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NCJ Number: 65187 Find in a Library
Title: SOCIAL CONTROL IN AMERICA - WHY PRISONS? (FROM ALTERNATIVES TO PRISONS - ISSUES AND OPTIONS, 1979, BY RODGER O DARNELL ET AL - SEE NCJ-65182)
Author(s): R A LOWE
Corporate Author: University of Iowa
School of Social Work
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 7
Sponsoring Agency: University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: RESEARCH BEARING UPON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF IMPRISONMENT AS A MEANS OF SOCIAL CONTROL IS DISCUSSED.
Abstract: FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS DISCUSSION, SOCIAL CONTROL IS VIEWED AS SOCIAL REACTION TO BEHAVIOR PERCEIVED AS DEVIANT. TRADITIONALLY, THE FORMAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS AMERICAN SOCIETY'S PRIMARY REACTION TO DEVIANCE, AND IMPRISONMENT IS A PREVALENT SOCIAL CONTROL REACTION WITHIN THAT SYSTEM. SOME THEORISTS HAVE ARGUED THAT CONTACT WITH THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM PRODUCES A PHENOMENON CALLED 'LABELING' WITH REINFORCES A DEVIANT IDENTITY AND INTENSIFIES ALIENATION FROM COMMUNITY NORMS, THUS ULTIMATELY FAILING AS A SOCIAL CONTROL MECHANISM. CONTEMPORARY THEORIES OF CRIME HOLD THAT ECONOMIC FACTORS, OPPORTUNITY STRUCTURES, AND SOCIAL INFLUENCES BEAR UPON THE PRODUCTION OF DEVIANT BEHAVIOR. THIS IMPLIES THAT SOCIAL CONTROL MUST NOT FOCUS JUST UPON THE INDIVIDUAL DEVIANT BUT ALSO UPON THE ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS CONDITIONING DEVIANCE. THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, AND NOTABLY IMPRISONMENT, USE OF A PRIMARILY COERCIVE MECHANISM TO RESTRAIN OR PUNISH THE DEVIANTS AS INDIVIDUALS PRESUMED RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN BEHAVIOR. WHILE RESEARCHERS MAY AFFIRM THE VALUE OF PUNISHMENT OR NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES AS A TEMPORARY OR SHORT-TERM MEANS OF BEHAVIORAL CONTROL, IT IS GENERALLY BELIEVED THAT THEY DO NOT PRODUCE THE INTERNALIZATION OF THE DESIRED BEHAVIORAL NORMS UNLESS THEY ARE ADMINISTERED JUDICIOUSLY IN AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE THE DEVIANTS' BASIC HUMAN WORTH IS AFFIRMED. RESEARCH FINDINGS ARE SUFFICIENT TO CALL INTO QUESTION TRADITIONAL MEANS OF SOCIAL CONTROL AND SUGGEST THE NEED FOR EXPERIMENTATION WITH ALTERNATIVE MEANS OF CORRECTING DEVIANT BEHAVIOR. REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (RCB)
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Corrections effectiveness; Critiques; Deviance; Incarceration; Labeling theory; Social control theory
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=65187

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