Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 113–135 | Cite as

The rebirth of the prison in Latin America: determinants, regimes and social effects

  • Paul HathazyEmail author
  • Markus-Michael Müller


Throughout the last three decades, almost all Latin American countries witnessed a dramatic growth of their inmate population that is indicative of the rebirth of the prison in the region. This article contextualizes the rebirth of the prison in contemporary Latin America in empirical and theoretical terms. To this end, it offers a discussion of the expansion of Latin American imprisonment, changes in the region’s prison regimes and their embeddedness within wider social and economic contexts, as well as of the impact of institutional histories, larger economic and political transformation processes and globally circulating penal ideas and institutional models, all of which contribute to the growing punitiveness of contemporary Latin America states and politics.


Organize Crime Party System Prison System Prison Life Latin American State 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Aguilar, A., & A. America. (2012). Reforms to the public prosecutor office in Brazil, Chile and Mexico: The role of justice interest groups. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network.
  2. 2.
    Aguirre, C. (2009). Carcel y sociedad en américa Latina: 1800–1940. Historia social Urbana. Espacios y flujos, edited by Eduardo Kingman garces. Quito: FLACSO Ecuador.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Antillano, A. (2013). La reforma policial. Luces y sombras. Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela Departamento de Derecho Penal y Criminología.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Arias, D. (2006). "The dynamics of criminal governance: Networks and social order in Rio de Janeiro" Journal of Latin American Studies, 38(2): 293–325Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Arias, D. E. & Goldstein, D. M. (2010) (eds.). Violent Democracies in Latin America. Durham, NC and London: Duke University PressGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Arteaga Botello, N. (2005). Seguridad privada y populismo punitivo en México. Quivera, 1, 339–355.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Auyero, J., & Berti, M. F. (2013). La violencia en los márgenes. Katz: Una maestra y un sociólogo en el Conurbano Bonaerense. Buenos Aires.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bergman, M. (2014). Delito, marginalidad y desempeño institucional e n Argentina: Resultado de la encuesta de presos condenados. Buenos Aires: Centro de Estudios Latinoamericano sobre Inseguridad y violencia.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bergman, M., & Whitehead, L. (2009). Criminality, public security, and the challenge to democracy in Latin America. Notre Dame:University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Birkbeck, C. (2011). Imprisonment and internment: comparing penal institutions north and south. Punishment and Society, 13(3), 307–332. doi: 10.1177/1462474511404320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Brodwyn, F. (2014). "Introduction" in Brodwyn, F., B. McCann, and J. Auyero (eds.) Cities From Scratch: Poverty and informality in urban Latin America. Durham: Duke University PressGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Caimari, L. (2004). Apenas un delincuente: Crimen, castigo y cultura en la Argentina, 1880–1955 (1. ed., ). Buenos Aires:Siglo XXI Editores Argentina.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Caldeira, T. (2001). City of walls: Crime, segregation, and citizenship in São Paulo. Berkeley:University of California Press.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Caldeira, T. (2006). "I came to sabotage your reasoning. Violence and resignification of justice in Brazil" in J. Commaroff and J. Commaroff. (eds) Law and disorder in the postcolony. Chicago, Ill.: Chicago University PressGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    da Silveira Campos, M. (2014). Crime e congresso nacional: Uma analise da política criminal aprovada De 1989 a 2006. Revista Brasileira De Ciência Política, 15, 315–347. doi: 10.1590/0103-3352201415011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Cavarozzi, M. (2006). Autoritarismo y democracia : (1955–2006). Buenos Aires: Ariel.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Cepeda Ulloa, F. (2008). Colombia: democratic security and political reform. In J. Dominguez, & M. Shifter (Eds.), Constructing democratic governance in Latin America (pp. 209–241). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Comfort, M. (2007). Punishment beyond the legal offender. Annual Review of Law and Social Sciences, 3, 271–296. doi: 10.1146/annurev.lawsocsci.3.081806.112829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Corral, D. (2010). Los miedos y el alma inquieta del barrio. Representaciones sociales sobre la inseguridad y lógicas de acción en sectores populares del gran Buenos Aires. In G. Kessler, M. Svampa, & I. Gonzales (Eds.), Reconfiguraciones del mundo popular. En conurbano bonaerense en la postconvertibilidad (pp. 457–504). Buenos Aires: Prometeo Libros-Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Cribb, R. (2009). Introduction: Parapolitics, shadow governance and criminal sovereignty. In E. Wilson (Ed.), Government of the shadows: Parapolitics and criminal sovereignty (pp. 1–9). London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Dammert, L., & Salazar, F. (2009). ¿Duros con el delito? Populismo e inseguridad en América Latina. FLACSO:Santiago.