Critical Criminology

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 493–508 | Cite as

Reentry Within the Carceral: Foucault, Race and Prisoner Reentry



Early research on prisoner reentry was largely practical and applied, oriented to policymakers responding to the myriad challenges presented by having millions of people leaving prisons and jails each year. More recently, scholars have drawn on critical theoretical frameworks to reformulate the problem as bound up with large-scale shifts in the nature of social control (Wacquant in Dialect Anthropol 34(4):605–620, 2010a), deep racial divisions (Nixon et al. in Race/Ethnicity: Multidiscip Glob Contexts 2(1):21–43, 2008), and transformations of the United States political economy (Hallett in Crit Criminol. doi:10.1007/s10612-011-9138-8, 2011). This paper continues the work of theoretical elaboration through two avenues: (1) examining the contribution that Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish can make to the conceptual development of reentry scholarship, and (2) reworking Foucauldian concepts and themes important to the study of reentry to account for their racialized characteristics.


  1. Alexander, M. (2010). The new Jim crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
  2. Alford, C. F. (2000). What would it matter if everything foucault said about prison were wrong? Discipline and punish after twenty years. Theory and Society, 29(1), 125–146.Google Scholar
  3. Aranda, E. (2007). Emotional bridges to Puerto Rico: Migration, return migration, and the struggles of incorporation. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  4. Azocar, C., & Dixon, T. (2007). Priming crime and activating blackness: Understanding the psychological impact of the overrepresentation of blacks as lawbreakers on television news. Journal of Communication, 57(2), 229–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barlow, M. H. (1998). Race and the problem of crime in Time and Newsweek cover stories, 1946 to 1995. Social Justice, 25, 149–183.Google Scholar
  6. Bonczar, T. P. (2003). Prevalence of imprisonment in the U.S. population, 1974–2001. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  7. Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2009). Prison inmates at midyear 2009. Washington, DC: Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics.Google Scholar
  8. Burston, B., Jones, D., & Roberson-Saunders, P. (1995). Drug use and African Americans: Myth versus reality. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 40(2), 19–39.Google Scholar
  9. Chambliss, W. (1995). Crime control and ethnic minorities: Legitimizing racial oppression by creating moral panics. In D. F. Hawkins (Ed.), Ethnicity, race, and crime (pp. 235–258). Albany: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  10. Davis, A. (1998). Racialized punishment and prison abolition. In J. James (Ed.), The Angela Y. Davis Reader (pp. 96–110). New York: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Dixon, T. L., & Maddox, K. B. (2005). Skin tone, crime news, and social reality judgments: Priming the stereotype of the dark and dangerous black criminal. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35(8), 1555–1570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eberhardt, J. L., Goff, P. A., Purdie, V. J., & Davies, P. G. (2004). Seeing black: Race, crime, and visual processing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(6), 876–893.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Feeley, M. M., & Simon, J. (1992). The new penology: Notes on the emerging strategy of corrections and its implications. Criminology, 30(4), 449–474.Google Scholar
  14. Foucault, M. (1974). On Attica: An interview. Telos, 19, 154–161.Google Scholar
  15. Foucault, M. (1979). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  16. Foucault, M. (2003). ‘Society Must Be Defended’: Lectures at the College de France, 1975–76. New York: Picador.Google Scholar
  17. Fraser, N. (2003). From discipline to flexibilization? Rereading Foucault in the shadow of globalization. Constellations, 10(2), 160–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Garland, D. (2001). Introduction: The meaning of mass imprisonment. In D. Garland (Ed.), Mass imprisonment: Social causes and consequences (pp. 1–3). London: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Garland, D. (2009). A culturalist theory of punishment? Punishment and Society, 11, 259–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Geller, A. C., & Curtis, M. A. (2011). A sort of homecoming: Incarceration and the housing security of urban men. Social Science Research, 40(4), 1196–1213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gowan, T., & Whetstone, S. (2012). Making the criminal addict: Subjectivity and social control in a strong-arm rehab. Punishment and Society, 14(1), 69–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gowan, T., Whetstone, S., & Andic, T. (2012). Agency, addiction, and the politics of self-control: Practicing harm reduction in a heroin users’ group. Social Science and Medicine, 74(8), 1251–1260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hallett, M. (2011). Reentry to what? Theorizing Prisoner Reentry in the Jobless Future. Critical Criminology,. doi:10.1007/s10612-011-9138-8.Google Scholar
