apologist for both once put it. But the language that describes societys humdrum workings cannot explain systemic changes or historic shifts. Nor should we assume that whatever intensifies capitalism will also intensify coercive tactics. After all, neoliberalism is a global phenomenon, but the punitive state remains distinctly American, at least among developed democracies.

In any case, arguments that link neoliberalism and mass incarceration do not match the actual historical trajectory or the varied political currents in play. The punitive turn, as I have sketched it, began in the mid-to-late 1960s, but neoliberal policies did not begin gaining ascendency until the late 1970s.

Certainly, mass incarceration has had large economic effects. Bruce Western and Katherine Beckett estimated that, during the 1990s, Americas zeal for incarceration shaved two percentage points off unemployment figures. Roughly 4 percent of the civilian labor force either works for the penal system or works to put people in prison. If one includes private security positions and workers who monitor or guard other laborers, the results are striking: in an increasingly garrisonized economy, one out of every four or five American laborers is employed in what Samuel Bowles and Arjun Jayadev call guard labor.

No doubt, the American variant of neoliberalism used these facts to help establish itself. Indeed, one might conclude that the punitive turn, with its disdain for rule-breakers, losers, and outcasts, paved the way for the neoliberal turn, with its love of the market.

Another common line of criticism begins by recognizing the role liberals have played in constructing the punitive state. This scholarship conveys essential truths, but it too often overcorrects the prevailing storyline and erases valuable points of reference.

Naomi Murakawas book, The First Civil Right, is a case in point. The author scrutinizes New Deal timidity in the face of racial violence and calls attention to prominent Democrats and liberals who helped build the prison state by pursuing color-blind laws and modern police forces. In telling this important story, however, Murakawa blurs the important distinction between the Great Society approach to law enforcement and the punitive turn that followed.

Had the Democratic Party stayed its fundamentally social-democratic course, had it kept with the penal systems reformist program, had the policies of Johnsons Attorney General Ramsey Clark remained in place, and this is no small matter had the criminal justice system continued to develop alternatives to incarceration, the United States would not have evolved into a carceral state.

It is of course possible that prison rates would still have risen with the crime rates between the 1970s and the 1990s, but they would not have exploded, and mass incarceration would have remained the stuff of dystopian fiction.

Many activists, journalists, and scholars have highlighted draconian drug penalties as a primary cause of mass incarceration. To be sure, the war on drugs played a significant role in the prison systems growth, especially during the 1980s. But it represents just one element of the larger war on crime and has been slowly winding down since the early 2000s.

Today, drug offenders represent only about 15 percent of sentenced prisoners. While this is by no means a negligible number, we need a wider perspective. Enhanced penalties for a variety of offenses drug possession and distribution, surely, but also violent crimes, repeat offenses, crimes committed with a firearm, and sex crimes have all fueled the growth of the penal system. One often-overlooked population is parole violators, who represented 26 percent of prison admissions in 2013. The fact that the parole system, devised to reduce the prison population, now enlarges it gives us important clues about the self-perpetuating nature of the system today.

Finally, sociologists, criminologists, and critical race scholars have closely scrutinized the racial disparities in arrest, prosecution, and incarceration rates. Many conclude that mass incarceration constitutes a modern regime of racial domination or a new Jim Crow.

This perspective highlights important facts. While African Americans make up only 13 percent of drug users, they account for more than a third of drug arrestees, more than half of those convicted on drug charges, and 58 percent of those ultimately sent to prison on drug charges. When convicted, a black person can expect to serve almost as much time for a drug offense as a white person would serve for a violent offense.

These statistics demonstrate how race-neutral laws can produce race-biased effects, especially when police, prosecutors, juries, and judges make racialized judgments all along the way. Needless to say, had the mania for incarceration devastated white middle- or even working-class communities as much as it has black lower- and working-class communities, it would have proved politically intolerable very quickly.

But the racial critique consistently downplays the effects of mass incarceration on non-black communities. The incarceration rate for Latinos has also risen, and the confinement and processing of undocumented immigrants has become especially harsh. And although white men are imprisoned at a substantially lower rate than either black or brown men, there are still more white men in prison, in both raw and per capita numbers, than at any time in US history.

In mid-2007, 773 of every 100,000 white males were imprisoned, roughly one-sixth the rate for black males (4,618 per 100,000) but more than three times the average rate of male confinement from the 1920s through 1972. As James Forman Jr argues, the racial critiques focus on African American imprisonment rates expressly discourages the cross-racial coalitions that will be required to dismantle mass incarceration.

In his important contribution to this debate, Forman has outlined the racial critiques main limitations. First, he argues that this analysis minimizes the historical effect of spiking crime rates on public opinion and lawmaking. By blaming only white backlash for harsher penalties, the racial critique obscures substantial levels of black support for these policies.

Second, Forman shows that the often-invoked Jim Crow system makes for a poor analogy with mass incarceration. Jim Crow was a legal caste system that took no notice of class distinctions among black people. By contrast, todays punitive system does not affect all African Americans the same way; rather, it predisposes the poorest and least educated to incarceration, and the impact of mass incarceration is concentrated in black inner-city neighborhoods. (As Bruce Western has shown, the risk of going to prison for college-educated black men actually decreased slightly between 1979 and 1999.)

Third, because of its emphasis on drug laws, the racial critique skirts the important question of violent crime. Roughly half the prisoners now in custody were convicted of violent crimes, and racial disparities among this population are even wider. [An] effective response to mass incarceration, Forman concludes, will require directly confronting the issue of violent crime and developing policy responses that can compete with the punitive approach that currently dominates American criminal policy.

We might make a similar argument about the racial critique of abusive policing, which highlights important injustices but fails to provide a comprehensive picture of the whole system. Police do kill more black than white men per capita, a disparity that only increases in the smaller subset of unarmed men killed in encounters with police. But in raw numbers cops kill almost twice as many white men, and non-blacks make up about 74 percent of the people killed by police. We cannot dismiss these numbers as collateral damage from a racialized system that targets black bodies.

Examining the profile of these unarmed men is revelatory. Statistically, an unarmed white man has a slightly smaller chance of being killed by law enforcement than he does of being killed by lightning; an unarmed black mans is a few times more. In either case, these rates are many times higher than in other affluent democracies, where violent crime rates are lower, the citizenry is less armed, and police if armed at all are less trigger-happy.

Whether black or white, the victims of police shootings have a lot in common: many were experiencing psychotic episodes either due to chronic mental illness or drug use when the police were called. Many had prior arrest records or were otherwise previously known to the police. Whether black, white, or brown, the victims of police shootings are disproportionately sub-proletarian or lower working-class.

Exceptions occur the white middle-class teen shot in the back while fleeing from the police; the black child spotted in the park and hastily shot with what turned out to be a toy gun but most victims appear to have lived lives of extreme precarity, variously marked by racial discrimination, poverty, mental illness, and social abandonment.

Thus far I have described the rise of the carceral state in largely negative terms: what happened in the late 1960s was not only a war on drugs nor a new system of racial domination but something wider. A succession of changing motives and rationales supported the punitive turn, and the urge to punish came from an array of sectors and institutions. The time has come to sum up my analysis in more positive terms.

First, beginning in the 1970s, all social institutions turned toward detection, capture, and sanction. A broad-spectrum cultural shift away from values of forbearance, forgiveness, and redemption animated this transformation. The punitive turn was, first and foremost, a cultural turn.

Many observers today look skeptically at cultural explanations of this sort, which claim that people do x because they believe y. From structuralism to poststructuralism and beyond, a cavalcade of theoretical currents promoted an abstract idea of culture, severing it from history and political economy. In highlighting the cultural element in these developments, however, I do not mean to suggest that culture always sets the course of historical events, only that it sometimes does a point that Friedrich Engels was also keen to make.

Further, I do not assert that once the desire to punish got into peoples heads, it spread uniformly throughout society, nor would I argue that this cultural shift sprang into being ex nihilo.

At its inception, the punitive turn found fertile ground in preexisting institutions of race and class. As it developed, political actors and moral entrepreneurs reworked received ideas, some of them older than the republic, some of them torn from the headlines. The United States long history of capitalism and various forms of power all participated in the carceral states development.

Second, federal legislation played a key role in institutionalizing and hardening this cultural change. This was not merely a question of mechanizing the law with mandatory minimum sentences or three strikes provisions but of automating a system of interconnecting institutions.

The nucleus of this development was already present in the 1968 Safe Streets Act, aimed at expanding and modernizing policing, and in the LEAA, designed to increase prosecution and conviction rates. From this start, police forces grew, became more proactive, and made more arrests.

Securing greater cooperation from more victims, prosecutors brought more cases to court often with higher charges. Responding to the shifting mood, judges sentenced more defendants. Across four decades, legislators passed laws that criminalized more activities, increased sentences, and expressly barred compromise, early release, consideration of mitigating circumstances, and so on. Put simply, the law became more punitive. Such mechanisms could persist under changing conditions because a vast institutional network spanning the state and civil society actively produced fresh rationales for them.

The punitive turn was consolidated into a punitive avalanche.

The result was a transformed system, in which prison, parole, and so on were stripped of their disciplinary aims (reeducation, rehabilitation, reintegration) and reoriented toward strictly punitive goals (detection, apprehension, incapacitation). Horkheimer and Adorno would have called this instrumental rationality: a nightmare version of bureaucracy that suspends critical reasoning and tries to establish the most efficient means to achieve an irrational end.

The present moment seems propitious for change. Violent crime rates have fallen to levels not seen since the early 1960s, reducing public pressure for harsh laws and tough sentences. Upbeat journalists periodically write stories covering more rational approaches to crime and punishment in even conservative states. The criminal justice systems racial disparities have become a point of national embarrassment, and, as early as 2007, the United States Sentencing Commission began retroactively intervening to reduce the sentences of some federal inmates convicted on crack-cocaine charges. Polls suggest that Americans across the political spectrum largely support reducing the number of people in prison.

Improvements have moved slowly, however. The prison population fell from a peak of 2.3 million in 2008 to 2.1 million today, but more substantial declines do not appear to be forthcoming. Thanks to our federal system, substantially reforming the carceral regime will prove difficult: it will demand revising thousands of laws and practices at mostly local levels.

Meanwhile, the Left is divided over how to imagine and advocate for our goals. Prison abolitionism has gathered steam among some activists, although it shows little sign of winning over the wider public. With evangelical zeal, abolitionists insist that we must choose between abolition and reform, while discounting reform as a viable option. The history of the prison system, they say, is a history of reform and look where that has gotten us.

I have tried to show here whats wrong with this argument. It is remarkably innocent of history. In fact, the history of reform was interrupted some time around 1973 and what we have had instead for the past five decades is a history of counter-reform. The unconscionable conditions we see today are not inevitable byproducts of the prison; they are the results of the punitive turn.

Abolitionists base their approach on an analogy between the prison system and chattel slavery. This is a strained analogy at best, and it only appears convincing in light of the oversized and unusually cruel American penal system. Slavery was an institution for the extraction of unfree labor over a persons (and his or her childrens) lifetime; the prison is an institution that imposes unfreedom for a set period of time as punishment for serious infractions historically with the express bargain that at least theoretically the lawbreaker was to be improved and reintegrated into society. The better analogy might be with other disciplinary institutions, which also to varying degrees curb freedoms in the name of personal and social good: the school, the hospital, the psychiatric institution.

Abolitionists usually respond to the obvious criticism but every country has prisons by citing Angela Daviss polemical work, Are Prisons Obsolete? Slavery, too, was once universal, they point out; it required the abolitionists utopian vision to put an end to that unjust institution.

But this, too, misstates history. By the time American abolitionism got fully underway in the 1830s, much of Europe and parts of Latin American had already partially or wholly abolished slavery. The Haitian Revolution had dealt the institution a major blow, and slavery was imploding in parts of the Caribbean. A world without slavery was scarcely unthinkable. The same cannot be said of prisons: all signs suggest that the public and not only in the United States believes that prisons are legitimate.

Abolitionist arguments usually gesture at restorative justice, imagining that some sorts of community institutions will oversee non-penal forms of restitution. But here, we are very far out on a limb. Such models might more or less work in small-scale, face-to-face indigenous or religious communities. But, in modern cities, it is implausible to think that families, kinship networks, neighborhood organizations, and the like can adjudicate reconciliation in a fair, consistent manner.

In short, abolitionism promises a heaven-on-earth that will never come to pass. What we really need to do is fight for measures that have already proven humane, effective, and consistent with social and criminal justice.

Consider Finland. In the 1950s, it had high crime rates and a punitive penal system with high incarceration rates and terrible prison conditions. In these regards Finland then was much like the United States today. After decades of humanitarian and social-democratic reforms, the country now has less than one-tenth the rate of incarceration as the United States. Its prisons resemble dormitories with high-quality health care, counseling services, and educational opportunities. Not coincidentally, its prison system does not breed anger, resentment, and recidivism.

Finlands system aligns with that of other Nordic and Northern European nations, all of whom remained continuously on the path of reform. There, small-scale penal institutions are insulated from public opinion, with its periodic rages against lawbreakers, and prioritize genuine criminological expertise. They have expressly rehabilitative aims, working not only to punish but also to repair the person and restore him to society. Penalties top out at around twenty years, consistent with the finding that longer sentences have neither a rehabilitative nor a deterring effect. Many Scandinavian prisons have no walls and allow prisoners to leave during the day for jobs or shopping. Bedrooms have windows, not bars. Kitchens and common areas resemble Ikea displays.

Rather than call for the complete abolition of prisons a policy unlikely to win broad public support the American left should fight to introduce these conditions into our penal system. We should strive not for pie-in-the-sky imaginings but for working models already achieved in Scandinavian and other social democracies. We should demand dramatically better prison conditions, the release of nonviolent first offenders under other forms of supervision, discretionary parole for violent offenders who provide evidence of rehabilitation, decriminalization of simple drug possession, and a broad revision of sentencing laws. Such demands would attract support from a number of prominent social movements, creating a strong base from which we can begin to build a stronger, universal safety net.

Institutions become obsolete only when more effective and more progressive alternatives become available. The poorhouse disappeared when its functions were replaced by social security, public assistance, health care clinics, and mental and psychiatric hospitals. We see no such emergent institutions on the horizon today that might render prisons a thing of the past. What we see instead are examples of criminal justice systems that have continued reforming, modulating, humanizing, shrinking, and decentralizing the functions of the prison. Creating just such a correctional system, based on genuinely rehabilitative goals consistent with our view of social justice, should be a main task of socialists today.

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How to End Mass Incarceration – Jacobin magazine

‘Why we shouldn’t mourn the loss of controlled assessment this GCSE results day’ – TES News

There are many and varied examples of the assessment jargon that litters education. The system assesses so oftenthat conjuring new names for the manner and form of it is an art, requiring not only teachers but also parents and students to use them ad nauseum.

One such is controlled assessment: that contribution to the final qualification outcome made not by an examination, but by some form of project work, completed under the supervision of the class teacher, who also then marks it.

Controlled assessment is so named because it is not coursework, which could be taken home. Instead, it must be done in class time.

The latitude given to teachers in controlled assessment issubstantialand the opportunities to nudge the results of some, most or indeed all of the children in the desired direction is ever-present. Perhaps through sharing the specific question too early, or inappropriately editing a students work.

Even if an individual teacher has the moral fibre to resist that temptation, senior management might take a different viewand subtly or perhaps bluntly highlight ways in which the constraints of the rubric can be pushed against and, in some cases, pushed through.

It is a hard truth to acknowledge that cheating or the hardly better euphemism gaming is a problem in teaching. In 2016there were 388 penalties for all forms of cheating, including controlled assessment infractions, issued to school and college staff, an increase from 262 in 2015 and 119 in 2014.

The Tesforums are filled with people who suspect itand several who are open that they have seen it happening in their own school and do not know what to do about it. Innocent teachers and students were the victims of this behaviour.

In 2010, the coalition government more-or-less resolved this problem for teachers by announcing the almost totalabolition of controlled assessment from the reformed GCSEs. This week, the results of the first of those GCSEs English language, English literature and mathematics will be published.

Given that both the content and the construction of the exams is deliberately designed to make them harder, it is likely schools will see some decline in the quality of their results.

Students should be spared problems arising from this by the decision to align the new Grade 4 with the bottom of the old C-grade, so much the same number as got passing grades last year will get them this year, too. Schools, who are to be judged on the number of Grade 5 students receive, may feel more aggrieved.

Almost certainly, some will seek to blame the abolition of controlled assessment in English as one of the reasons for the changes in outcomes. They will probably be right, because controlled assessment is habitually marked more positively than terminal examinations, but no teacher should mourn the loss of controlled assessment.

As well as being enormous amounts of work to teach, invigilate and mark, it presented an unpleasant ethical challenge to all teachers and left a whiff of immorality around our profession that we are well rid of.

John Blake is head of education and social reform at the think-tank Policy Exchange, before which he was a state-school history teacher for 10 years.

Keep up to date with all the latest GCSE news, views and analysis on ourGCSE hub.

Find outwhat colleagues are chatting about in your discipline by visiting the subject based forums in the Tes Community or you can join in the conversation about GCSE results day.