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Darke, S., & Karam, M. L. (2015). Latin American prisons. In Y. Jewkes (Ed.), Handbook of prisons. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Davis, D., E. (2013). Zero-tolerance policing, stealth real estate development, and the transformation of public space: evidence from Mexico City. Latin American Perspectives 40(2), 53–76.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Delgado Rosales, F. (1995). El caso Sabeneta: Un modelo de investigación-acción. Capítulo Criminológico, 23(2), 151–203.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Denyer Willis, G. (2009). Deadly symbiosis? The PCC, the state and the institutionalization of violence in São Paulo. In D. Rodgers & G., A. Jones (Eds.), Youth violence in Latin America (pp. 167–182). York: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Drake, D., S., Darke, & R. Earle. (forthcoming). Sociology of prison life. In J. Wright (Ed.), International encyclopedia of social and behavioral sciences. Oxford: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Drake, P., & Jaksic, I. (1999). El ‘modelo’ Chileno. Democracia y desarrollo en los noventa. In P. Drake, & I. Jaksic (Eds.), El modelo Chileno: Democracia y desarrollo en los noventa. Santiago de Chile: LOM Ediciones.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Elias, N. (2000). The civilizing process: Sociogenetic and psychogenetic investigations. Oxford:Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Foucault, M. (1996). Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Garces, C. (2014). Denuding surveillance at the carceral boundary. South Atlantic Quarterly, 113(3), 447–473. doi: 10.1215/00382876-2692146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Goffman, E. (1961). Asylums: Essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates. Garden City: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Goldestein, D. (2012). Outlawed: Between security and rights in a Bolivian City. Durham:Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Goldestein, D. (2004). The spectacular city: Violence and performance in urban Bolivia. Durham:Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Hathazy, P. (2012). Por una nueva justicia penal: Expertos, burócratas y política en la reforma procesal penal Chilena (con referencia obligada al caso argentino). In G. Albuquerque, & G. Feitosa (Eds.), Direito e justica na integracao do américa do Sul (pp. 153–187). Fortaleza: Editorial Universidad do Ceará.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Hathazy, P. (2013a). (Re)Shaping the neoliberal leviathans: the politics of penality and welfare in Argentina, Chile and Peru. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, 95, 1–25.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Hathazy, P. (2013b). Democratizing Leviathan: politics, experts and bureaucrats in the transformation of the penal state in Argentina and Chile. PhD Dissertation, Berkeley: Department of Sociology, University of California Berkeley.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Iturralde Sanchez, M. (2010). Castigo, liberalismo autoritario y justicia penal de excepción. Bogota:Siglo del hombre – Universidad de los Andes.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Iturralde Sanchez, M. (2012). O governo neoliberal da insegurança social na américa Latina: Semelhanças e diferenças com o Norte global. In V. Malaguti Batista (Ed.), Loic wacquant e a questão penal no capitalismo neoliberal (pp. 167–195). Rio de Janeiro: Editora Revan.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Lamounier, B. (2003). Brazil: An assessment of the Cardoso administration. In J. Dominguez, & M. Shifter (Eds.), Constructing democratic governance in Latin America (pp. 269–291). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    La Nación. (2015). Desde la carcel los monos siguen activos y manejan la venta de droga. March 1st. Section A, Page 14, Column 2.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Langer, M. (2007). Revolution in Latin American criminal procedure: diffussion of legal ideas from the periphery. American Journal of Comparative Law, 55, 617–676.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Lessing, B. (2010). The danger of dungeons. Prison Gangs and Incarcerated Militant Groups. Small Arms Survey, 6, 157–183.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Levitsky A (2003). Argentina: From crisis to consolidation (and back). J. Dominguez and M. Shifter (Eds.), Constructing democratic governance in Latin America (pp. 244–268). Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Ministerio de Justicia de Perú (2013). Evaluación del proceso de implementación del código procesal penal. Lima:Ministerio de Justicia.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Madeira, L. M. (2012). Trajetorias de homens infames. Políticas públicas penais e programas de apoio a agressos do sistema penitenciario no Brasil. Curitiba: Appris.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Müller, M.-M. (2012a). The rise of the penal state in Latin America. Contemporary Justice Review, 15(1), 57–76. doi: 10.1080/10282580.2011.590282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Müller, M.-M. (2012b). The universal and the particular in Latin American penal state formation. In P. Squires, & J. Lea (Eds.), Criminalisation and advanced marginality. Critically exploring the work of loïc wacquant (pp. 195–216). Bristol: The Policy Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Müller, M.