  24. Hammett, T. M., Roberts, C., & Kennedy, S. (2001). Health-related issues in prisoner reentry. Crime and Delinquency, 47(3), 390–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Harcourt, B. (2007). Against prediction: Profiling, policing, and punishing in an actuarial age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. Harcourt, B. (2008). A reader’s companion to against prediction: A reply to Ariela Gross, Yoram Margalioth, and Yoav Sapir on Economic Modeling, Selective Incapacitation, Governmentality, and Race. Law & Social Inquiry, 33(1), 265–283. Google Scholar
  27. Harris, D. A. (1999). The stories, the statistics, and the law. Why ‘Driving While Black’ matters. Minnesota Law Review, 84, 265–326.Google Scholar
  28. Heiner, B. T. (2007). Foucault and the black panthers. City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, and Action, 11(3), 313–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hirschfield, P. (2008a). Preparing for prison? The criminalization of school discipline in the USA. Theoretical Criminology, 12(1), 79–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hirschfield, P. (2008b). The declining significance of delinquent Labels in disadvantaged urban communities. Sociological Forum, 23(3), 575–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hughes, T., & Wilson, D. (2004). Reentry trends in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.Google Scholar
  32. Jacobs, J. (2006). Mass incarceration and the proliferation of criminal records. St. Thomas Law Review, 3, 387–420.Google Scholar
  33. Jacobs, J., & Crepet, T. (2007). Expanding scope, use, and availability of criminal records. NYU Journal of Legislation and Public Policy, 11(2), 177–213.Google Scholar
  34. James, J. (1996). Erasing the spectacle of racialized violence. In J. James (Ed.), Resisting state violence (pp. 24–43). New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  35. Kennedy, R. (1997). Race, crime, and the law. New York: Pantheon Press.Google Scholar
  36. Langan, P., & Levin, D. J. (2002). Recidivism of prisoners released in 1994. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.Google Scholar
  37. Macey, D. (1995). The lives of Michel Foucault. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  38. Mallik-Kane, K., & Visher, C. A. (2008). Health and prisoner reentry: How physical, mental, and substance abuse conditions shape the process of reintegration. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.Google Scholar
  39. Mancini, M. (1996). One dies, get another: Convict leasing in the American South 1866–1928. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  40. Martinez, D. J., & Christian, J. (2009). The familial relationships of former prisoners. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 38(2), 201–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mendelberg, T. (2008). Racial priming revived. Perspectives on Politics, 6(1), 109–123.Google Scholar
  42. Mendieta, E. (2004). Plantations, ghettos, prisons: US racial geographies. Philosophy and Geography, 7(1), 43–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Miller, J. (1993). The passion of Michel Foucault. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  44. Miller, J. (2010). Search and destroy: African-American males in the criminal justice system (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Naser, R. L., & LaVigne, N. G. (2006). Family support in the prisoner reentry process: Expectations and realities. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 43(1), 93–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Neckerman, K. M., Carter, P., & Lee, J. (1999). Segmented assimilation and minority cultures of mobility. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 22(6), 945–965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nixon, V., Clough, P. T., Staples, D., Peterkin, Y. J., Zimmerman, P., Voight, C., et al. (2008). Life capacity beyond reentry: A critical examination of racism and prisoner reentry reform in the United States. Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts, 2(1), 21–43.Google Scholar
  48. NYCLU. (2012). Stop and frisk practices. New York: New York Civil Liberties Union.
  49. Olusanya, O., & Cancino, J. (2011). Cross-examining the race-neutral frameworks of prisoner re-entry. Critical Criminology,. doi:10.1007/s10612-011-9143-y.Google Scholar
  50. Pager, D. (2003). The mark of a criminal record. American Journal of Sociology, 108(5), 937–975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pager, D. (2007). Marked: Race, crime, and finding work in an era of mass incarceration. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pager, D., Western, B., & Sugie, N. (2009). Sequencing disadvantage: Barriers to employment facing young black and white men with criminal records. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 623, 195–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Petersilia, J. (2001). Prisoner reentry: Public safety and reintegration challenges. The Prison Journal, 81(3), 360–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Petersilia, J. (2003). When prisoners come home: Parole and prisoner reentry. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Portes, A., & Zhou, M. (1993). The new second generation: Segmented assimilation and its variants. Annals of the American Political and Social Sciences, 530, 74–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Rios, V. M. (2007). The hyper-criminalization of Black and Latino youth in the era of mass incarceration. In M. Marable (Ed.), Racializing justice, disenfranchising lives. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  57. Rios, V. (2011). Punished: Policing the lives of Black and Latino boys. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Ross, J. (2011). Deconstructing the prisoner re-entry industry/complex: Origins of the term and a critique of current literature/analysis. In I. O. Ekunwe & R. S. Jones (Eds.), Global perspectives on re-entry (pp. 173–197). Tampere, FI: Tampere University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Saperstein, A., & Penner, A. (2010). The race of a criminal record: How incarceration colors racial perceptions. Social Problems, 57(1), 92–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Simon, J. (2007). Governing through crime: How the war on crime transformed American democracy and created a culture of fear. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Simon, J. (2010). Beyond the panopticon: Mass imprisonment and the humanities. Law, Culture and the Humanities, 6(3), 327–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Simon, J., & Feeley, M. (2003). The form and limits of the new penology. In T.G. Blomberg & S. Cohen (Eds.), Punishment and social control (2nd ed., pp. 75–116). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  63. Smith, P. (2008). Punishment and culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  64. Solomon, A., Johnson, K. D., Travis, J., & McBride, E. C. (2004). From prison to work: The employment dimensions of prisoner reentry. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.Google Scholar
  65. Thompkins, D., Curtis, R., & Wendel, T. (2010). Forum: The prison reentry industry. Dialectical Anthropology, 34(4), 427–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tonry, M. (2009). Explanations of American punishment policies. Punishment and Society, 11(3), 377–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tonry, M. (2011). Punishing race: A continuing American dilemma. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Travis, J. (2005). But they all come back: Facing the challenges of prisoner reentry. New York: Urban Institute Press.Google Scholar
  69. Travis, J., & Visher, C. (2005). Prisoner reentry and crime in America. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  70. Uggen, C., Manza, J., & Behrens, A. (2003). Felon voting rights and the disenfranchisement of African Americans. Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, 5(3), 47–55.Google Scholar
  71. Uggen, C., Manza, J., & Thompson, M. (2006). Citizenship, democracy, and the civic reintegration of criminal offenders. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 605(1), 281–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Uggen, C., Wakefield, S., & Western, B. (2005). Work and family perspectives on reentry. In J. Travis & C. Visher (Eds.), Prisoner reentry and crime in America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Visher, C. A., Debus-Sherrill, S. A., & Yahner, J. (2010). Employment after prison: A longitudinal study of former prisoners. Justice Quarterly, 28(5), 698–718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Visher, C. A., & Travis, J. (2003). Transitions from prison to community: Understanding individual pathways. Annual Review of Sociology, 29(1), 89–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wacquant, L. (2001). Deadly symbiosis. Punishment and Society, 3(1), 95–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wacquant, L. (2005). Race as civic felony. International Social Science Journal, 57(183), 127–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wacquant, L. (2010a). Prisoner reentry as myth and ceremony. Dialectical Anthropology, 34(4), 605–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Wacquant, L. (2010b). Crafting the neoliberal state: Workfare, prison fare, and social insecurity. Sociological Forum, 25(2), 197–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Waters, M. (1999). Black identities: West Indian immigrant dreams and American realities. New York, Cambridge: Russell Sage Foundation, Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Weaver, V. M. (2007). Frontlash: Race and the development of punitive crime policy. Studies in American Political Development, 21(02), 230–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Welch, M. (2010). Pastoral power as penal resistance. Punishment and Society, 12(1), 47–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Welch, M. (2011). Counterveillance: How Foucault and the Groupe d’Information sur les prisons reversed the optics. Theoretical Criminology, 15(3), 301–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Welch, M., & Macuare, M. (2011). Penal tourism in Argentina: Bridging Foucauldian and neo-Durkheimian perspectives. Theoretical Criminology, 15(4), 401–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Western, B. (2006). Punishment and inequality in America. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  85. Wideman, J. E. (1995). Doing time, marking race. The Nation, 261, 503–505.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Boston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

Personalised recommendations