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‘Why we shouldn’t mourn the loss of controlled assessment this GCSE results day’ – TES News

Abolition and replacement of the 457 visa Government …

On 18 April 2017, the Government announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary SkillShortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.

The TSS visa programme will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years and will support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers.

This new visa is part of the Governments significant reform package to strengthen the integrity and quality of Australias temporary and permanent employer sponsored skilled migration programmes.

Key reforms include:

The implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and will be completed in March 2018.

Further information on reforms is available:

Further information on different aspects of the reforms will be published in due course.

1 Set at $53,900 as at 12 April 2016.

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Abolition and replacement of the 457 visa Government …

How to End Mass Incarceration – Jacobin – Jacobin magazine

The United States has not always been the worlds leading jailer, the only affluent democracy to make incapacitation its criminal justice systems goal. Once upon a time, it fashioned itself as the very model of what Michel Foucault called the disciplinary society. That is, it took an enlightened approach to punishment, progressively tethering it to rehabilitative ideals. Today, it is a carceral state, plain and simple. It posts the highest incarceration rate in the world as well as the highest violent crime rate among high-income countries.

Politicians, reporters, and activists from across the political spectrum have analyzed the ongoing crisis of mass incarceration. Their accounts sometimes depict our current plight as an expression of puritanism, as an extension of slavery or Jim Crow, or as an exigency of capitalism. But these approaches fail to address the question that ought to be foremost in front of us: what was the nature of the punitive turn that pushed the US off the path of reform and turned its correctional system into a rogue institution?

While the state-sanctioned brutality that now marks the American criminal justice system has motivated many activists to call for the complete abolition of prisons, we must begin with a clearer understanding of the complex institutional shifts that created and reproduce the phenomenon of mass incarceration. Only then will we be able to see a clear path out of the current impasse.

The core features of Foucaults account of crime, punishment, and social control are well known, although they have not always been well understood. In the disciplinary society he describes, authorities progressively withdraw punishment from public view. And as discipline becomes increasingly private, it shifts its focus from criminals bodies to their minds. Increasingly, punishment is calculated to rehabilitate it is not meant to damage or destroy.

Foucault highlighted how these disciplinary reforms created new and more effective tactics for consolidating power, especially as they spread to non-judicial institutions, like schools, hospitals, factories, and offices. Unlike its predecessor, sovereign power, which subtracts giving kings the right to seize property, to damage or take lives disciplinary power corrects. The Enlightenments gentle punishments would convince the miscreant to mend his crooked ways, not beat the bad behavior out of him.

An American preference for rehabilitative discipline over harsh punishment has deep roots. Resonant with the image of the country as a nation of laws, American justice promised to punish lawbreakers only as much as was necessary to straighten them out. The Bill of Rights prohibited torture, and the Quaker reformers who founded early American penitentiaries treated them as utopian experiments in discipline, purgatories where penitents would suffer and introspect until they found salvation.

No doubt time and circumstance created different opinions about how much suffering genuine personal reformation required, but American practices generally aligned with rising standards of decency. As James Q. Whitman notes, Europeans once viewed the US prison system as a model of enlightened practices. Foreign governments sent delegations on tours of American penitentiaries, and Alexis de Tocqueville extolled the mildness of American punishment.

Of course, we can find exceptions. Southern penal systems, racialized after the Civil War under the convict-lease system, didnt even pretend to have rehabilitative aims. They existed to control the black population and supply cheap labor for agriculture and industry. No doubt, too, the spectacles of punishment associated with popular colonial justice the pillory, the stockade, the scarlet letter cast long shadows across American history.

But, even in the face of these contradictions, the US criminal justice system seemed to support a grand narrative of progressive history: the arc of history bends toward justice, and the slave drivers lash and the lynch mobs noose disappeared as the nation extended more rights and more freedoms to more people. Reasoned law inexorably overcomes communal violence and brute domination.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr thus distinguishes the true essence of the United States from its various manifestations of racism and intolerance, glossing history as the perpetual struggle of Americans to fulfill their deepest values in an enigmatic world.

As recently as fifty-odd years ago, Americans could still believe this story. Here, as in other North Atlantic countries, modern penal models that stress rehabilitation, reform, and welfare had become the prevailing approaches. At the peak of this trend, Great Society programs attempted to address crimes socioeconomic causes: poverty, institutional racism, alienation.

Indeed, as a result of the legal reforms of the 1960s, the American prison population was shrinking, and the state was developing alternatives to incarceration: kinder, gentler institutions that focused on supervision, reeducation, and rehabilitation. To many observers, the prison system actually seemed to be reforming itself out of existence. Leo Bersanis review of Foucaults Discipline and Punish began with the (now astonishing) sentence The era of prisons may be nearly over.

Nothing in Foucaults analysis or anyone elses, as David Garland has remarked could have predicted what followed: a sudden punitive turn designed to incapacitate prisoners rather than rehabilitate them. The practice of locking people up for long periods of time became the criminal justice systems organizing principle, and prisons turned into a reservation system, a quarantine zone where purportedly dangerous individuals are segregated in the name of public safety. The resulting system of mass incarceration, Garland writes, resembles

nothing so much as the Soviet gulag a string of work camps and prisons strung across a vast country, housing [more than] two million people most of whom are drawn from classes and racial groups that have become politically and economically problematic. Like the pre-modern sanctions of transportation or banishment, the prison now functions as a form of exile.

At the peak of this mania, one in every ninety-nine adults was behind bars. Since 2008, these numbers have leveled off and even posted modest declines, but the basic contours remain intact. The United States ranks first in imprisonment among significant nations, whether measured in terms of incarceration rates which remains five to ten times higher than those of other developed democracies or in terms of the absolute number of people in prison.

Hyper-policing helped make hyper-punishment possible. By the mid-2000s, police were arresting a staggering fourteen million Americans each year, excluding traffic violations up from a little more than three million in 1960. That is, the annual arrest rate as a percentage of the population nearly tripled, from 1.6 percent in 1960 to 4.5 percent in 2009. Today, almost one-third of the adult population has an arrest record.

At prevailing rates of incarceration, one in every fifteen Americans will serve time in a prison. For men the rate is more than one in nine. For African American men, the expected lifetime rate runs even higher: roughly one in three.

These figures have no precedent in the United States: not under Puritanism, not even under Jim Crow. While some observers point to significant declines in crime statistics after 1994 as evidence of these policies success, informed estimates show that locking up millions of people for long periods contributed to only as much as 27 percent and as little as 10 percent of the overall reduction in crime.

Eighth Amendment prohibitions notwithstanding, conditions in Americas crowded prisons have sunk to the level of torture. Indeed, the Supreme Courts Brown v. Plata decision affirmed that overpopulation itself constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, creating unsafe and unsanitary conditions, depriving prisoners of basic sustenance, including adequate medical care. The court found that mass incarceration is incompatible with the concept of human dignity.

In this context, structural abuses invariably flourish. Reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch catalog various forms of sanctioned and unsanctioned human rights abuses. These include beatings and chokings, extended solitary confinement in maximum security and so-called supermax prisons, the mistreatment of juvenile and mentally ill detainees, and the inhumane use of restraints, electrical devices, and attack dogs.

Modern prisons have become places of irredeemable harm and trauma. J. C. Oleson surveys these dehumanizing warehouse prisons, where guards have overseen systems of sexual slavery or orchestrated gladiator-style fights between inmates.

Sally Mann Romano describes shocking brutality in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of Californias Pelican Bay State Prison, once touted as a model supermax prison:

It was in this unit that Vaughn Dortch, a prisoner with a life-long history of mental problems, was confined after a conviction for grand theft. There, the stark conditions of isolation caused his mental condition to dramatically deteriorate, to the point that he smeared himself repeatedly with feces and urine. Prison officials took Vaughn to the infirmary to bathe him and asked a medical technician, Irven McMillan, if he wanted a part of this bath. McMillan responded that he would take some of the brush end, referring to a hard bristle brush which is wrapped in a towel and used to clean an inmate. McMillan asked a supervisor for help, but she refused. Ultimately, six guards wearing rubber gloves held Vaughn, with his hands cuffed behind his back, in a tub of scalding water. His attorney later estimated the temperature to be about 125 degrees. McMillan proceeded with the bath while one officer pushed down on Vaughns shoulder and held his arms in place. After about fifteen minutes, when Vaughn was finally allowed to stand, his skin peeled off in sheets, hanging in large clumps around his legs. Nurse Barbara Kuroda later testified without rebuttal that she heard a guard say about the black inmate that it looks like were going to have a white boy before this is through his skin is so dirty and so rotten, its all fallen off. Vaughn received no anesthetic for more than forty-five minutes, eventually collapsed from weakness, and was taken to the emergency room. There he went into shock and almost died.

This scene recalls the opening moments of Discipline and Punish, in which Foucault graphically recounts the slow destruction of Robert-Franois Damienss living body in 1757. Of course, todays torture doesnt appear as a spectacle, staged for public edification. Nor does it resemble the touch of pain strategically administered as bitter medicine to cure the lawbreaker of his sickness a concept of corporeal punishment that goes back to Plato. In those cases, pain served a greater social purpose.

In contrast, a set of invisible and unsanctioned but nonetheless systematic practices, hidden away in the most secret parts of the penal system, has allowed brutality to flourish. Away from public scrutiny, it thrives on retributions personalized and sadistic logic, all that remains of the criminal justice systems moral purpose after rehabilitation disappeared.

Oleson summarizes the logic of the present system: [t]he prison no longer attempts to make angels of men. In modern prisons, a transformation of an entirely different kind is taking place: men are becoming animals. We should not be surprised that the modern penal system a pressure cooker of idle men packed into cramped space devolves into overt torture, for this prison was already an institution in which awful things regularly happen. Nor should we be surprised that these zealous punishments dehumanize the punishers no less than the punished.

The transition from a disciplinary to a punitive penal system happened very quickly, although its implications would go unnoticed for a long time. Arguably, we still dont fully understand the nature of this cultural shift, which exceeds the penal system and appears in a number of the institutions of everyday life. But I get ahead of myself.

The punitive turn began in the turmoil of the 1960s, a time of rapidly rising crime rates and urban disorder. In 1968, with US cities in flames and white backlash gaining momentum, congress overwhelmingly passed and Lyndon Johnson reluctantly signed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. As Jonathan Simon has suggested, the act became something like a blueprint for subsequent crime-control lawmaking.

Shaped by a conservative coalition of Western Republicans and Southern Democrats, the legislation invested heavily in local law enforcement, asserted rules for police interrogations designed to countermand the liberal Warren courts decisions, including Miranda, allowed wiretapping without court approval, and, in a successful bid to secure liberal support, included modest gun control provisions.

Although the legislation did little to increase criminal penalties, it reversed the logic of earlier Great Society programs; instead of providing direct investment, the acts block grants ceded control to local agencies, often controlled by conservative governors. Most importantly, the act established the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), an independent branch of the Justice Department. Blaming low conviction rates on a lack of cooperation from victims and witnesses, the LEAA launched demonstration projects aimed at recruiting citizens into the war on crime.

Tough talk about law and order articulated the strange new angers, anxieties, and resentments racking the nation in the 1960s, as Rick Perlstein has shown, and, by 1972, Richard Nixon had consolidated a new governing coalition that still dominates American politics. Nixons anti-crime narrative appealed to the traditional Republican bases rural and small-town values and incorporated conservative Southern Democrats, who viewed the civil rights movement as lawless and disorderly. It also attracted Northern hardhat conservatives and white ethnic voters alarmed at escalating crime, urban riots, and campus unrest. In short, the nascent war on crime firmed up white backlash and gave durable political form to a conservative counter-counterculture.

But race reactionaries were not the only group spreading tough law-and-order rhetoric. Vanessa Barker has described how African American activists, representing the communities hardest hit by surging crime rates, also agitated for harsher penalties for muggers, drug dealers, and first-degree murderers.

In 1973, incarceration rates began an unprecedented thirty-five-year climb, and political tides began to turn even in liberal states. That year, New York passed the most draconian drug legislation in the country. Under the Rockefeller Drug Laws, the minimum penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, or heroin was fifteen years to life. (It took until 2009 for New York to retire much of what remained of these laws.)

Ironically, the Left was helping to prepare the way for a decisive turn to the Right. Leftist activists from the civil rights, black power, and antiwar movements were leveling heavy criticism against the criminal justice system, and rightly so. Patterns of police brutality had been readily discernible triggers of urban unrest and race riots in the late 1960s, and minorities were overrepresented in the prison population (although not as much as today). Summing up New Left critiques, the American Friends Service Committees 1971 report, Struggle for Justice, blasted the US prison system not only for repressing youth, the poor, and minorities but also for paternalistically emphasizing individual rehabilitation. Rehabilitate the system, not the individual, the report urged but the point got lost in the rancorous debates that followed. As David Garland carefully shows, the ensuing nothing works consensus among progressive scholars and experts discouraged prison reform and ultimately lent weight to the arguments of conservatives, whose approach to crime has always been a simple one: Punish the bad man. Put lawbreakers behind bars and keep them there.

In 1974, Robert Martinsons influential article What Works? marked a definitive turning point. Examining rehabilitative penal systems efficacy, Martinson articulated the emerging consensus nothing works, and rehabilitation was a hopelessly misconceived goal.

Tapping into the zeitgeist, Hollywood released Death Wish that same year, followed by a host of other vigilante revenge films. Exploitation movies enlisted a familiar Victorian spectacle sexual outrages against girls and women in the service of right-wing populism. Their plotlines invariably connected liberals, civil libertarians, and high-minded elites with the criminals who tormented the ordinary citizen. Notably, however, such films carefully muted the racial backlash that had inaugurated the punitive turn: they depicted the vicious criminal as white, allowing audiences to enjoy the visceral thrill of vengeance without troubling their racial consciences.

Comprehensive crime-control bills came and went during the Reagan-Bush years, each more punitive than the last, and new social movements emerged around the politicization of crime.

The victims rights movement played an important role in this story. The movement had started inside the liberal welfare state, and proponents originally saw aid for victims of violent crime as the other half of their attempts to rehabilitate convicts. But, as conservatives recruited victims advocacy and self-help groups into the war on crime, the movement began to pit victims rights against the rights of the accused, aligning with claims that hordes of criminals were escaping justice on legal technicalities.

By 1982, the Reagan administration was drawing this movement securely within the compass of the right, as Bruce Shapiro explained. That year, the Presidents Task Force on Victims of Crime published a report based largely on anecdotal horror stories of double victimization and official unresponsiveness. Based in part on this report, congress passed the Victims of Crime Act in 1984.

This movement focused national attention on victims at a time when violent crime rates remained stubbornly high, providing the moral underpinnings for a punitive approach to crime. It persuaded voters to identify with victims, to diminish the rights of the accused, and to accept excessive policing. It aggressively lobbied for the harsher laws, enhanced penalties, and court procedures that put the prison system on steroids.

But liberal rationales also helped the punitive turn put down institutional roots. The victims rights movement had adopted feminist rhetoric around rape and domestic violence. For example, it claimed that survivors are victimized a second time by their unsatisfying experiences with the police and court system. During the same period, mainstream white feminists came to view rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence through a law-and-order lens and many started demanding harsh criminal penalties. This collusion between conservative victims rights advocates and white feminists undermined the historic liberal commitment to enlightened humanitarianism and progressive reform, especially as these related to crime and punishment.

Although no one could have known it at the time, the early 1990s represented a high-water mark in the crime wave that had begun in the early 1960s. In 1991, homicide rates crested at 9.8 per 100,000, matching the rate recorded in 1974 and almost matching the record rate of 10.2 per 100,000 set in 1980. After 1993, the thirty-year crime wave began to recede, but the punitive turn persisted.

In 1994, Democrats aggressively moved to take back the crime issue from Republicans, and a Democratically controlled congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Like the 1968 act, this 1994 legislation pumped a great deal of federal funding into local law enforcement, funding 100,000 new police officers, new prison construction, and new prevention programs in poor neighborhoods. The new legislation also included an assault weapon ban.

Unlike the 1968 act, however, the 1994 version increased penalties for hate crimes, sex crimes, violence against women, and gang-related crimes. It required states to create sex-offender registries and prodded them to adopt truth in sentencing laws that would entail longer prison sentences. It also dramatically expanded the federal death penalty and eliminated support for inmate education programs.

The 1994 act completely reversed Great Society penal welfarism, consolidating the punitive approach, which Democrats, liberals, and some progressive advocacy groups now embraced. Indeed, lawmakers drafted many of the acts sweeping provisions with liberal interest groups in mind.

We have now lived through more than fifty years of this punitive turn. Its resilience resists simple explanations. Originally a conservative phenomenon, it condensed fears over rising crime rates with the political reaction to the upheavals of the 1960s. In its middle period, liberal aims and rhetoric helped spread the logic of incapacitation, enshrining the victim as the subject of governance and treating the offender like toxic waste to be disposed of or contained. Sensational journalism contributed to this shift, honing the publics focus on the victim, stoking panic and outrage.

Successive waves of draconian legislation targeted outsized monsters: drug dealers, repeat offenders, gang members, sexual predators, terrorists and their sympathizers. Americas zeal for punishment has been bolstered not by one or two causes but by a variety of changing factors. Today, perhaps, it persists as much out of institutional inertia as anything else.

If my thumbnail history is accurate, then we must recognize many of the prevailing critiques of American punishment today as either erroneous or partial and inadequate.

For example, we sometimes see scholarly work that treats mass incarceration as an instance of Foucaults theorized disciplinary system. It would be difficult to imagine a more confused approach. No doubt, todays system has retained many of the disciplinary regimes features: the existence of an institution called the prison; forms of power that penetrate even the smallest details of everyday life; the production of a carceral archipelago that exports surveillance from the penal institution to the entire social body. But all this tells us is that institutions communicate with each other: such examples of connectivity do not belong to the disciplinary mode of power alone.

In fact, the current regime of power represents a radical break with the disciplinary regimes logic and aims: by the early 1970s, the United States was renouncing the corrective focus of penal welfarism, and it now deploys supplementary surveillance beyond the walls of the prison not to rehabilitate offenders or regulate conduct but to catch lawbreakers and feed more and more people into the prison system.

Scholars who study the penal system have developed a large body of work connecting mass incarceration to neoliberal economic policies of deregulation and privatization. Some posit a neoliberal cause and a punitive effect, while others argue that deregulation and privatization exacerbated social inequalities and therefore fostered a fear of crime, ultimately producing more surveillance, policing, and incarceration.

Bernard Harcourt provides a broader view, meticulously examining how classical liberal and neoliberal theories approach policing and punishment as market functions and regulators. In my view, however, he never quite demonstrates a strong connection between such models and present-day lawmaking, penalties, and practices.

No doubt, these analyses express an elemental truth about capitalism and coercion. The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist, as an apologist for both once put it. But the language that describes societys humdrum workings cannot explain systemic changes or historic shifts. Nor should we assume that whatever intensifies capitalism will also intensify coercive tactics. After all, neoliberalism is a global phenomenon, but the punitive state remains distinctly American, at least among developed democracies.

In any case, arguments that link neoliberalism and mass incarceration do not match the actual historical trajectory or the varied political currents in play. The punitive turn, as I have sketched it, began in the mid-to-late 1960s, but neoliberal policies did not begin gaining ascendency until the late 1970s.

Certainly, mass incarceration has had large economic effects. Bruce Western and Katherine Beckett estimated that, during the 1990s, Americas zeal for incarceration shaved two percentage points off unemployment figures. Roughly 4 percent of the civilian labor force either works for the penal system or works to put people in prison. If one includes private security positions and workers who monitor or guard other laborers, the results are striking: in an increasingly garrisonized economy, one out of every four or five American laborers is employed in what Samuel Bowles and Arjun Jayadev call guard labor.

No doubt, the American variant of neoliberalism used these facts to help establish itself. Indeed, one might conclude that the punitive turn, with its disdain for rule-breakers, losers, and outcasts, paved the way for the neoliberal turn, with its love of the market.

Another common line of criticism begins by recognizing the role liberals have played in constructing the punitive state. This scholarship conveys essential truths, but it too often overcorrects the prevailing storyline and erases valuable points of reference.

Naomi Murakawas book, The First Civil Right, is a case in point. The author scrutinizes New Deal timidity in the face of racial violence and calls attention to prominent Democrats and liberals who helped build the prison state by pursuing color-blind laws and modern police forces. In telling this important story, however, Murakawa blurs the important distinction between the Great Society approach to law enforcement and the punitive turn that followed.

Had the Democratic Party stayed its fundamentally social-democratic course, had it kept with the penal systems reformist program, had the policies of Johnsons Attorney General Ramsey Clark remained in place, and this is no small matter had the criminal justice system continued to develop alternatives to incarceration, the United States would not have evolved into a carceral state.

It is of course possible that prison rates would still have risen with the crime rates between the 1970s and the 1990s, but they would not have exploded, and mass incarceration would have remained the stuff of dystopian fiction.

Many activists, journalists, and scholars have highlighted draconian drug penalties as a primary cause of mass incarceration. To be sure, the war on drugs played a significant role in the prison systems growth, especially during the 1980s. But it represents just one element of the larger war on crime and has been slowly winding down since the early 2000s.

Today, drug offenders represent only about 15 percent of sentenced prisoners. While this is by no means a negligible number, we need a wider perspective. Enhanced penalties for a variety of offenses drug possession and distribution, surely, but also violent crimes, repeat offenses, crimes committed with a firearm, and sex crimes have all fueled the growth of the penal system. One often-overlooked population is parole violators, who represented 26 percent of prison admissions in 2013. The fact that the parole system, devised to reduce the prison population, now enlarges it gives us important clues about the self-perpetuating nature of the system today.

Finally, sociologists, criminologists, and critical race scholars have closely scrutinized the racial disparities in arrest, prosecution, and incarceration rates. Many conclude that mass incarceration constitutes a modern regime of racial domination or a new Jim Crow.

This perspective highlights important facts. While African Americans make up only 13 percent of drug users, they account for more than a third of drug arrestees, more than half of those convicted on drug charges, and 58 percent of those ultimately sent to prison on drug charges. When convicted, a black person can expect to serve almost as much time for a drug offense as a white person would serve for a violent offense.

These statistics demonstrate how race-neutral laws can produce race-biased effects, especially when police, prosecutors, juries, and judges make racialized judgments all along the way. Needless to say, had the mania for incarceration devastated white middle- or even working-class communities as much as it has black lower- and working-class communities, it would have proved politically intolerable very quickly.

But the racial critique consistently downplays the effects of mass incarceration on non-black communities. The incarceration rate for Latinos has also risen, and the confinement and processing of undocumented immigrants has become especially harsh. And although white men are imprisoned at a substantially lower rate than either black or brown men, there are still more white men in prison, in both raw and per capita numbers, than at any time in US history.

In mid-2007, 773 of every 100,000 white males were imprisoned, roughly one-sixth the rate for black males (4,618 per 100,000) but more than three times the average rate of male confinement from the 1920s through 1972. As James Forman Jr argues, the racial critiques focus on African American imprisonment rates expressly discourages the cross-racial coalitions that will be required to dismantle mass incarceration.

In his important contribution to this debate, Forman has outlined the racial critiques main limitations. First, he argues that this analysis minimizes the historical effect of spiking crime rates on public opinion and lawmaking. By blaming only white backlash for harsher penalties, the racial critique obscures substantial levels of black support for these policies.

Second, Forman shows that the often-invoked Jim Crow system makes for a poor analogy with mass incarceration. Jim Crow was a legal caste system that took no notice of class distinctions among black people. By contrast, todays punitive system does not affect all African Americans the same way; rather, it predisposes the poorest and least educated to incarceration, and the impact of mass incarceration is concentrated in black inner-city neighborhoods. (As Bruce Western has shown, the risk of going to prison for college-educated black men actually decreased slightly between 1979 and 1999.)

Third, because of its emphasis on drug laws, the racial critique skirts the important question of violent crime. Roughly half the prisoners now in custody were convicted of violent crimes, and racial disparities among this population are even wider. [An] effective response to mass incarceration, Forman concludes, will require directly confronting the issue of violent crime and developing policy responses that can compete with the punitive approach that currently dominates American criminal policy.

We might make a similar argument about the racial critique of abusive policing, which highlights important injustices but fails to provide a comprehensive picture of the whole system. Police do kill more black than white men per capita, a disparity that only increases in the smaller subset of unarmed men killed in encounters with police. But in raw numbers cops kill almost twice as many white men, and non-blacks make up about 74 percent of the people killed by police. We cannot dismiss these numbers as collateral damage from a racialized system that targets black bodies.

Examining the profile of these unarmed men is revelatory. Statistically, an unarmed white man has a slightly smaller chance of being killed by law enforcement than he does of being killed by lightning; an unarmed black mans is a few times more. In either case, these rates are many times higher than in other affluent democracies, where violent crime rates are lower, the citizenry is less armed, and police if armed at all are less trigger-happy.

Whether black or white, the victims of police shootings have a lot in common: many were experiencing psychotic episodes either due to chronic mental illness or drug use when the police were called. Many had prior arrest records or were otherwise previously known to the police. Whether black, white, or brown, the victims of police shootings are disproportionately sub-proletarian or lower working-class.

Exceptions occur the white middle-class teen shot in the back while fleeing from the police; the black child spotted in the park and hastily shot with what turned out to be a toy gun but most victims appear to have lived lives of extreme precarity, variously marked by racial discrimination, poverty, mental illness, and social abandonment.

Thus far I have described the rise of the carceral state in largely negative terms: what happened in the late 1960s was not only a war on drugs nor a new system of racial domination but something wider. A succession of changing motives and rationales supported the punitive turn, and the urge to punish came from an array of sectors and institutions. The time has come to sum up my analysis in more positive terms.

First, beginning in the 1970s, all social institutions turned toward detection, capture, and sanction. A broad-spectrum cultural shift away from values of forbearance, forgiveness, and redemption animated this transformation. The punitive turn was, first and foremost, a cultural turn.

Many observers today look skeptically at cultural explanations of this sort, which claim that people do x because they believe y. From structuralism to poststructuralism and beyond, a cavalcade of theoretical currents promoted an abstract idea of culture, severing it from history and political economy. In highlighting the cultural element in these developments, however, I do not mean to suggest that culture always sets the course of historical events, only that it sometimes does a point that Friedrich Engels was also keen to make.

Further, I do not assert that once the desire to punish got into peoples heads, it spread uniformly throughout society, nor would I argue that this cultural shift sprang into being ex nihilo.

At its inception, the punitive turn found fertile ground in preexisting institutions of race and class. As it developed, political actors and moral entrepreneurs reworked received ideas, some of them older than the republic, some of them torn from the headlines. The United States long history of capitalism and various forms of power all participated in the carceral states development.

Second, federal legislation played a key role in institutionalizing and hardening this cultural change. This was not merely a question of mechanizing the law with mandatory minimum sentences or three strikes provisions but of automating a system of interconnecting institutions.

The nucleus of this development was already present in the 1968 Safe Streets Act, aimed at expanding and modernizing policing, and in the LEAA, designed to increase prosecution and conviction rates. From this start, police forces grew, became more proactive, and made more arrests.

Securing greater cooperation from more victims, prosecutors brought more cases to court often with higher charges. Responding to the shifting mood, judges sentenced more defendants. Across four decades, legislators passed laws that criminalized more activities, increased sentences, and expressly barred compromise, early release, consideration of mitigating circumstances, and so on. Put simply, the law became more punitive. Such mechanisms could persist under changing conditions because a vast institutional network spanning the state and civil society actively produced fresh rationales for them.

The punitive turn was consolidated into a punitive avalanche.

The result was a transformed system, in which prison, parole, and so on were stripped of their disciplinary aims (reeducation, rehabilitation, reintegration) and reoriented toward strictly punitive goals (detection, apprehension, incapacitation). Horkheimer and Adorno would have called this instrumental rationality: a nightmare version of bureaucracy that suspends critical reasoning and tries to establish the most efficient means to achieve an irrational end.

The present moment seems propitious for change. Violent crime rates have fallen to levels not seen since the early 1960s, reducing public pressure for harsh laws and tough sentences. Upbeat journalists periodically write stories covering more rational approaches to crime and punishment in even conservative states. The criminal justice systems racial disparities have become a point of national embarrassment, and, as early as 2007, the United States Sentencing Commission began retroactively intervening to reduce the sentences of some federal inmates convicted on crack-cocaine charges. Polls suggest that Americans across the political spectrum largely support reducing the number of people in prison.

Improvements have moved slowly, however. The prison population fell from a peak of 2.3 million in 2008 to 2.1 million today, but more substantial declines do not appear to be forthcoming. Thanks to our federal system, substantially reforming the carceral regime will prove difficult: it will demand revising thousands of laws and practices at mostly local levels.

Meanwhile, the Left is divided over how to imagine and advocate for our goals. Prison abolitionism has gathered steam among some activists, although it shows little sign of winning over the wider public. With evangelical zeal, abolitionists insist that we must choose between abolition and reform, while discounting reform as a viable option. The history of the prison system, they say, is a history of reform and look where that has gotten us.

I have tried to show here whats wrong with this argument. It is remarkably innocent of history. In fact, the history of reform was interrupted some time around 1973 and what we have had instead for the past five decades is a history of counter-reform. The unconscionable conditions we see today are not inevitable byproducts of the prison; they are the results of the punitive turn.

Abolitionists base their approach on an analogy between the prison system and chattel slavery. This is a strained analogy at best, and it only appears convincing in light of the oversized and unusually cruel American penal system. Slavery was an institution for the extraction of unfree labor over a persons (and his or her childrens) lifetime; the prison is an institution that imposes unfreedom for a set period of time as punishment for serious infractions historically with the express bargain that at least theoretically the lawbreaker was to be improved and reintegrated into society. The better analogy might be with other disciplinary institutions, which also to varying degrees curb freedoms in the name of personal and social good: the school, the hospital, the psychiatric institution.

Abolitionists usually respond to the obvious criticism but every country has prisons by citing Angela Daviss polemical work, Are Prisons Obsolete? Slavery, too, was once universal, they point out; it required the abolitionists utopian vision to put an end to that unjust institution.

But this, too, misstates history. By the time American abolitionism got fully underway in the 1830s, much of Europe and parts of Latin American had already partially or wholly abolished slavery. The Haitian Revolution had dealt the institution a major blow, and slavery was imploding in parts of the Caribbean. A world without slavery was scarcely unthinkable. The same cannot be said of prisons: all signs suggest that the public and not only in the United States believes that prisons are legitimate.

Abolitionist arguments usually gesture at restorative justice, imagining that some sorts of community institutions will oversee non-penal forms of restitution. But here, we are very far out on a limb. Such models might more or less work in small-scale, face-to-face indigenous or religious communities. But, in modern cities, it is implausible to think that families, kinship networks, neighborhood organizations, and the like can adjudicate reconciliation in a fair, consistent manner.

In short, abolitionism promises a heaven-on-earth that will never come to pass. What we really need to do is fight for measures that have already proven humane, effective, and consistent with social and criminal justice.

Consider Finland. In the 1950s, it had high crime rates and a punitive penal system with high incarceration rates and terrible prison conditions. In these regards Finland then was much like the United States today. After decades of humanitarian and social-democratic reforms, the country now has less than one-tenth the rate of incarceration as the United States. Its prisons resemble dormitories with high-quality health care, counseling services, and educational opportunities. Not coincidentally, its prison system does not breed anger, resentment, and recidivism.

Finlands system aligns with that of other Nordic and Northern European nations, all of whom remained continuously on the path of reform. There, small-scale penal institutions are insulated from public opinion, with its periodic rages against lawbreakers, and prioritize genuine criminological expertise. They have expressly rehabilitative aims, working not only to punish but also to repair the person and restore him to society. Penalties top out at around twenty years, consistent with the finding that longer sentences have neither a rehabilitative nor a deterring effect. Many Scandinavian prisons have no walls and allow prisoners to leave during the day for jobs or shopping. Bedrooms have windows, not bars. Kitchens and common areas resemble Ikea displays.

Rather than call for the complete abolition of prisons a policy unlikely to win broad public support the American left should fight to introduce these conditions into our penal system. We should strive not for pie-in-the-sky imaginings but for working models already achieved in Scandinavian and other social democracies. We should demand dramatically better prison conditions, the release of nonviolent first offenders under other forms of supervision, discretionary parole for violent offenders who provide evidence of rehabilitation, decriminalization of simple drug possession, and a broad revision of sentencing laws. Such demands would attract support from a number of prominent social movements, creating a strong base from which we can begin to build a stronger, universal safety net.

Institutions become obsolete only when more effective and more progressive alternatives become available. The poorhouse disappeared when its functions were replaced by social security, public assistance, health care clinics, and mental and psychiatric hospitals. We see no such emergent institutions on the horizon today that might render prisons a thing of the past. What we see instead are examples of criminal justice systems that have continued reforming, modulating, humanizing, shrinking, and decentralizing the functions of the prison. Creating just such a correctional system, based on genuinely rehabilitative goals consistent with our view of social justice, should be a main task of socialists today.

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How to End Mass Incarceration – Jacobin – Jacobin magazine

Brian Sloan: An ageing workforce should not be viewed as a challenge, but as an opportunity – The Scotsman

Many people in their forties will have been disappointed by the news that they are going to have to work longer before they can claim their state pension.

The UK Government has announced that 2037, not 2044, will be the year when the state pension age rises to 68. Age Scotland does not agree that this particular move was necessary, with forecasts for increased life expectancy stalling. However it has been clear for many years that as we live longer, with an ageing population and the abolition of the default retirement age, very many of us are going to have to remain in employment longer.

Age Scotland believes strongly that an ageing workforce should not be viewed simply as a challenge, but as an opportunity for our economy and our society.

The economic imperative is clear. Population projections suggest that the number of people above state pension age in Scotland may increase by nearly 30 per cent by 2040, but the working age population by only only per cent.