-M. (2013). Penal statecraft in the Latin American city: assessing Mexico city’s punitive urban democracy. Social & Legal Studies, 22(4), 441–463. doi: 10.1177/0964663913482932.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Müller, M.-M. (2014). De-monopolizing the bureaucratic field: internationalization strategies and the transnationalization of security governance in Mexico city. Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 39(1), 37–54. doi: 10.1177/0304375414560467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Müller, M.-M. (forthcoming). The punitive city: privatised policing, informal politics and protection in Neoliberal Mexico. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Nunes Dias, C. C. (2011). Da pulverização ao monopólio da violência: Expansão e consolidação do primeiro comando da capital (PCC) no sistema carcerário paulista. PhD dissertation in sociology, Sao Paulo: Universidade de Sao Paulo.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Organización Internacional del Trabajo. (2013). Panorama laboral 2013. América Latina y El Caribe. Lima: ILO Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Portes, A., & Roberts, B. (2005). The free-market city: Latin American urbanization in the years of the neoliberal experiment. Studies in Comparative International Development, 40(1), 43–82. doi: 10.1007/BF02686288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Rico, J. M. (1981). Crimen y justicia en América Latina. Siglo XXI.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Rico, J. M. (1998). Justicia y transición democrática. México:Siglo XXI.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Salvatore, R., & C. Aguirre. (1996) (Eds). The birth of the penitentiary in Latin America: essays on criminology, prison reform, and social control, 1830–1940. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Salvatore, R., & Aguirre, C. (2001). In G. M. Joseph (Ed.), Crime and punishment in Latin America: Law and society since late Colonial Times. Durham: : Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Silvestre, G. (2012). Dias de Visita. Sao Paulo:Alameda.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Sinhoretto, J. (2012). Campo estatal de administração de conflitos: múltiplas intensidades da justiça. Anuário Antropológico, 2, 109–123.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    De Souza Costa, R., & Japiassú, C. (2010). Las prisiones cautelares en Brasil. In M. Duce (Ed.), Prisión preventiva y reforma procesal penal en América Latina (pp. 121–208). Santiago: CEJA.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Steinmetz, G. (1998). Critical realism and historical sociology. A review article. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 40(01), 170–186. doi: 10.1017/S0010417598980069.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Sykes, G. M. (1958). The society of captives; a study of a maximum security prison. Princeton:Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Swanson, K. (2013). Zero tolerance in Latin America: punitive paradox in urban policy mobilities. Urban Geography, 34(7), 972–988. doi: 10.1080/02723638.2013.799369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Tonry, M. (2007). Determinants of penal policies. Crime and Justice 36(1), 1–48. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-4469.2009.01152.x
  66. 66.
    Ungar, M. (2003). Prisons and politics in contemporary Latin America. Human Rights Quarterly, 25(4), 909–934. doi: 10.1353/hrq.2003.0053.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Viegas Barriga, F. (2012). Desencajados. Remanencias de Pabellón en Liberados de Cárceles Bonaerenses. In O. Barreneche, & A. Oyhandy (Eds.), Leyes, Justicias e Instituciones De Seguridad En La Provincia De Buenos Aires (Siglox XIX a XXI (pp. 321–351). La Plata: Universidad Nacional de la Plata.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Wacquant, L. (2003). Toward a dictatorship over the poor? Punishment & Society, 5(2), 197–205. doi: 10.1177/146247450352004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Wacquant, L. (2008). The militarization of urban marginality: lessons from the Brazilian metropolis. International Political Sociology, 2(1), 56–74. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-5687.2008.00037.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Wacquant, L. (2009). Punishing the poor: The neoliberal government of social insecurity. Durham, NC:Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Waldmann, P. (2003). Protección o extorsión? Aproximación al perfil real de la policía en Latino América. In P. Waldmann (Ed.), El estado anómico. Derecho, seguridad pública y vida cotidiana en América Latina (pp.). Caracas: Nueva Sociedad.Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Walmsley, R. (2011). World prison population list (tenth ed.). Essex: International Centre for Prison Studies.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Walmsley, R. (2013). World prison population list (eleventh ed.). Essex: International Centre for Prison Studies.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Willis, G. D. (2009). "Deadly Symbiosis? The PCC, the State and the Institutionalization of Violence in São Paulo" in D. Rogers (2009) Youth Violence in Latin America. New York: PalgraveGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CONICET; Universidad Nacional de CórdobaCórdobaArgentina
  2. 2.Freie Universität Berlin, ZI Lateinamerika InstitutBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations