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NCJ Number: 119633 Find in a Library
Title: "Cradled on the Sea": Positive Images of Prison and Theories of Punishment
Journal: California Law Review  Volume:76  Issue:6  Dated:(December 1988)  Pages:1202-1247
Author(s): M G Duncan
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 46
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This interdisciplinary study investigates the meanings of incarceration through an analysis of prison memoirs and novels.
Abstract: It argues that many prisoners and nonprisoners exhibit powerful positive associations with penal confinement, and draws on psychoanalysis, philosophy, and sociology to account for the various sources of attraction that prison exerts. These sources include psychological processes such as institutional transference and oral fixation, cultural archetypes such as the dialectically related polarities of death and rebirth, and sociopolitical factors such as negative aspects of life in freedom. The study considers interrelationships between the analysis of positive images of prison and punishment goals (rehabilitation, deterrence, and retribution). The author contends that the risk of imprisonment for an appreciable number of criminals is actually an inducement rather than a deterrent to crime. She further suggests that the lack of political will to improve prison conditions may stem from the largely unconscious attractiveness of penal confinement to the general population. That is, deprivation of freedom is seen as an insufficient punishment for crime; hence, prisons must be allowed to remain places of physical and psychological brutality. Images of prison as a desirable place reflect actual negative aspects of life in the world outside. More basically, however, these images represent an expression of human beings' essentially psychological and mythopoeic nature and of their tendency to transcend immediate circumstances. 210 references.
Main Term(s): Prison climate
Index Term(s): Inmate attitudes; Psychological theories; Punishment; Sociological analyses
Note: Earlier version of article presented at an Emory Law Faculty Colloquium.
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