Already older workers are playing a bigger role in services and businesses across Scotland. More than 90,000 people over 65 are now in employment in Scotland, double the number in 2004. It is also important to recognise that the great majority of these people are not in work out of necessity, but because they want to be. 13 per cent say they do remain in work to pay the bills: that is a concern, and a reason why Age Scotland continues to campaign against pensioner poverty. But more than half of workers over 65 in Scotland say they are not ready to stop working yet.

Reasons given include; wanting to continue to use skills, to boost income, and to stay healthy and active. So the reasons for older people staying in work are far more positive than negative. For those who worry that older people continuing in work will reduce opportunities for younger people, studies dont bear this out. Dave Watson of Unison has written in The Scotsman to highlight research that shows if unemployed older workers returned to the workplace it would add 88 billion to the UKs economy.

The opportunities are tremendous, but there is a lot more to do if we are to enable more people to work longer. Across the UK there are one million people aged 50 to 64 who would like to be in work but are not. Most have left due to poor health, redundancy, or caring responsibilities. There is a rapid fall in employment rates over the age of 50. This means that more employers need to be proactive in providing better working environments for older people, tackling ageism and promoting models of working which support people with caring responsibilities and help workers keep well.

Age Scotland works with employers across the country to ensure more of our workplaces are age-friendly. The charity has developed Planning For Your Future workshops to help workers decide when and how they will make the transition to retirement, and what they can do now to ensure that they can enjoy retirement. These workshops can also be beneficial for employers by opening conversations with employees that enable more informed future workforce planning. Age Scotland also offers employers training on meeting the needs of an ageing workforce. We work with staff to promote age inclusive workplaces, exploring behaviours and opening minds so we challenge stereotypes, prejudice and stigma about older people. Age Scotlands Allied Health Professionals promote healthy active ageing within workplaces, encouraging routines and cultures which help employees keep fit, well and prevent a range of illnesses and conditions. Additionally, with dementia increasingly affecting employers as the workforce ages, we provide dementia aware training for employers and employees.

The Scottish Government has made clear that it wishes to do more to create age-friendly workplaces and help those older people who want to stay in work to do so. We look forward to working with government on this important agenda, and to continuing to work with employers across the country to provide better support for older workers. This is not only good for their staff, but great for their businesses as well as they draw on the skills and commitment of their older employees. If you want to find out how we support employers to take this important work forward you can find out more on http://www.nowandnext.scot

Brian Sloan, Managing Director of Age Scotland

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Brian Sloan: An ageing workforce should not be viewed as a challenge, but as an opportunity – The Scotsman

‘Why we shouldn’t mourn the loss of controlled assessment this GCSE results day’ – TES News

There are many and varied examples of the assessment jargon that litters education. The system assesses so oftenthat conjuring new names for the manner and form of it is an art, requiring not only teachers but also parents and students to use them ad nauseum.

One such is controlled assessment: that contribution to the final qualification outcome made not by an examination, but by some form of project work, completed under the supervision of the class teacher, who also then marks it.

Controlled assessment is so named because it is not coursework, which could be taken home. Instead, it must be done in class time.

The latitude given to teachers in controlled assessment issubstantialand the opportunities to nudge the results of some, most or indeed all of the children in the desired direction is ever-present. Perhaps through sharing the specific question too early, or inappropriately editing a students work.

Even if an individual teacher has the moral fibre to resist that temptation, senior management might take a different viewand subtly or perhaps bluntly highlight ways in which the constraints of the rubric can be pushed against and, in some cases, pushed through.

It is a hard truth to acknowledge that cheating or the hardly better euphemism gaming is a problem in teaching. In 2016there were 388 penalties for all forms of cheating, including controlled assessment infractions, issued to school and college staff, an increase from 262 in 2015 and 119 in 2014.

The Tesforums are filled with people who suspect itand several who are open that they have seen it happening in their own school and do not know what to do about it. Innocent teachers and students were the victims of this behaviour.

In 2010, the coalition government more-or-less resolved this problem for teachers by announcing the almost totalabolition of controlled assessment from the reformed GCSEs. This week, the results of the first of those GCSEs English language, English literature and mathematics will be published.

Given that both the content and the construction of the exams is deliberately designed to make them harder, it is likely schools will see some decline in the quality of their results.

Students should be spared problems arising from this by the decision to align the new Grade 4 with the bottom of the old C-grade, so much the same number as got passing grades last year will get them this year, too. Schools, who are to be judged on the number of Grade 5 students receive, may feel more aggrieved.

Almost certainly, some will seek to blame the abolition of controlled assessment in English as one of the reasons for the changes in outcomes. They will probably be right, because controlled assessment is habitually marked more positively than terminal examinations, but no teacher should mourn the loss of controlled assessment.

As well as being enormous amounts of work to teach, invigilate and mark, it presented an unpleasant ethical challenge to all teachers and left a whiff of immorality around our profession that we are well rid of.

John Blake is head of education and social reform at the think-tank Policy Exchange, before which he was a state-school history teacher for 10 years.

Keep up to date with all the latest GCSE news, views and analysis on ourGCSE hub.

Find outwhat colleagues are chatting about in your discipline by visiting the subject based forums in the Tes Community or you can join in the conversation about GCSE results day.

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‘Why we shouldn’t mourn the loss of controlled assessment this GCSE results day’ – TES News

On the Plantations: The Abolition of Slavery Project

When enslaved Africans arrived in the Americas, they were often alone, separated from their family and community, unable to communicate with those around them. The following descriptionis from’The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano’:

“When we arrived in Barbados (in the West Indies) many merchants and planters came on board and examined us. We were then taken to the merchant’s yard, where we were all pent up together like sheep in a fold. On a signal the buyers rushed forward and chose those slaves they liked best.”

On arrival, the Africans were prepared for sale like animals. They were washed and shaved: sometimes their skins were oiled to make them appear healthy and increase their sale price.

Depending on where they had arrived, the enslaved Africans were sold through agents by public auction or by a scramble’, in which buyers simply grabbed whomever they wanted. Sales often involved measuring, grading and intrusive physical examination.

Sold, branded and issued with a new name, the enslaved Africans were separated and stripped of their identity. In a deliberate process, meant to break their will power and make them totally passive and subservient, the enslaved Africans were seasoned.’ This means that, for a period of two to three years, they were trained to endure their work and conditions – obey or receive the lash. It was mental and physical torture.

Life expectancywas short, on many plantations only 7-9 years. The high slave replacement figures were one piece of evidence used by the abolitionist, Anthony Benezet, to counter arguments that enslaved peoplebenefitted from removal from Africa.

Other descriptions of the arrival and sale of enslaved people: Captain Stedman describes the condition of enslaved people leaving a slave ship Dr Cullen describes the arrival of the enslaved people in the West Indies Dr Alexander Falconbridge describes a sale, 1778Henry Lauren describes a sale, 1786

What was life like for the enslaved person?

Itwas a life of endless labour.They worked up to 18 hours a day, sometimes longer at busy periods such as harvest. There were no weekends or rest days.

The dominant experience for most Africans was work on the sugar plantations. In Jamaica, for example, 60% worked on the sugarplantations and, by the early 19th century, 90% of enslaved Africans in Nevis, Montserrat and Tobago toiled on sugar slave estates.

The major secondary crop was coffee, which employed sizable numbers on Jamaica, Dominica, St Vincent, Grenada, St Lucia, Trinidad and Demerara. Coffee plantations tended to be smaller than sugar estates and, because of their highland locations, were more isolated.

A few colonies grew no sugar. On Belize most enslaved Africans were woodcutters; on the Cayman Islands, Anguilla and Barbuda, a majority of slaves lived on small mixed agricultural holdings; on the Bahamas, cotton cultivation was important for some decades.Even on a sugar-dominated island like Barbados, about one in ten slaves produced cotton, ginger and aloe. Livestock ranching was important on Jamaica, where specialised pens emerged.

By the 1760s, on mainland North American plantations, half of enslaved African people were occupied in cultivating tobacco, rice and indigo.

Children under the age of six, a few elderly people and some people with physical disabilities were the only people exempt from labour.

Individuals were allocated jobs according to gender, age, colour, strength and birthplace. Men dominated skilled trades and women generally came to dominate field gangs. Age determined when enslaved people entered the work force, when they progressed from one gang to another, when field hands became drivers and when field hands were retired as watchmen. The offspring of planters and enslaved African women were often allocated domestic work or, in the case of men, to skilled trades.

Children were sent to work doing whatever tasks they were physically able. This could include cleaning, water carrying, stone picking and collecting livestock feed.In addition to their work in the fields, women were used to carry outthe duties of servants,child minders and seamstresses. Women could be separated from their children and sold to different ‘owners’ at any time.

Mary Prince, in her autobiography,described her experience ofbeing enslaved andseparated from her mother. To hear an extract from the autobiography.

A description of the life of an enslaved plantation workerwas described by Renny in 1807. To here the description.

How did the plantation owners control the enslaved people?

The plantation owners may have controlled the work and physical well being of enslaved people, but they could never control their minds. The enslaved people resisted at every opportunity and in many different ways – see the resistance section.

There was always the constant threat of uprising and keeping thoseenslaved under controlwas a priority of all plantation owners. The laws created to control enslaved populations were severe andillustrated the tensions that existed. The laws passed by the Islands’ governing Assemblies are often referred to as the Black Codes.’

Any enslaved personfound guilty of committing or plotting serious offences, such as violence against the plantation owner or destruction of property, was put to death. Beatings and whippings were a common punishment, as well as the use of neck collars or leg irons for less serious offences, such as failure to work hard enough or insubordination, which covered many things.

Thomas Clarkson described the life of an enslaved person in a speech to a gathering at Ipswich. To hear an extract of this speech.

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On the Plantations: The Abolition of Slavery Project

Abolition and replacement of the 457 visa Government …

On 18 April 2017, the Government announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary SkillShortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.

The TSS visa programme will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years and will support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers.

This new visa is part of the Governments significant reform package to strengthen the integrity and quality of Australias temporary and permanent employer sponsored skilled migration programmes.

Key reforms include:

The implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and will be completed in March 2018.

Further information on reforms is available:

Further information on different aspects of the reforms will be published in due course.

1 Set at $53,900 as at 12 April 2016.

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Abolition and replacement of the 457 visa Government …

How to End Mass Incarceration – Jacobin – Jacobin magazine

The United States has not always been the worlds leading jailer, the only affluent democracy to make incapacitation its criminal justice systems goal. Once upon a time, it fashioned itself as the very model of what Michel Foucault called the disciplinary society. That is, it took an enlightened approach to punishment, progressively tethering it to rehabilitative ideals. Today, it is a carceral state, plain and simple. It posts the highest incarceration rate in the world as well as the highest violent crime rate among high-income countries.

Politicians, reporters, and activists from across the political spectrum have analyzed the ongoing crisis of mass incarceration. Their accounts sometimes depict our current plight as an expression of puritanism, as an extension of slavery or Jim Crow, or as an exigency of capitalism. But these approaches fail to address the question that ought to be foremost in front of us: what was the nature of the punitive turn that pushed the US off the path of reform and turned its correctional system into a rogue institution?

While the state-sanctioned brutality that now marks the American criminal justice system has motivated many activists to call for the complete abolition of prisons, we must begin with a clearer understanding of the complex institutional shifts that created and reproduce the phenomenon of mass incarceration. Only then will we be able to see a clear path out of the current impasse.

The core features of Foucaults account of crime, punishment, and social control are well known, although they have not always been well understood. In the disciplinary society he describes, authorities progressively withdraw punishment from public view. And as discipline becomes increasingly private, it shifts its focus from criminals bodies to their minds. Increasingly, punishment is calculated to rehabilitate it is not meant to damage or destroy.

Foucault highlighted how these disciplinary reforms created new and more effective tactics for consolidating power, especially as they spread to non-judicial institutions, like schools, hospitals, factories, and offices. Unlike its predecessor, sovereign power, which subtracts giving kings the right to seize property, to damage or take lives disciplinary power corrects. The Enlightenments gentle punishments would convince the miscreant to mend his crooked ways, not beat the bad behavior out of him.

An American preference for rehabilitative discipline over harsh punishment has deep roots. Resonant with the image of the country as a nation of laws, American justice promised to punish lawbreakers only as much as was necessary to straighten them out. The Bill of Rights prohibited torture, and the Quaker reformers who founded early American penitentiaries treated them as utopian experiments in discipline, purgatories where penitents would suffer and introspect until they found salvation.

No doubt time and circumstance created different opinions about how much suffering genuine personal reformation required, but American practices generally aligned with rising standards of decency. As James Q. Whitman notes, Europeans once viewed the US prison system as a model of enlightened practices. Foreign governments sent delegations on tours of American penitentiaries, and Alexis de Tocqueville extolled the mildness of American punishment.

Of course, we can find exceptions. Southern penal systems, racialized after the Civil War under the convict-lease system, didnt even pretend to have rehabilitative aims. They existed to control the black population and supply cheap labor for agriculture and industry. No doubt, too, the spectacles of punishment associated with popular colonial justice the pillory, the stockade, the scarlet letter cast long shadows across American history.

But, even in the face of these contradictions, the US criminal justice system seemed to support a grand narrative of progressive history: the arc of history bends toward justice, and the slave drivers lash and the lynch mobs noose disappeared as the nation extended more rights and more freedoms to more people. Reasoned law inexorably overcomes communal violence and brute domination.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr thus distinguishes the true essence of the United States from its various manifestations of racism and intolerance, glossing history as the perpetual struggle of Americans to fulfill their deepest values in an enigmatic world.

As recently as fifty-odd years ago, Americans could still believe this story. Here, as in other North Atlantic countries, modern penal models that stress rehabilitation, reform, and welfare had become the prevailing approaches. At the peak of this trend, Great Society programs attempted to address crimes socioeconomic causes: poverty, institutional racism, alienation.

Indeed, as a result of the legal reforms of the 1960s, the American prison population was shrinking, and the state was developing alternatives to incarceration: kinder, gentler institutions that focused on supervision, reeducation, and rehabilitation. To many observers, the prison system actually seemed to be reforming itself out of existence. Leo Bersanis review of Foucaults Discipline and Punish began with the (now astonishing) sentence The era of prisons may be nearly over.

Nothing in Foucaults analysis or anyone elses, as David Garland has remarked could have predicted what followed: a sudden punitive turn designed to incapacitate prisoners rather than rehabilitate them. The practice of locking people up for long periods of time became the criminal justice systems organizing principle, and prisons turned into a reservation system, a quarantine zone where purportedly dangerous individuals are segregated in the name of public safety. The resulting system of mass incarceration, Garland writes, resembles

nothing so much as the Soviet gulag a string of work camps and prisons strung across a vast country, housing [more than] two million people most of whom are drawn from classes and racial groups that have become politically and economically problematic. Like the pre-modern sanctions of transportation or banishment, the prison now functions as a form of exile.

At the peak of this mania, one in every ninety-nine adults was behind bars. Since 2008, these numbers have leveled off and even posted modest declines, but the basic contours remain intact. The United States ranks first in imprisonment among significant nations, whether measured in terms of incarceration rates which remains five to ten times higher than those of other developed democracies or in terms of the absolute number of people in prison.

Hyper-policing helped make hyper-punishment possible. By the mid-2000s, police were arresting a staggering fourteen million Americans each year, excluding traffic violations up from a little more than three million in 1960. That is, the annual arrest rate as a percentage of the population nearly tripled, from 1.6 percent in 1960 to 4.5 percent in 2009. Today, almost one-third of the adult population has an arrest record.

At prevailing rates of incarceration, one in every fifteen Americans will serve time in a prison. For men the rate is more than one in nine. For African American men, the expected lifetime rate runs even higher: roughly one in three.

These figures have no precedent in the United States: not under Puritanism, not even under Jim Crow. While some observers point to significant declines in crime statistics after 1994 as evidence of these policies success, informed estimates show that locking up millions of people for long periods contributed to only as much as 27 percent and as little as 10 percent of the overall reduction in crime.

Eighth Amendment prohibitions notwithstanding, conditions in Americas crowded prisons have sunk to the level of torture. Indeed, the Supreme Courts Brown v. Plata decision affirmed that overpopulation itself constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, creating unsafe and unsanitary conditions, depriving prisoners of basic sustenance, including adequate medical care. The court found that mass incarceration is incompatible with the concept of human dignity.

In this context, structural abuses invariably flourish. Reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch catalog various forms of sanctioned and unsanctioned human rights abuses. These include beatings and chokings, extended solitary confinement in maximum security and so-called supermax prisons, the mistreatment of juvenile and mentally ill detainees, and the inhumane use of restraints, electrical devices, and attack dogs.

Modern prisons have become places of irredeemable harm and trauma. J. C. Oleson surveys these dehumanizing warehouse prisons, where guards have overseen systems of sexual slavery or orchestrated gladiator-style fights between inmates.

Sally Mann Romano describes shocking brutality in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of Californias Pelican Bay State Prison, once touted as a model supermax prison:

It was in this unit that Vaughn Dortch, a prisoner with a life-long history of mental problems, was confined after a conviction for grand theft. There, the stark conditions of isolation caused his mental condition to dramatically deteriorate, to the point that he smeared himself repeatedly with feces and urine. Prison officials took Vaughn to the infirmary to bathe him and asked a medical technician, Irven McMillan, if he wanted a part of this bath. McMillan responded that he would take some of the brush end, referring to a hard bristle brush which is wrapped in a towel and used to clean an inmate. McMillan asked a supervisor for help, but she refused. Ultimately, six guards wearing rubber gloves held Vaughn, with his hands cuffed behind his back, in a tub of scalding water. His attorney later estimated the temperature to be about 125 degrees. McMillan proceeded with the bath while one officer pushed down on Vaughns shoulder and held his arms in place. After about fifteen minutes, when Vaughn was finally allowed to stand, his skin peeled off in sheets, hanging in large clumps around his legs. Nurse Barbara Kuroda later testified without rebuttal that she heard a guard say about the black inmate that it looks like were going to have a white boy before this is through his skin is so dirty and so rotten, its all fallen off. Vaughn received no anesthetic for more than forty-five minutes, eventually collapsed from weakness, and was taken to the emergency room. There he went into shock and almost died.

This scene recalls the opening moments of Discipline and Punish, in which Foucault graphically recounts the slow destruction of Robert-Franois Damienss living body in 1757. Of course, todays torture doesnt appear as a spectacle, staged for public edification. Nor does it resemble the touch of pain strategically administered as bitter medicine to cure the lawbreaker of his sickness a concept of corporeal punishment that goes back to Plato. In those cases, pain served a greater social purpose.

In contrast, a set of invisible and unsanctioned but nonetheless systematic practices, hidden away in the most secret parts of the penal system, has allowed brutality to flourish. Away from public scrutiny, it thrives on retributions personalized and sadistic logic, all that remains of the criminal justice systems moral purpose after rehabilitation disappeared.

Oleson summarizes the logic of the present system: [t]he prison no longer attempts to make angels of men. In modern prisons, a transformation of an entirely different kind is taking place: men are becoming animals. We should not be surprised that the modern penal system a pressure cooker of idle men packed into cramped space devolves into overt torture, for this prison was already an institution in which awful things regularly happen. Nor should we be surprised that these zealous punishments dehumanize the punishers no less than the punished.

The transition from a disciplinary to a punitive penal system happened very quickly, although its implications would go unnoticed for a long time. Arguably, we still dont fully understand the nature of this cultural shift, which exceeds the penal system and appears in a number of the institutions of everyday life. But I get ahead of myself.

The punitive turn began in the turmoil of the 1960s, a time of rapidly rising crime rates and urban disorder. In 1968, with US cities in flames and white backlash gaining momentum, congress overwhelmingly passed and Lyndon Johnson reluctantly signed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. As Jonathan Simon has suggested, the act became something like a blueprint for subsequent crime-control lawmaking.

Shaped by a conservative coalition of Western Republicans and Southern Democrats, the legislation invested heavily in local law enforcement, asserted rules for police interrogations designed to countermand the liberal Warren courts decisions, including Miranda, allowed wiretapping without court approval, and, in a successful bid to secure liberal support, included modest gun control provisions.

Although the legislation did little to increase criminal penalties, it reversed the logic of earlier Great Society programs; instead of providing direct investment, the acts block grants ceded control to local agencies, often controlled by conservative governors. Most importantly, the act established the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), an independent branch of the Justice Department. Blaming low conviction rates on a lack of cooperation from victims and witnesses, the LEAA launched demonstration projects aimed at recruiting citizens into the war on crime.

Tough talk about law and order articulated the strange new angers, anxieties, and resentments racking the nation in the 1960s, as Rick Perlstein has shown, and, by 1972, Richard Nixon had consolidated a new governing coalition that still dominates American politics. Nixons anti-crime narrative appealed to the traditional Republican bases rural and small-town values and incorporated conservative Southern Democrats, who viewed the civil rights movement as lawless and disorderly. It also attracted Northern hardhat conservatives and white ethnic voters alarmed at escalating crime, urban riots, and campus unrest. In short, the nascent war on crime firmed up white backlash and gave durable political form to a conservative counter-counterculture.

But race reactionaries were not the only group spreading tough law-and-order rhetoric. Vanessa Barker has described how African American activists, representing the communities hardest hit by surging crime rates, also agitated for harsher penalties for muggers, drug dealers, and first-degree murderers.

In 1973, incarceration rates began an unprecedented thirty-five-year climb, and political tides began to turn even in liberal states. That year, New York passed the most draconian drug legislation in the country. Under the Rockefeller Drug Laws, the minimum penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, or heroin was fifteen years to life. (It took until 2009 for New York to retire much of what remained of these laws.)

Ironically, the Left was helping to prepare the way for a decisive turn to the Right. Leftist activists from the civil rights, black power, and antiwar movements were leveling heavy criticism against the criminal justice system, and rightly so. Patterns of police brutality had been readily discernible triggers of urban unrest and race riots in the late 1960s, and minorities were overrepresented in the prison population (although not as much as today). Summing up New Left critiques, the American Friends Service Committees 1971 report, Struggle for Justice, blasted the US prison system not only for repressing youth, the poor, and minorities but also for paternalistically emphasizing individual rehabilitation. Rehabilitate the system, not the individual, the report urged but the point got lost in the rancorous debates that followed. As David Garland carefully shows, the ensuing nothing works consensus among progressive scholars and experts discouraged prison reform and ultimately lent weight to the arguments of conservatives, whose approach to crime has always been a simple one: Punish the bad man. Put lawbreakers behind bars and keep them there.

In 1974, Robert Martinsons influential article What Works? marked a definitive turning point. Examining rehabilitative penal systems efficacy, Martinson articulated the emerging consensus nothing works, and rehabilitation was a hopelessly misconceived goal.

Tapping into the zeitgeist, Hollywood released Death Wish that same year, followed by a host of other vigilante revenge films. Exploitation movies enlisted a familiar Victorian spectacle sexual outrages against girls and women in the service of right-wing populism. Their plotlines invariably connected liberals, civil libertarians, and high-minded elites with the criminals who tormented the ordinary citizen. Notably, however, such films carefully muted the racial backlash that had inaugurated the punitive turn: they depicted the vicious criminal as white, allowing audiences to enjoy the visceral thrill of vengeance without troubling their racial consciences.

Comprehensive crime-control bills came and went during the Reagan-Bush years, each more punitive than the last, and new social movements emerged around the politicization of crime.

The victims rights movement played an important role in this story. The movement had started inside the liberal welfare state, and proponents originally saw aid for victims of violent crime as the other half of their attempts to rehabilitate convicts. But, as conservatives recruited victims advocacy and self-help groups into the war on crime, the movement began to pit victims rights against the rights of the accused, aligning with claims that hordes of criminals were escaping justice on legal technicalities.

By 1982, the Reagan administration was drawing this movement securely within the compass of the right, as Bruce Shapiro explained. That year, the Presidents Task Force on Victims of Crime published a report based largely on anecdotal horror stories of double victimization and official unresponsiveness. Based in part on this report, congress passed the Victims of Crime Act in 1984.

This movement focused national attention on victims at a time when violent crime rates remained stubbornly high, providing the moral underpinnings for a punitive approach to crime. It persuaded voters to identify with victims, to diminish the rights of the accused, and to accept excessive policing. It aggressively lobbied for the harsher laws, enhanced penalties, and court procedures that put the prison system on steroids.

But liberal rationales also helped the punitive turn put down institutional roots. The victims rights movement had adopted feminist rhetoric around rape and domestic violence. For example, it claimed that survivors are victimized a second time by their unsatisfying experiences with the police and court system. During the same period, mainstream white feminists came to view rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence through a law-and-order lens and many started demanding harsh criminal penalties. This collusion between conservative victims rights advocates and white feminists undermined the historic liberal commitment to enlightened humanitarianism and progressive reform, especially as these related to crime and punishment.

Although no one could have known it at the time, the early 1990s represented a high-water mark in the crime wave that had begun in the early 1960s. In 1991, homicide rates crested at 9.8 per 100,000, matching the rate recorded in 1974 and almost matching the record rate of 10.2 per 100,000 set in 1980. After 1993, the thirty-year crime wave began to recede, but the punitive turn persisted.

In 1994, Democrats aggressively moved to take back the crime issue from Republicans, and a Democratically controlled congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Like the 1968 act, this 1994 legislation pumped a great deal of federal funding into local law enforcement, funding 100,000 new police officers, new prison construction, and new prevention programs in poor neighborhoods. The new legislation also included an assault weapon ban.

Unlike the 1968 act, however, the 1994 version increased penalties for hate crimes, sex crimes, violence against women, and gang-related crimes. It required states to create sex-offender registries and prodded them to adopt truth in sentencing laws that would entail longer prison sentences. It also dramatically expanded the federal death penalty and eliminated support for inmate education programs.

The 1994 act completely reversed Great Society penal welfarism, consolidating the punitive approach, which Democrats, liberals, and some progressive advocacy groups now embraced. Indeed, lawmakers drafted many of the acts sweeping provisions with liberal interest groups in mind.

We have now lived through more than fifty years of this punitive turn. Its resilience resists simple explanations. Originally a conservative phenomenon, it condensed fears over rising crime rates with the political reaction to the upheavals of the 1960s. In its middle period, liberal aims and rhetoric helped spread the logic of incapacitation, enshrining the victim as the subject of governance and treating the offender like toxic waste to be disposed of or contained. Sensational journalism contributed to this shift, honing the publics focus on the victim, stoking panic and outrage.

Successive waves of draconian legislation targeted outsized monsters: drug dealers, repeat offenders, gang members, sexual predators, terrorists and their sympathizers. Americas zeal for punishment has been bolstered not by one or two causes but by a variety of changing factors. Today, perhaps, it persists as much out of institutional inertia as anything else.

If my thumbnail history is accurate, then we must recognize many of the prevailing critiques of American punishment today as either erroneous or partial and inadequate.

For example, we sometimes see scholarly work that treats mass incarceration as an instance of Foucaults theorized disciplinary system. It would be difficult to imagine a more confused approach. No doubt, todays system has retained many of the disciplinary regimes features: the existence of an institution called the prison; forms of power that penetrate even the smallest details of everyday life; the production of a carceral archipelago that exports surveillance from the penal institution to the entire social body. But all this tells us is that institutions communicate with each other: such examples of connectivity do not belong to the disciplinary mode of power alone.

In fact, the current regime of power represents a radical break with the disciplinary regimes logic and aims: by the early 1970s, the United States was renouncing the corrective focus of penal welfarism, and it now deploys supplementary surveillance beyond the walls of the prison not to rehabilitate offenders or regulate conduct but to catch lawbreakers and feed more and more people into the prison system.

Scholars who study the penal system have developed a large body of work connecting mass incarceration to neoliberal economic policies of deregulation and privatization. Some posit a neoliberal cause and a punitive effect, while others argue that deregulation and privatization exacerbated social inequalities and therefore fostered a fear of crime, ultimately producing more surveillance, policing, and incarceration.

Bernard Harcourt provides a broader view, meticulously examining how classical liberal and neoliberal theories approach policing and punishment as market functions and regulators. In my view, however, he never quite demonstrates a strong connection between such models and present-day lawmaking, penalties, and practices.

No doubt, these analyses express an elemental truth about capitalism and coercion. The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist, as an apologist for both once put it. But the language that describes societys humdrum workings cannot explain systemic changes or historic shifts. Nor should we assume that whatever intensifies capitalism will also intensify coercive tactics. After all, neoliberalism is a global phenomenon, but the punitive state remains distinctly American, at least among developed democracies.

In any case, arguments that link neoliberalism and mass incarceration do not match the actual historical trajectory or the varied political currents in play. The punitive turn, as I have sketched it, began in the mid-to-late 1960s, but neoliberal policies did not begin gaining ascendency until the late 1970s.

Certainly, mass incarceration has had large economic effects. Bruce Western and Katherine Beckett estimated that, during the 1990s, Americas zeal for incarceration shaved two percentage points off unemployment figures. Roughly 4 percent of the civilian labor force either works for the penal system or works to put people in prison. If one includes private security positions and workers who monitor or guard other laborers, the results are striking: in an increasingly garrisonized economy, one out of every four or five American laborers is employed in what Samuel Bowles and Arjun Jayadev call guard labor.

No doubt, the American variant of neoliberalism used these facts to help establish itself. Indeed, one might conclude that the punitive turn, with its disdain for rule-breakers, losers, and outcasts, paved the way for the neoliberal turn, with its love of the market.

Another common line of criticism begins by recognizing the role liberals have played in constructing the punitive state. This scholarship conveys essential truths, but it too often overcorrects the prevailing storyline and erases valuable points of reference.

Naomi Murakawas book, The First Civil Right, is a case in point. The author scrutinizes New Deal timidity in the face of racial violence and calls attention to prominent Democrats and liberals who helped build the prison state by pursuing color-blind laws and modern police forces. In telling this important story, however, Murakawa blurs the important distinction between the Great Society approach to law enforcement and the punitive turn that followed.

Had the Democratic Party stayed its fundamentally social-democratic course, had it kept with the penal systems reformist program, had the policies of Johnsons Attorney General Ramsey Clark remained in place, and this is no small matter had the criminal justice system continued to develop alternatives to incarceration, the United States would not have evolved into a carceral state.

It is of course possible that prison rates would still have risen with the crime rates between the 1970s and the 1990s, but they would not have exploded, and mass incarceration would have remained the stuff of dystopian fiction.

Many activists, journalists, and scholars have highlighted draconian drug penalties as a primary cause of mass incarceration. To be sure, the war on drugs played a significant role in the prison systems growth, especially during the 1980s. But it represents just one element of the larger war on crime and has been slowly winding down since the early 2000s.

Today, drug offenders represent only about 15 percent of sentenced prisoners. While this is by no means a negligible number, we need a wider perspective. Enhanced penalties for a variety of offenses drug possession and distribution, surely, but also violent crimes, repeat offenses, crimes committed with a firearm, and sex crimes have all fueled the growth of the penal system. One often-overlooked population is parole violators, who represented 26 percent of prison admissions in 2013. The fact that the parole system, devised to reduce the prison population, now enlarges it gives us important clues about the self-perpetuating nature of the system today.

Finally, sociologists, criminologists, and critical race scholars have closely scrutinized the racial disparities in arrest, prosecution, and incarceration rates. Many conclude that mass incarceration constitutes a modern regime of racial domination or a new Jim Crow.

This perspective highlights important facts. While African Americans make up only 13 percent of drug users, they account for more than a third of drug arrestees, more than half of those convicted on drug charges, and 58 percent of those ultimately sent to prison on drug charges. When convicted, a black person can expect to serve almost as much time for a drug offense as a white person would serve for a violent offense.

These statistics demonstrate how race-neutral laws can produce race-biased effects, especially when police, prosecutors, juries, and judges make racialized judgments all along the way. Needless to say, had the mania for incarceration devastated white middle- or even working-class communities as much as it has black lower- and working-class communities, it would have proved politically intolerable very quickly.

But the racial critique consistently downplays the effects of mass incarceration on non-black communities. The incarceration rate for Latinos has also risen, and the confinement and processing of undocumented immigrants has become especially harsh. And although white men are imprisoned at a substantially lower rate than either black or brown men, there are still more white men in prison, in both raw and per capita numbers, than at any time in US history.

In mid-2007, 773 of every 100,000 white males were imprisoned, roughly one-sixth the rate for black males (4,618 per 100,000) but more than three times the average rate of male confinement from the 1920s through 1972. As James Forman Jr argues, the racial critiques focus on African American imprisonment rates expressly discourages the cross-racial coalitions that will be required to dismantle mass incarceration.

In his important contribution to this debate, Forman has outlined the racial critiques main limitations. First, he argues that this analysis minimizes the historical effect of spiking crime rates on public opinion and lawmaking. By blaming only white backlash for harsher penalties, the racial critique obscures substantial levels of black support for these policies.

Second, Forman shows that the often-invoked Jim Crow system makes for a poor analogy with mass incarceration. Jim Crow was a legal caste system that took no notice of class distinctions among black people. By contrast, todays punitive system does not affect all African Americans the same way; rather, it predisposes the poorest and least educated to incarceration, and the impact of mass incarceration is concentrated in black inner-city neighborhoods. (As Bruce Western has shown, the risk of going to prison for college-educated black men actually decreased slightly between 1979 and 1999.)

Third, because of its emphasis on drug laws, the racial critique skirts the important question of violent crime. Roughly half the prisoners now in custody were convicted of violent crimes, and racial disparities among this population are even wider. [An] effective response to mass incarceration, Forman concludes, will require directly confronting the issue of violent crime and developing policy responses that can compete with the punitive approach that currently dominates American criminal policy.

We might make a similar argument about the racial critique of abusive policing, which highlights important injustices but fails to provide a comprehensive picture of the whole system. Police do kill more black than white men per capita, a disparity that only increases in the smaller subset of unarmed men killed in encounters with police. But in raw numbers cops kill almost twice as many white men, and non-blacks make up about 74 percent of the people killed by police. We cannot dismiss these numbers as collateral damage from a racialized system that targets black bodies.

Examining the profile of these unarmed men is revelatory. Statistically, an unarmed white man has a slightly smaller chance of being killed by law enforcement than he does of being killed by lightning; an unarmed black mans is a few times more. In either case, these rates are many times higher than in other affluent democracies, where violent crime rates are lower, the citizenry is less armed, and police if armed at all are less trigger-happy.

Whether black or white, the victims of police shootings have a lot in common: many were experiencing psychotic episodes either due to chronic mental illness or drug use when the police were called. Many had prior arrest records or were otherwise previously known to the police. Whether black, white, or brown, the victims of police shootings are disproportionately sub-proletarian or lower working-class.

Exceptions occur the white middle-class teen shot in the back while fleeing from the police; the black child spotted in the park and hastily shot with what turned out to be a toy gun but most victims appear to have lived lives of extreme precarity, variously marked by racial discrimination, poverty, mental illness, and social abandonment.

Thus far I have described the rise of the carceral state in largely negative terms: what happened in the late 1960s was not only a war on drugs nor a new system of racial domination but something wider. A succession of changing motives and rationales supported the punitive turn, and the urge to punish came from an array of sectors and institutions. The time has come to sum up my analysis in more positive terms.

First, beginning in the 1970s, all social institutions turned toward detection, capture, and sanction. A broad-spectrum cultural shift away from values of forbearance, forgiveness, and redemption animated this transformation. The punitive turn was, first and foremost, a cultural turn.

Many observers today look skeptically at cultural explanations of this sort, which claim that people do x because they believe y. From structuralism to poststructuralism and beyond, a cavalcade of theoretical currents promoted an abstract idea of culture, severing it from history and political economy. In highlighting the cultural element in these developments, however, I do not mean to suggest that culture always sets the course of historical events, only that it sometimes does a point that Friedrich Engels was also keen to make.

Further, I do not assert that once the desire to punish got into peoples heads, it spread uniformly throughout society, nor would I argue that this cultural shift sprang into being ex nihilo.

At its inception, the punitive turn found fertile ground in preexisting institutions of race and class. As it developed, political actors and moral entrepreneurs reworked received ideas, some of them older than the republic, some of them torn from the headlines. The United States long history of capitalism and various forms of power all participated in the carceral states development.

Second, federal legislation played a key role in institutionalizing and hardening this cultural change. This was not merely a question of mechanizing the law with mandatory minimum sentences or three strikes provisions but of automating a system of interconnecting institutions.

The nucleus of this development was already present in the 1968 Safe Streets Act, aimed at expanding and modernizing policing, and in the LEAA, designed to increase prosecution and conviction rates. From this start, police forces grew, became more proactive, and made more arrests.

Securing greater cooperation from more victims, prosecutors brought more cases to court often with higher charges. Responding to the shifting mood, judges sentenced more defendants. Across four decades, legislators passed laws that criminalized more activities, increased sentences, and expressly barred compromise, early release, consideration of mitigating circumstances, and so on. Put simply, the law became more punitive. Such mechanisms could persist under changing conditions because a vast institutional network spanning the state and civil society actively produced fresh rationales for them.

The punitive turn was consolidated into a punitive avalanche.

The result was a transformed system, in which prison, parole, and so on were stripped of their disciplinary aims (reeducation, rehabilitation, reintegration) and reoriented toward strictly punitive goals (detection, apprehension, incapacitation). Horkheimer and Adorno would have called this instrumental rationality: a nightmare version of bureaucracy that suspends critical reasoning and tries to establish the most efficient means to achieve an irrational end.

The present moment seems propitious for change. Violent crime rates have fallen to levels not seen since the early 1960s, reducing public pressure for harsh laws and tough sentences. Upbeat journalists periodically write stories covering more rational approaches to crime and punishment in even conservative states. The criminal justice systems racial disparities have become a point of national embarrassment, and, as early as 2007, the United States Sentencing Commission began retroactively intervening to reduce the sentences of some federal inmates convicted on crack-cocaine charges. Polls suggest that Americans across the political spectrum largely support reducing the number of people in prison.

Improvements have moved slowly, however. The prison population fell from a peak of 2.3 million in 2008 to 2.1 million today, but more substantial declines do not appear to be forthcoming. Thanks to our federal system, substantially reforming the carceral regime will prove difficult: it will demand revising thousands of laws and practices at mostly local levels.

Meanwhile, the Left is divided over how to imagine and advocate for our goals. Prison abolitionism has gathered steam among some activists, although it shows little sign of winning over the wider public. With evangelical zeal, abolitionists insist that we must choose between abolition and reform, while discounting reform as a viable option. The history of the prison system, they say, is a history of reform and look where that has gotten us.

I have tried to show here whats wrong with this argument. It is remarkably innocent of history. In fact, the history of reform was interrupted some time around 1973 and what we have had instead for the past five decades is a history of counter-reform. The unconscionable conditions we see today are not inevitable byproducts of the prison; they are the results of the punitive turn.

Abolitionists base their approach on an analogy between the prison system and chattel slavery. This is a strained analogy at best, and it only appears convincing in light of the oversized and unusually cruel American penal system. Slavery was an institution for the extraction of unfree labor over a persons (and his or her childrens) lifetime; the prison is an institution that imposes unfreedom for a set period of time as punishment for serious infractions historically with the express bargain that at least theoretically the lawbreaker was to be improved and reintegrated into society. The better analogy might be with other disciplinary institutions, which also to varying degrees curb freedoms in the name of personal and social good: the school, the hospital, the psychiatric institution.

Abolitionists usually respond to the obvious criticism but every country has prisons by citing Angela Daviss polemical work, Are Prisons Obsolete? Slavery, too, was once universal, they point out; it required the abolitionists utopian vision to put an end to that unjust institution.

But this, too, misstates history. By the time American abolitionism got fully underway in the 1830s, much of Europe and parts of Latin American had already partially or wholly abolished slavery. The Haitian Revolution had dealt the institution a major blow, and slavery was imploding in parts of the Caribbean. A world without slavery was scarcely unthinkable. The same cannot be said of prisons: all signs suggest that the public and not only in the United States believes that prisons are legitimate.

Abolitionist arguments usually gesture at restorative justice, imagining that some sorts of community institutions will oversee non-penal forms of restitution. But here, we are very far out on a limb. Such models might more or less work in small-scale, face-to-face indigenous or religious communities. But, in modern cities, it is implausible to think that families, kinship networks, neighborhood organizations, and the like can adjudicate reconciliation in a fair, consistent manner.

In short, abolitionism promises a heaven-on-earth that will never come to pass. What we really need to do is fight for measures that have already proven humane, effective, and consistent with social and criminal justice.

Consider Finland. In the 1950s, it had high crime rates and a punitive penal system with high incarceration rates and terrible prison conditions. In these regards Finland then was much like the United States today. After decades of humanitarian and social-democratic reforms, the country now has less than one-tenth the rate of incarceration as the United States. Its prisons resemble dormitories with high-quality health care, counseling services, and educational opportunities. Not coincidentally, its prison system does not breed anger, resentment, and recidivism.

Finlands system aligns with that of other Nordic and Northern European nations, all of whom remained continuously on the path of reform. There, small-scale penal institutions are insulated from public opinion, with its periodic rages against lawbreakers, and prioritize genuine criminological expertise. They have expressly rehabilitative aims, working not only to punish but also to repair the person and restore him to society. Penalties top out at around twenty years, consistent with the finding that longer sentences have neither a rehabilitative nor a deterring effect. Many Scandinavian prisons have no walls and allow prisoners to leave during the day for jobs or shopping. Bedrooms have windows, not bars. Kitchens and common areas resemble Ikea displays.

Rather than call for the complete abolition of prisons a policy unlikely to win broad public support the American left should fight to introduce these conditions into our penal system. We should strive not for pie-in-the-sky imaginings but for working models already achieved in Scandinavian and other social democracies. We should demand dramatically better prison conditions, the release of nonviolent first offenders under other forms of supervision, discretionary parole for violent offenders who provide evidence of rehabilitation, decriminalization of simple drug possession, and a broad revision of sentencing laws. Such demands would attract support from a number of prominent social movements, creating a strong base from which we can begin to build a stronger, universal safety net.

Institutions become obsolete only when more effective and more progressive alternatives become available. The poorhouse disappeared when its functions were replaced by social security, public assistance, health care clinics, and mental and psychiatric hospitals. We see no such emergent institutions on the horizon today that might render prisons a thing of the past. What we see instead are examples of criminal justice systems that have continued reforming, modulating, humanizing, shrinking, and decentralizing the functions of the prison. Creating just such a correctional system, based on genuinely rehabilitative goals consistent with our view of social justice, should be a main task of socialists today.

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How to End Mass Incarceration – Jacobin – Jacobin magazine

‘Why we shouldn’t mourn the loss of controlled assessment this GCSE results day’ – TES News

There are many and varied examples of the assessment jargon that litters education. The system assesses so oftenthat conjuring new names for the manner and form of it is an art, requiring not only teachers but also parents and students to use them ad nauseum.

One such is controlled assessment: that contribution to the final qualification outcome made not by an examination, but by some form of project work, completed under the supervision of the class teacher, who also then marks it.

Controlled assessment is so named because it is not coursework, which could be taken home. Instead, it must be done in class time.

The latitude given to teachers in controlled assessment issubstantialand the opportunities to nudge the results of some, most or indeed all of the children in the desired direction is ever-present. Perhaps through sharing the specific question too early, or inappropriately editing a students work.

Even if an individual teacher has the moral fibre to resist that temptation, senior management might take a different viewand subtly or perhaps bluntly highlight ways in which the constraints of the rubric can be pushed against and, in some cases, pushed through.

It is a hard truth to acknowledge that cheating or the hardly better euphemism gaming is a problem in teaching. In 2016there were 388 penalties for all forms of cheating, including controlled assessment infractions, issued to school and college staff, an increase from 262 in 2015 and 119 in 2014.

The Tesforums are filled with people who suspect itand several who are open that they have seen it happening in their own school and do not know what to do about it. Innocent teachers and students were the victims of this behaviour.

In 2010, the coalition government more-or-less resolved this problem for teachers by announcing the almost totalabolition of controlled assessment from the reformed GCSEs. This week, the results of the first of those GCSEs English language, English literature and mathematics will be published.

Given that both the content and the construction of the exams is deliberately designed to make them harder, it is likely schools will see some decline in the quality of their results.

Students should be spared problems arising from this by the decision to align the new Grade 4 with the bottom of the old C-grade, so much the same number as got passing grades last year will get them this year, too. Schools, who are to be judged on the number of Grade 5 students receive, may feel more aggrieved.

Almost certainly, some will seek to blame the abolition of controlled assessment in English as one of the reasons for the changes in outcomes. They will probably be right, because controlled assessment is habitually marked more positively than terminal examinations, but no teacher should mourn the loss of controlled assessment.

As well as being enormous amounts of work to teach, invigilate and mark, it presented an unpleasant ethical challenge to all teachers and left a whiff of immorality around our profession that we are well rid of.

John Blake is head of education and social reform at the think-tank Policy Exchange, before which he was a state-school history teacher for 10 years.

Keep up to date with all the latest GCSE news, views and analysis on ourGCSE hub.

Find outwhat colleagues are chatting about in your discipline by visiting the subject based forums in the Tes Community or you can join in the conversation about GCSE results day.

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‘Why we shouldn’t mourn the loss of controlled assessment this GCSE results day’ – TES News

Ross Ahlfeld: Take a stand with us against a UK arms trade causing devastation around the world – CommonSpace


CommonSpace
Ross Ahlfeld: Take a stand with us against a UK arms trade causing devastation around the world
CommonSpace
He ended by encouraging us all to work for the abolition of war, poverty, nuclear weapons and environmental destruction, and fund and support non-violent conflict resolution. With this in mind, Glasgow Catholic Workers are asking for as many people as …

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Ross Ahlfeld: Take a stand with us against a UK arms trade causing devastation around the world – CommonSpace

Philip Hammond urged to use budget to help low-income families … – The Guardian

The Child Poverty Action Group report estimates that it now costs a couple more than 155,000 to bring up a child from birth to age 18. Photograph: Gary Calton for the Observer

Philip Hammond is being urged to use his autumn budget to ease the plight of low-income families, as research shows that rising inflation is making benefits cuts bite harder.

A couple both working full-time on the national living wage in 2017 will generate only enough income to meet 87% of the basic costs of bringing up a child, according to research published by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG). For a lone parent, the figure is 83%.

CPAGs annual Cost of a Child report, by Prof Donald Hirsch of Loughborough Universitys Centre for Research in Social Policy, suggests a series of benefits cuts and freezes, together with the recent rise in inflation, is making it increasingly difficult for low-income families to make ends meet.

Alison Garnham, CPAGs chief executive, said: With the return of inflation, the benefits freeze has become toxic for struggling families. Rather than prioritising tax cuts, which help the better-off, the chancellor should use the autumn budget to invest in helping families with children. Ending the benefits freeze should be the first step he takes to rebalance the finances of ordinary families.

Many in-work benefits have been frozen since last April, in a policy announced by Hammonds predecessor, George Osborne. Other cuts, including the abolition of the child element of tax credits and the decision to offer no additional tax credits for third and subsequent children, are gradually affecting more families.

And Hirschs research suggests the cost of bringing up a child based on survey evidence about what the public believe are the basic necessities of a decent standard of living has begun rising again.

In total, including housing costs, he estimates that it now costs a couple 155,100 to bring up a child from birth to age 18 up from 151,600 last year.

The report says: After a short period of price stability, the cost of a child is once again starting to rise. For the first time in postwar history, these cost increases are not being matched by increases in support given to families from the state. While this policy persists, the struggle that low-income families face to make ends meet will become steadily harder.

Hirsch finds that out-of-work families are left with just 58% of the income they need to meet the costs of bringing up a child and future cuts will see them fall further behind.

For them, the safety net of means-tested support no longer merits this name, since it does not offer the safety of an income capable of covering essentials. Families unable to cover their costs on benefits must either undergo serious hardship, fall back on the help of their families or go into debt, he says.

Inflation has been rising steadily over the past 18 months, from just above zero at the start of 2016 to 2.6% on the new CPIH measure, which includes housing costs.

The Conservative manifesto promised to implement tax cuts first proposed by David Cameron, including raising the higher-rate threshold for income tax to 50,000 by 2020.

During the election campaign, Labour repeatedly contrasted these plans with the plight of low-paid, insecure workers although it did not promise to reverse all planned welfare cuts.

Debbie Abrahams, the shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, said: This report highlights just how hard it is for working families to get by, with a record high of 4 million children now living in poverty under this Tory government.

The Tories have no plan to tackle stagnant wages, insecure employment and rising inflation, choosing instead to make the poorest pay for austerity and their economic mismanagement.

The next Labour government will ensure that work will always pay and put an end to in-work poverty by transforming universal credit, which currently is not fit for purpose and will make families worse off than they were just five years ago.

Osborne announced deep reductions in state support for poorer families in 2015, in a bid to shave 12bn from the annual welfare budget. Some aspects of the package were softened after a parliamentary revolt but the bulk of the cuts are still due to take effect.

A government spokesperson said: Were helping millions of households meet the everyday cost of living and keep more of what they earn. We introduced universal credit, and increased the national living wage and tax free personal allowance to make sure it pays to be in work.

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Philip Hammond urged to use budget to help low-income families … – The Guardian

Government employees go on strike – The Hindu

State Government employees in almost all departments boycotted work and more than 10,000 of them took to the streets on Tuesday in response to a State-wide strike call given by the Joint Action Committee of Tamilnadu Teachers Organisations and Government Employees Organisations (JACTO-GEO).

According to sources, around 5,000 employees from various government offices and nearly 5,500 teachers from State Government-run and aided schools with affiliation to the JACTO-GEO protested in Pollachi, Valparai, Mettupalayam, Sulur, Annur and Kinathukadavu.

The Coimbatore city too saw a protest in front of the Coimbatore South Taluk office. The sources said that around 50 % of the employees from various departments and nearly 50 per cent teachers boycotted work.

Around 2,500 of them, including nearly 1,000 women employees, participated in the protest.

District representatives of JACTO-GEO M. Rajasekaran, V. Senthilkumar and S. Ganesh Kumar led the protests.

C. Arasu, member, district high-level committee, JACTO-GEO, said they had only three demands – the State Government should give up the new contributory pension scheme and revert to the old pension scheme. The new pension scheme was not beneficial to employees and kin of employees who had died in harness did not stand to gain.

The employees were unaware where the money deducted towards pension was and did not want to continue in the new scheme.

V. Senthilkumar said the employees wanted the State Government to implement the Eighth Pay Commission and that too after removing the anomalies in the Seventh Pay Commission. In the interim period, the government should pay 20 % as relief.

Todays was a token strike. If the Government did not heed to their demands, the employees would go on an indefinite strike from September 7, the leaders added.

To mitigate the impact of strike, the School Education Department had roped in students of Bachelor of Education, part-time and special teachers to teach students in its schools. It also took help from private school managements.

Around 11,200 employees of various government departments, affiliated to Joint Action Council of Tamil Nadu Teachers Organisations and Government Employees Organisations, struck work in the district on Tuesday.

The employees staged a protest in front of the Collectorate to highlight their multiple demands including abolition of contributory pension scheme.

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Government employees go on strike – The Hindu

Abolition and replacement of the 457 visa Government …

On 18 April 2017, the Government announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary SkillShortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.

The TSS visa programme will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years and will support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers.

This new visa is part of the Governments significant reform package to strengthen the integrity and quality of Australias temporary and permanent employer sponsored skilled migration programmes.

Key reforms include:

The implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and will be completed in March 2018.

Further information on reforms is available:

Further information on different aspects of the reforms will be published in due course.

1 Set at $53,900 as at 12 April 2016.

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Abolition and replacement of the 457 visa Government …

How to End Mass Incarceration – Jacobin – Jacobin magazine

The United States has not always been the worlds leading jailer, the only affluent democracy to make incapacitation its criminal justice systems goal. Once upon a time, it fashioned itself as the very model of what Michel Foucault called the disciplinary society. That is, it took an enlightened approach to punishment, progressively tethering it to rehabilitative ideals. Today, it is a carceral state, plain and simple. It posts the highest incarceration rate in the world as well as the highest violent crime rate among high-income countries.

Politicians, reporters, and activists from across the political spectrum have analyzed the ongoing crisis of mass incarceration. Their accounts sometimes depict our current plight as an expression of puritanism, as an extension of slavery or Jim Crow, or as an exigency of capitalism. But these approaches fail to address the question that ought to be foremost in front of us: what was the nature of the punitive turn that pushed the US off the path of reform and turned its correctional system into a rogue institution?

While the state-sanctioned brutality that now marks the American criminal justice system has motivated many activists to call for the complete abolition of prisons, we must begin with a clearer understanding of the complex institutional shifts that created and reproduce the phenomenon of mass incarceration. Only then will we be able to see a clear path out of the current impasse.

The core features of Foucaults account of crime, punishment, and social control are well known, although they have not always been well understood. In the disciplinary society he describes, authorities progressively withdraw punishment from public view. And as discipline becomes increasingly private, it shifts its focus from criminals bodies to their minds. Increasingly, punishment is calculated to rehabilitate it is not meant to damage or destroy.

Foucault highlighted how these disciplinary reforms created new and more effective tactics for consolidating power, especially as they spread to non-judicial institutions, like schools, hospitals, factories, and offices. Unlike its predecessor, sovereign power, which subtracts giving kings the right to seize property, to damage or take lives disciplinary power corrects. The Enlightenments gentle punishments would convince the miscreant to mend his crooked ways, not beat the bad behavior out of him.

An American preference for rehabilitative discipline over harsh punishment has deep roots. Resonant with the image of the country as a nation of laws, American justice promised to punish lawbreakers only as much as was necessary to straighten them out. The Bill of Rights prohibited torture, and the Quaker reformers who founded early American penitentiaries treated them as utopian experiments in discipline, purgatories where penitents would suffer and introspect until they found salvation.

No doubt time and circumstance created different opinions about how much suffering genuine personal reformation required, but American practices generally aligned with rising standards of decency. As James Q. Whitman notes, Europeans once viewed the US prison system as a model of enlightened practices. Foreign governments sent delegations on tours of American penitentiaries, and Alexis de Tocqueville extolled the mildness of American punishment.

Of course, we can find exceptions. Southern penal systems, racialized after the Civil War under the convict-lease system, didnt even pretend to have rehabilitative aims. They existed to control the black population and supply cheap labor for agriculture and industry. No doubt, too, the spectacles of punishment associated with popular colonial justice the pillory, the stockade, the scarlet letter cast long shadows across American history.

But, even in the face of these contradictions, the US criminal justice system seemed to support a grand narrative of progressive history: the arc of history bends toward justice, and the slave drivers lash and the lynch mobs noose disappeared as the nation extended more rights and more freedoms to more people. Reasoned law inexorably overcomes communal violence and brute domination.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr thus distinguishes the true essence of the United States from its various manifestations of racism and intolerance, glossing history as the perpetual struggle of Americans to fulfill their deepest values in an enigmatic world.

As recently as fifty-odd years ago, Americans could still believe this story. Here, as in other North Atlantic countries, modern penal models that stress rehabilitation, reform, and welfare had become the prevailing approaches. At the peak of this trend, Great Society programs attempted to address crimes socioeconomic causes: poverty, institutional racism, alienation.

Indeed, as a result of the legal reforms of the 1960s, the American prison population was shrinking, and the state was developing alternatives to incarceration: kinder, gentler institutions that focused on supervision, reeducation, and rehabilitation. To many observers, the prison system actually seemed to be reforming itself out of existence. Leo Bersanis review of Foucaults Discipline and Punish began with the (now astonishing) sentence The era of prisons may be nearly over.

Nothing in Foucaults analysis or anyone elses, as David Garland has remarked could have predicted what followed: a sudden punitive turn designed to incapacitate prisoners rather than rehabilitate them. The practice of locking people up for long periods of time became the criminal justice systems organizing principle, and prisons turned into a reservation system, a quarantine zone where purportedly dangerous individuals are segregated in the name of public safety. The resulting system of mass incarceration, Garland writes, resembles

nothing so much as the Soviet gulag a string of work camps and prisons strung across a vast country, housing [more than] two million people most of whom are drawn from classes and racial groups that have become politically and economically problematic. Like the pre-modern sanctions of transportation or banishment, the prison now functions as a form of exile.

At the peak of this mania, one in every ninety-nine adults was behind bars. Since 2008, these numbers have leveled off and even posted modest declines, but the basic contours remain intact. The United States ranks first in imprisonment among significant nations, whether measured in terms of incarceration rates which remains five to ten times higher than those of other developed democracies or in terms of the absolute number of people in prison.

Hyper-policing helped make hyper-punishment possible. By the mid-2000s, police were arresting a staggering fourteen million Americans each year, excluding traffic violations up from a little more than three million in 1960. That is, the annual arrest rate as a percentage of the population nearly tripled, from 1.6 percent in 1960 to 4.5 percent in 2009. Today, almost one-third of the adult population has an arrest record.

At prevailing rates of incarceration, one in every fifteen Americans will serve time in a prison. For men the rate is more than one in nine. For African American men, the expected lifetime rate runs even higher: roughly one in three.

These figures have no precedent in the United States: not under Puritanism, not even under Jim Crow. While some observers point to significant declines in crime statistics after 1994 as evidence of these policies success, informed estimates show that locking up millions of people for long periods contributed to only as much as 27 percent and as little as 10 percent of the overall reduction in crime.

Eighth Amendment prohibitions notwithstanding, conditions in Americas crowded prisons have sunk to the level of torture. Indeed, the Supreme Courts Brown v. Plata decision affirmed that overpopulation itself constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, creating unsafe and unsanitary conditions, depriving prisoners of basic sustenance, including adequate medical care. The court found that mass incarceration is incompatible with the concept of human dignity.

In this context, structural abuses invariably flourish. Reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch catalog various forms of sanctioned and unsanctioned human rights abuses. These include beatings and chokings, extended solitary confinement in maximum security and so-called supermax prisons, the mistreatment of juvenile and mentally ill detainees, and the inhumane use of restraints, electrical devices, and attack dogs.

Modern prisons have become places of irredeemable harm and trauma. J. C. Oleson surveys these dehumanizing warehouse prisons, where guards have overseen systems of sexual slavery or orchestrated gladiator-style fights between inmates.

Sally Mann Romano describes shocking brutality in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of Californias Pelican Bay State Prison, once touted as a model supermax prison:

It was in this unit that Vaughn Dortch, a prisoner with a life-long history of mental problems, was confined after a conviction for grand theft. There, the stark conditions of isolation caused his mental condition to dramatically deteriorate, to the point that he smeared himself repeatedly with feces and urine. Prison officials took Vaughn to the infirmary to bathe him and asked a medical technician, Irven McMillan, if he wanted a part of this bath. McMillan responded that he would take some of the brush end, referring to a hard bristle brush which is wrapped in a towel and used to clean an inmate. McMillan asked a supervisor for help, but she refused. Ultimately, six guards wearing rubber gloves held Vaughn, with his hands cuffed behind his back, in a tub of scalding water. His attorney later estimated the temperature to be about 125 degrees. McMillan proceeded with the bath while one officer pushed down on Vaughns shoulder and held his arms in place. After about fifteen minutes, when Vaughn was finally allowed to stand, his skin peeled off in sheets, hanging in large clumps around his legs. Nurse Barbara Kuroda later testified without rebuttal that she heard a guard say about the black inmate that it looks like were going to have a white boy before this is through his skin is so dirty and so rotten, its all fallen off. Vaughn received no anesthetic for more than forty-five minutes, eventually collapsed from weakness, and was taken to the emergency room. There he went into shock and almost died.

This scene recalls the opening moments of Discipline and Punish, in which Foucault graphically recounts the slow destruction of Robert-Franois Damienss living body in 1757. Of course, todays torture doesnt appear as a spectacle, staged for public edification. Nor does it resemble the touch of pain strategically administered as bitter medicine to cure the lawbreaker of his sickness a concept of corporeal punishment that goes back to Plato. In those cases, pain served a greater social purpose.

In contrast, a set of invisible and unsanctioned but nonetheless systematic practices, hidden away in the most secret parts of the penal system, has allowed brutality to flourish. Away from public scrutiny, it thrives on retributions personalized and sadistic logic, all that remains of the criminal justice systems moral purpose after rehabilitation disappeared.

Oleson summarizes the logic of the present system: [t]he prison no longer attempts to make angels of men. In modern prisons, a transformation of an entirely different kind is taking place: men are becoming animals. We should not be surprised that the modern penal system a pressure cooker of idle men packed into cramped space devolves into overt torture, for this prison was already an institution in which awful things regularly happen. Nor should we be surprised that these zealous punishments dehumanize the punishers no less than the punished.

The transition from a disciplinary to a punitive penal system happened very quickly, although its implications would go unnoticed for a long time. Arguably, we still dont fully understand the nature of this cultural shift, which exceeds the penal system and appears in a number of the institutions of everyday life. But I get ahead of myself.

The punitive turn began in the turmoil of the 1960s, a time of rapidly rising crime rates and urban disorder. In 1968, with US cities in flames and white backlash gaining momentum, congress overwhelmingly passed and Lyndon Johnson reluctantly signed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. As Jonathan Simon has suggested, the act became something like a blueprint for subsequent crime-control lawmaking.

Shaped by a conservative coalition of Western Republicans and Southern Democrats, the legislation invested heavily in local law enforcement, asserted rules for police interrogations designed to countermand the liberal Warren courts decisions, including Miranda, allowed wiretapping without court approval, and, in a successful bid to secure liberal support, included modest gun control provisions.

Although the legislation did little to increase criminal penalties, it reversed the logic of earlier Great Society programs; instead of providing direct investment, the acts block grants ceded control to local agencies, often controlled by conservative governors. Most importantly, the act established the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), an independent branch of the Justice Department. Blaming low conviction rates on a lack of cooperation from victims and witnesses, the LEAA launched demonstration projects aimed at recruiting citizens into the war on crime.

Tough talk about law and order articulated the strange new angers, anxieties, and resentments racking the nation in the 1960s, as Rick Perlstein has shown, and, by 1972, Richard Nixon had consolidated a new governing coalition that still dominates American politics. Nixons anti-crime narrative appealed to the traditional Republican bases rural and small-town values and incorporated conservative Southern Democrats, who viewed the civil rights movement as lawless and disorderly. It also attracted Northern hardhat conservatives and white ethnic voters alarmed at escalating crime, urban riots, and campus unrest. In short, the nascent war on crime firmed up white backlash and gave durable political form to a conservative counter-counterculture.

But race reactionaries were not the only group spreading tough law-and-order rhetoric. Vanessa Barker has described how African American activists, representing the communities hardest hit by surging crime rates, also agitated for harsher penalties for muggers, drug dealers, and first-degree murderers.

In 1973, incarceration rates began an unprecedented thirty-five-year climb, and political tides began to turn even in liberal states. That year, New York passed the most draconian drug legislation in the country. Under the Rockefeller Drug Laws, the minimum penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, or heroin was fifteen years to life. (It took until 2009 for New York to retire much of what remained of these laws.)

Ironically, the Left was helping to prepare the way for a decisive turn to the Right. Leftist activists from the civil rights, black power, and antiwar movements were leveling heavy criticism against the criminal justice system, and rightly so. Patterns of police brutality had been readily discernible triggers of urban unrest and race riots in the late 1960s, and minorities were overrepresented in the prison population (although not as much as today). Summing up New Left critiques, the American Friends Service Committees 1971 report, Struggle for Justice, blasted the US prison system not only for repressing youth, the poor, and minorities but also for paternalistically emphasizing individual rehabilitation. Rehabilitate the system, not the individual, the report urged but the point got lost in the rancorous debates that followed. As David Garland carefully shows, the ensuing nothing works consensus among progressive scholars and experts discouraged prison reform and ultimately lent weight to the arguments of conservatives, whose approach to crime has always been a simple one: Punish the bad man. Put lawbreakers behind bars and keep them there.

In 1974, Robert Martinsons influential article What Works? marked a definitive turning point. Examining rehabilitative penal systems efficacy, Martinson articulated the emerging consensus nothing works, and rehabilitation was a hopelessly misconceived goal.

Tapping into the zeitgeist, Hollywood released Death Wish that same year, followed by a host of other vigilante revenge films. Exploitation movies enlisted a familiar Victorian spectacle sexual outrages against girls and women in the service of right-wing populism. Their plotlines invariably connected liberals, civil libertarians, and high-minded elites with the criminals who tormented the ordinary citizen. Notably, however, such films carefully muted the racial backlash that had inaugurated the punitive turn: they depicted the vicious criminal as white, allowing audiences to enjoy the visceral thrill of vengeance without troubling their racial consciences.

Comprehensive crime-control bills came and went during the Reagan-Bush years, each more punitive than the last, and new social movements emerged around the politicization of crime.

The victims rights movement played an important role in this story. The movement had started inside the liberal welfare state, and proponents originally saw aid for victims of violent crime as the other half of their attempts to rehabilitate convicts. But, as conservatives recruited victims advocacy and self-help groups into the war on crime, the movement began to pit victims rights against the rights of the accused, aligning with claims that hordes of criminals were escaping justice on legal technicalities.

By 1982, the Reagan administration was drawing this movement securely within the compass of the right, as Bruce Shapiro explained. That year, the Presidents Task Force on Victims of Crime published a report based largely on anecdotal horror stories of double victimization and official unresponsiveness. Based in part on this report, congress passed the Victims of Crime Act in 1984.

This movement focused national attention on victims at a time when violent crime rates remained stubbornly high, providing the moral underpinnings for a punitive approach to crime. It persuaded voters to identify with victims, to diminish the rights of the accused, and to accept excessive policing. It aggressively lobbied for the harsher laws, enhanced penalties, and court procedures that put the prison system on steroids.

But liberal rationales also helped the punitive turn put down institutional roots. The victims rights movement had adopted feminist rhetoric around rape and domestic violence. For example, it claimed that survivors are victimized a second time by their unsatisfying experiences with the police and court system. During the same period, mainstream white feminists came to view rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence through a law-and-order lens and many started demanding harsh criminal penalties. This collusion between conservative victims rights advocates and white feminists undermined the historic liberal commitment to enlightened humanitarianism and progressive reform, especially as these related to crime and punishment.

Although no one could have known it at the time, the early 1990s represented a high-water mark in the crime wave that had begun in the early 1960s. In 1991, homicide rates crested at 9.8 per 100,000, matching the rate recorded in 1974 and almost matching the record rate of 10.2 per 100,000 set in 1980. After 1993, the thirty-year crime wave began to recede, but the punitive turn persisted.

In 1994, Democrats aggressively moved to take back the crime issue from Republicans, and a Democratically controlled congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Like the 1968 act, this 1994 legislation pumped a great deal of federal funding into local law enforcement, funding 100,000 new police officers, new prison construction, and new prevention programs in poor neighborhoods. The new legislation also included an assault weapon ban.

Unlike the 1968 act, however, the 1994 version increased penalties for hate crimes, sex crimes, violence against women, and gang-related crimes. It required states to create sex-offender registries and prodded them to adopt truth in sentencing laws that would entail longer prison sentences. It also dramatically expanded the federal death penalty and eliminated support for inmate education programs.

The 1994 act completely reversed Great Society penal welfarism, consolidating the punitive approach, which Democrats, liberals, and some progressive advocacy groups now embraced. Indeed, lawmakers drafted many of the acts sweeping provisions with liberal interest groups in mind.

We have now lived through more than fifty years of this punitive turn. Its resilience resists simple explanations. Originally a conservative phenomenon, it condensed fears over rising crime rates with the political reaction to the upheavals of the 1960s. In its middle period, liberal aims and rhetoric helped spread the logic of incapacitation, enshrining the victim as the subject of governance and treating the offender like toxic waste to be disposed of or contained. Sensational journalism contributed to this shift, honing the publics focus on the victim, stoking panic and outrage.

Successive waves of draconian legislation targeted outsized monsters: drug dealers, repeat offenders, gang members, sexual predators, terrorists and their sympathizers. Americas zeal for punishment has been bolstered not by one or two causes but by a variety of changing factors. Today, perhaps, it persists as much out of institutional inertia as anything else.

If my thumbnail history is accurate, then we must recognize many of the prevailing critiques of American punishment today as either erroneous or partial and inadequate.

For example, we sometimes see scholarly work that treats mass incarceration as an instance of Foucaults theorized disciplinary system. It would be difficult to imagine a more confused approach. No doubt, todays system has retained many of the disciplinary regimes features: the existence of an institution called the prison; forms of power that penetrate even the smallest details of everyday life; the production of a carceral archipelago that exports surveillance from the penal institution to the entire social body. But all this tells us is that institutions communicate with each other: such examples of connectivity do not belong to the disciplinary mode of power alone.

In fact, the current regime of power represents a radical break with the disciplinary regimes logic and aims: by the early 1970s, the United States was renouncing the corrective focus of penal welfarism, and it now deploys supplementary surveillance beyond the walls of the prison not to rehabilitate offenders or regulate conduct but to catch lawbreakers and feed more and more people into the prison system.

Scholars who study the penal system have developed a large body of work connecting mass incarceration to neoliberal economic policies of deregulation and privatization. Some posit a neoliberal cause and a punitive effect, while others argue that deregulation and privatization exacerbated social inequalities and therefore fostered a fear of crime, ultimately producing more surveillance, policing, and incarceration.

Bernard Harcourt provides a broader view, meticulously examining how classical liberal and neoliberal theories approach policing and punishment as market functions and regulators. In my view, however, he never quite demonstrates a strong connection between such models and present-day lawmaking, penalties, and practices.

No doubt, these analyses express an elemental truth about capitalism and coercion. The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist, as an apologist for both once put it. But the language that describes societys humdrum workings cannot explain systemic changes or historic shifts. Nor should we assume that whatever intensifies capitalism will also intensify coercive tactics. After all, neoliberalism is a global phenomenon, but the punitive state remains distinctly American, at least among developed democracies.

In any case, arguments that link neoliberalism and mass incarceration do not match the actual historical trajectory or the varied political currents in play. The punitive turn, as I have sketched it, began in the mid-to-late 1960s, but neoliberal policies did not begin gaining ascendency until the late 1970s.

Certainly, mass incarceration has had large economic effects. Bruce Western and Katherine Beckett estimated that, during the 1990s, Americas zeal for incarceration shaved two percentage points off unemployment figures. Roughly 4 percent of the civilian labor force either works for the penal system or works to put people in prison. If one includes private security positions and workers who monitor or guard other laborers, the results are striking: in an increasingly garrisonized economy, one out of every four or five American laborers is employed in what Samuel Bowles and Arjun Jayadev call guard labor.

No doubt, the American variant of neoliberalism used these facts to help establish itself. Indeed, one might conclude that the punitive turn, with its disdain for rule-breakers, losers, and outcasts, paved the way for the neoliberal turn, with its love of the market.

Another common line of criticism begins by recognizing the role liberals have played in constructing the punitive state. This scholarship conveys essential truths, but it too often overcorrects the prevailing storyline and erases valuable points of reference.

Naomi Murakawas book, The First Civil Right, is a case in point. The author scrutinizes New Deal timidity in the face of racial violence and calls attention to prominent Democrats and liberals who helped build the prison state by pursuing color-blind laws and modern police forces. In telling this important story, however, Murakawa blurs the important distinction between the Great Society approach to law enforcement and the punitive turn that followed.

Had the Democratic Party stayed its fundamentally social-democratic course, had it kept with the penal systems reformist program, had the policies of Johnsons Attorney General Ramsey Clark remained in place, and this is no small matter had the criminal justice system continued to develop alternatives to incarceration, the United States would not have evolved into a carceral state.

It is of course possible that prison rates would still have risen with the crime rates between the 1970s and the 1990s, but they would not have exploded, and mass incarceration would have remained the stuff of dystopian fiction.

Many activists, journalists, and scholars have highlighted draconian drug penalties as a primary cause of mass incarceration. To be sure, the war on drugs played a significant role in the prison systems growth, especially during the 1980s. But it represents just one element of the larger war on crime and has been slowly winding down since the early 2000s.

Today, drug offenders represent only about 15 percent of sentenced prisoners. While this is by no means a negligible number, we need a wider perspective. Enhanced penalties for a variety of offenses drug possession and distribution, surely, but also violent crimes, repeat offenses, crimes committed with a firearm, and sex crimes have all fueled the growth of the penal system. One often-overlooked population is parole violators, who represented 26 percent of prison admissions in 2013. The fact that the parole system, devised to reduce the prison population, now enlarges it gives us important clues about the self-perpetuating nature of the system today.

Finally, sociologists, criminologists, and critical race scholars have closely scrutinized the racial disparities in arrest, prosecution, and incarceration rates. Many conclude that mass incarceration constitutes a modern regime of racial domination or a new Jim Crow.

This perspective highlights important facts. While African Americans make up only 13 percent of drug users, they account for more than a third of drug arrestees, more than half of those convicted on drug charges, and 58 percent of those ultimately sent to prison on drug charges. When convicted, a black person can expect to serve almost as much time for a drug offense as a white person would serve for a violent offense.

These statistics demonstrate how race-neutral laws can produce race-biased effects, especially when police, prosecutors, juries, and judges make racialized judgments all along the way. Needless to say, had the mania for incarceration devastated white middle- or even working-class communities as much as it has black lower- and working-class communities, it would have proved politically intolerable very quickly.

But the racial critique consistently downplays the effects of mass incarceration on non-black communities. The incarceration rate for Latinos has also risen, and the confinement and processing of undocumented immigrants has become especially harsh. And although white men are imprisoned at a substantially lower rate than either black or brown men, there are still more white men in prison, in both raw and per capita numbers, than at any time in US history.

In mid-2007, 773 of every 100,000 white males were imprisoned, roughly one-sixth the rate for black males (4,618 per 100,000) but more than three times the average rate of male confinement from the 1920s through 1972. As James Forman Jr argues, the racial critiques focus on African American imprisonment rates expressly discourages the cross-racial coalitions that will be required to dismantle mass incarceration.

In his important contribution to this debate, Forman has outlined the racial critiques main limitations. First, he argues that this analysis minimizes the historical effect of spiking crime rates on public opinion and lawmaking. By blaming only white backlash for harsher penalties, the racial critique obscures substantial levels of black support for these policies.

Second, Forman shows that the often-invoked Jim Crow system makes for a poor analogy with mass incarceration. Jim Crow was a legal caste system that took no notice of class distinctions among black people. By contrast, todays punitive system does not affect all African Americans the same way; rather, it predisposes the poorest and least educated to incarceration, and the impact of mass incarceration is concentrated in black inner-city neighborhoods. (As Bruce Western has shown, the risk of going to prison for college-educated black men actually decreased slightly between 1979 and 1999.)

Third, because of its emphasis on drug laws, the racial critique skirts the important question of violent crime. Roughly half the prisoners now in custody were convicted of violent crimes, and racial disparities among this population are even wider. [An] effective response to mass incarceration, Forman concludes, will require directly confronting the issue of violent crime and developing policy responses that can compete with the punitive approach that currently dominates American criminal policy.

We might make a similar argument about the racial critique of abusive policing, which highlights important injustices but fails to provide a comprehensive picture of the whole system. Police do kill more black than white men per capita, a disparity that only increases in the smaller subset of unarmed men killed in encounters with police. But in raw numbers cops kill almost twice as many white men, and non-blacks make up about 74 percent of the people killed by police. We cannot dismiss these numbers as collateral damage from a racialized system that targets black bodies.

Examining the profile of these unarmed men is revelatory. Statistically, an unarmed white man has a slightly smaller chance of being killed by law enforcement than he does of being killed by lightning; an unarmed black mans is a few times more. In either case, these rates are many times higher than in other affluent democracies, where violent crime rates are lower, the citizenry is less armed, and police if armed at all are less trigger-happy.

Whether black or white, the victims of police shootings have a lot in common: many were experiencing psychotic episodes either due to chronic mental illness or drug use when the police were called. Many had prior arrest records or were otherwise previously known to the police. Whether black, white, or brown, the victims of police shootings are disproportionately sub-proletarian or lower working-class.

Exceptions occur the white middle-class teen shot in the back while fleeing from the police; the black child spotted in the park and hastily shot with what turned out to be a toy gun but most victims appear to have lived lives of extreme precarity, variously marked by racial discrimination, poverty, mental illness, and social abandonment.

Thus far I have described the rise of the carceral state in largely negative terms: what happened in the late 1960s was not only a war on drugs nor a new system of racial domination but something wider. A succession of changing motives and rationales supported the punitive turn, and the urge to punish came from an array of sectors and institutions. The time has come to sum up my analysis in more positive terms.

First, beginning in the 1970s, all social institutions turned toward detection, capture, and sanction. A broad-spectrum cultural shift away from values of forbearance, forgiveness, and redemption animated this transformation. The punitive turn was, first and foremost, a cultural turn.

Many observers today look skeptically at cultural explanations of this sort, which claim that people do x because they believe y. From structuralism to poststructuralism and beyond, a cavalcade of theoretical currents promoted an abstract idea of culture, severing it from history and political economy. In highlighting the cultural element in these developments, however, I do not mean to suggest that culture always sets the course of historical events, only that it sometimes does a point that Friedrich Engels was also keen to make.

Further, I do not assert that once the desire to punish got into peoples heads, it spread uniformly throughout society, nor would I argue that this cultural shift sprang into being ex nihilo.

At its inception, the punitive turn found fertile ground in preexisting institutions of race and class. As it developed, political actors and moral entrepreneurs reworked received ideas, some of them older than the republic, some of them torn from the headlines. The United States long history of capitalism and various forms of power all participated in the carceral states development.

Second, federal legislation played a key role in institutionalizing and hardening this cultural change. This was not merely a question of mechanizing the law with mandatory minimum sentences or three strikes provisions but of automating a system of interconnecting institutions.

The nucleus of this development was already present in the 1968 Safe Streets Act, aimed at expanding and modernizing policing, and in the LEAA, designed to increase prosecution and conviction rates. From this start, police forces grew, became more proactive, and made more arrests.

Securing greater cooperation from more victims, prosecutors brought more cases to court often with higher charges. Responding to the shifting mood, judges sentenced more defendants. Across four decades, legislators passed laws that criminalized more activities, increased sentences, and expressly barred compromise, early release, consideration of mitigating circumstances, and so on. Put simply, the law became more punitive. Such mechanisms could persist under changing conditions because a vast institutional network spanning the state and civil society actively produced fresh rationales for them.

The punitive turn was consolidated into a punitive avalanche.

The result was a transformed system, in which prison, parole, and so on were stripped of their disciplinary aims (reeducation, rehabilitation, reintegration) and reoriented toward strictly punitive goals (detection, apprehension, incapacitation). Horkheimer and Adorno would have called this instrumental rationality: a nightmare version of bureaucracy that suspends critical reasoning and tries to establish the most efficient means to achieve an irrational end.

The present moment seems propitious for change. Violent crime rates have fallen to levels not seen since the early 1960s, reducing public pressure for harsh laws and tough sentences. Upbeat journalists periodically write stories covering more rational approaches to crime and punishment in even conservative states. The criminal justice systems racial disparities have become a point of national embarrassment, and, as early as 2007, the United States Sentencing Commission began retroactively intervening to reduce the sentences of some federal inmates convicted on crack-cocaine charges. Polls suggest that Americans across the political spectrum largely support reducing the number of people in prison.

Improvements have moved slowly, however. The prison population fell from a peak of 2.3 million in 2008 to 2.1 million today, but more substantial declines do not appear to be forthcoming. Thanks to our federal system, substantially reforming the carceral regime will prove difficult: it will demand revising thousands of laws and practices at mostly local levels.

Meanwhile, the Left is divided over how to imagine and advocate for our goals. Prison abolitionism has gathered steam among some activists, although it shows little sign of winning over the wider public. With evangelical zeal, abolitionists insist that we must choose between abolition and reform, while discounting reform as a viable option. The history of the prison system, they say, is a history of reform and look where that has gotten us.

I have tried to show here whats wrong with this argument. It is remarkably innocent of history. In fact, the history of reform was interrupted some time around 1973 and what we have had instead for the past five decades is a history of counter-reform. The unconscionable conditions we see today are not inevitable byproducts of the prison; they are the results of the punitive turn.

Abolitionists base their approach on an analogy between the prison system and chattel slavery. This is a strained analogy at best, and it only appears convincing in light of the oversized and unusually cruel American penal system. Slavery was an institution for the extraction of unfree labor over a persons (and his or her childrens) lifetime; the prison is an institution that imposes unfreedom for a set period of time as punishment for serious infractions historically with the express bargain that at least theoretically the lawbreaker was to be improved and reintegrated into society. The better analogy might be with other disciplinary institutions, which also to varying degrees curb freedoms in the name of personal and social good: the school, the hospital, the psychiatric institution.

Abolitionists usually respond to the obvious criticism but every country has prisons by citing Angela Daviss polemical work, Are Prisons Obsolete? Slavery, too, was once universal, they point out; it required the abolitionists utopian vision to put an end to that unjust institution.

But this, too, misstates history. By the time American abolitionism got fully underway in the 1830s, much of Europe and parts of Latin American had already partially or wholly abolished slavery. The Haitian Revolution had dealt the institution a major blow, and slavery was imploding in parts of the Caribbean. A world without slavery was scarcely unthinkable. The same cannot be said of prisons: all signs suggest that the public and not only in the United States believes that prisons are legitimate.

Abolitionist arguments usually gesture at restorative justice, imagining that some sorts of community institutions will oversee non-penal forms of restitution. But here, we are very far out on a limb. Such models might more or less work in small-scale, face-to-face indigenous or religious communities. But, in modern cities, it is implausible to think that families, kinship networks, neighborhood organizations, and the like can adjudicate reconciliation in a fair, consistent manner.

In short, abolitionism promises a heaven-on-earth that will never come to pass. What we really need to do is fight for measures that have already proven humane, effective, and consistent with social and criminal justice.

Consider Finland. In the 1950s, it had high crime rates and a punitive penal system with high incarceration rates and terrible prison conditions. In these regards Finland then was much like the United States today. After decades of humanitarian and social-democratic reforms, the country now has less than one-tenth the rate of incarceration as the United States. Its prisons resemble dormitories with high-quality health care, counseling services, and educational opportunities. Not coincidentally, its prison system does not breed anger, resentment, and recidivism.

Finlands system aligns with that of other Nordic and Northern European nations, all of whom remained continuously on the path of reform. There, small-scale penal institutions are insulated from public opinion, with its periodic rages against lawbreakers, and prioritize genuine criminological expertise. They have expressly rehabilitative aims, working not only to punish but also to repair the person and restore him to society. Penalties top out at around twenty years, consistent with the finding that longer sentences have neither a rehabilitative nor a deterring effect. Many Scandinavian prisons have no walls and allow prisoners to leave during the day for jobs or shopping. Bedrooms have windows, not bars. Kitchens and common areas resemble Ikea displays.

Rather than call for the complete abolition of prisons a policy unlikely to win broad public support the American left should fight to introduce these conditions into our penal system. We should strive not for pie-in-the-sky imaginings but for working models already achieved in Scandinavian and other social democracies. We should demand dramatically better prison conditions, the release of nonviolent first offenders under other forms of supervision, discretionary parole for violent offenders who provide evidence of rehabilitation, decriminalization of simple drug possession, and a broad revision of sentencing laws. Such demands would attract support from a number of prominent social movements, creating a strong base from which we can begin to build a stronger, universal safety net.

Institutions become obsolete only when more effective and more progressive alternatives become available. The poorhouse disappeared when its functions were replaced by social security, public assistance, health care clinics, and mental and psychiatric hospitals. We see no such emergent institutions on the horizon today that might render prisons a thing of the past. What we see instead are examples of criminal justice systems that have continued reforming, modulating, humanizing, shrinking, and decentralizing the functions of the prison. Creating just such a correctional system, based on genuinely rehabilitative goals consistent with our view of social justice, should be a main task of socialists today.

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How to End Mass Incarceration – Jacobin – Jacobin magazine

Uzbekistan To Abolish Exit Visa System In 2019 – Radio Free Europe – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has signed a decree that will enable citizens to travel abroad from the state without permission as of January 1, 2019.

The decree, published by state media outlets on August 16, orders the introduction of biometric passports and the abolition of the exit visa requirement.

The decree says the new rules for foreign travel are designed to “rule out bureaucratic hurdles and instances of corruption” linked to the system under which Uzbeks must seek government approval to leave the country.

A draft decree posted on a government website in January included a clause scrapping the long-standing exit-visa requirement, but officials at the time suggested the change was not imminent.

The system inherited from the Soviet era has been a major barrier for Uzbeks seeking to leave the country, and a source of illegal income for officials who expedite the process in exchange for bribes.

Many people in the Central Asian country of some 30 million travel to Russia to find work and send remittances home.

Mirziyoev has taken steps to decrease Uzbekistan’s isolation since he came to power in September 2016, after the death of autocratic longtime leader Islam Karimov.

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Uzbekistan To Abolish Exit Visa System In 2019 – Radio Free Europe – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty


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