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SOC371H5 Final: SOC371 - Exam Review

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Amy Klassen
Study Guide

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PART II. Inequalities, Experiences in the System and Punishment
October 19: Punishing the Race
Wacquant, Loic. (2001). Deadly symbiosis: When ghetto and prison meet and mesh.
Punishment and Society, 3, 1, 95-133.
African Americans are imprisoned at more than 10 times the rate of their compatriots of
European origin
The Jim Crow regime of racial exclusion and the ghetto in the 20th century have served two
joined purposes: to recruit, organize and extract labor out of African Americans, and to
demarcate and ultimately seclude them so that they would not ‘contaminate’ the surrounding
white society that viewed them as irrevocably inferior and vile because devoid of ethnic
The increase in life expectancy, the growth of the tobacco trade, the need to encourage
further voluntary immigration and the relative powerlessness of African captives compared
to European migrants and native Americans combined to make slaves the preferred source
of labor
The overthrow of bondage made slaves formally free laborers, which potentially eliminated
the cheap and abundant workforce required to run the plantation economy
Former slaves and their descendants were prohibited from attending churches and schools
with whites
The main purpose of school is simply to ‘neutralize’ youth considered unworthy and unruly
by holding them under lock for the day so that, at minimum, they do not engage in street
In today’s warehouse prison, racial affiliation has become the ‘master status trait’ that
submerges all other markers and governs all relations and spaces, from the cells and the
hallways to the dining hall, the commissary and the yard
Parole has become an appendage of the prison which operates mainly to extend the social
and symbolic incapacities of incarceration beyond its walls
The formula ‘Young + Black + Male’ is now openly equated with ‘probable cause’ justifying
the arrest, questioning, bodily search and detention of millions of African-American males
every year
The overrepresentation of blacks in houses of penal confinement and the increasingly tight
meshing of the hyper ghetto with the carceral system suggests that, owing to America’s
adoption of mass incarceration as a queer social policy designed to discipline the poor and
contain the dishonored, lower-class African Americans now dwell, not in a society with
prisons as their white compatriots do, but in the first genuine prison society of history
Hudson, Barbara., & Bramhall, Graham. (2005). Assessing the other: Constructions of
“Asianness” in risk assessments by probation officers. British Journal of Criminology, 45,
4, 721-740.
Strengthened policies and practices were introduced in the 1990s to reduce direct
In 1992, risk assessment became a formal requirement placed upon probation services and
this prompted the replacement o the traditional intuitive, individualistic practitioner approach
to risk assessment by a more formalized, statistical style of risk assessment
Second-generation risk assessment was a statistical scoring on likelihood to reoffend, based
on factors in the 1980s and were associated with ‘selective incapacitation’ strategies in the
USA, where predictive factors were used to select likely reoffenders for longer-than-
proportionate prison terms, or prison rather than community punishment
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Individualized judgement based on interaction with the offenders is replaced by statistical
calculations of risk
Third-generation risk assessment casts the offender not as a ‘fixed risk subject’, but as a
‘transformative risk subject’, able to change by working with probation officers on
‘criminogenic attitudes and needs
Asian crime rates have generally been lower than those of comparable white groups
Because of the combination of socio-economic and demographic pressures, together with
changing perceptions of Muslim Asians, this group may well face similar processes of
criminalization as black ethnic groups in the coming years
Steen, Sara, Rodney L. Engen, and Randy R. Gainey. 2005. "Images of Danger and
Culpability: Racial Stereotyping, Case Processing, and Criminal Sentencing." Criminology
As a result of stereotypes, minority defendants are perceive to be more dangerous,
threatening, and culpable than white defendants
The racial stereotypes approach to understanding disparity in punishment asserts that
global, culturally derived stereotypes about race-ethnicity link certain groups of offenders o
notions of dangerousness, culpability, and threat of criminality
Harsher treatment of minority offenders arises because they are perceived as more culpable
or dangerous than whites, or both
Judges develop “patterned responses” using stereotypes that link individual characteristics
such as race, age or gender to expectations about criminal responsibility and
Stereotypes that are most useful are complete offense-specific constellations of both
offender characteristics and characteristics of the crime
Decision makers rely on typescripts to help determine what type of individual they are
working with and therefore make an appropriate sentencing decision
In assessing the danger a particular offender poses to the community, decision makers
generally assume the female drug offenders present less of a threat than males
Offenders with relatively extensive prior records are assumed to be both a greater risk to the
community in terms of future offending and more deserving of harsh punishment
Decision makers associate imaged of threat with drug offenders based in part on gender,
offense type, and prior record
Judges are more likely to make exceptions for white offenders than for black offenders
Dangerousness and blameworthiness are key focal concerns of criminal justice actors and
are likely to have strong effects on sentence severity
Because decision makers lack complete information about individual cases, decision
makers form causal attributions for offending and assess dangerousness and culpability by
referencing stereotypes
Decision makers’ reference stereotypes about specific types of crime, and that their
perceptions and treatment in individual cases derives from their ability to categorize cases in
these terms
October 19th Lecture Punishing Race
1. Discuss tips for writing Assignment 1
2. Introduce the racialized nature of punishment in the USA and Canada.
3. Explore some explanation for the racial difference in punishment
4. Discuss how prison is now a normalized feature of the lives of young black men in the USA
5. Examine how racial segregation is produced in prison (Goodman)
6. Look at the impact of race in prisons and on probation
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Questions of the Day
1. Using Goodman, discuss how penal environments are racialized spaces. Give 2 examples
of how racial segregation is produced in California prisons.
2. What effect has the war on drugs and the punitive turn had on the overrepresentation of
minorities in the prison systems?
3. Using Western & Pettit and Wacquant, what role does race have on selecting who gets
punished and who does not. How has prison become a common life experience for young
minority men?
Race and Imprisonment Stats: USA
African Americans are 6 times more likely than whites and 4 times more likely than
Hispanics to be in prison
African Americans generally serve longer sentences than all other racial/ethnic groups
o 91.9 months vs. 45.1 months for Whites
There is also by offence differences by race
o Violent crime Whites: 132.6 months
Blacks: 117.2 months
o Drugs Whites: 69.3 months
Blacks: 108.7 months
o Misdemeanors Whites: 4.4 months
Blacks: 8.4 months
Race and Imprisonment: Canada
Aboriginals make up 27% of the provincial inmates, 18% of federal inmates, and 21% on
Aboriginals only make up about 4% of the total adult population in Canada
Aboriginal women make up 30% of the federal female inmate population
More aboriginal peoples are admitted to provincial and federal custody for violent crimes
than non-aboriginals
Aboriginals are less likely to be admitted for drug offences
Why the Disparity?
In the USA there is a long history of connecting Blacks with criminality
The war on drugs has differentially impacted Blacks over white offenders
o Sentencing disparities
o Risk assessment differences
o Tough on crime policies
Lack of social services and education opportunities in poor minority neighbourhoods
Media overrepresentation of Black criminality
Police profiling and differential surveillance
In Canada history of residential schools and reserve conditions foster criminality
Steen et al (2005): Danger, Culpability, Race and Drugs
Looks at the role that race plays in conditioning sentencing outcomes
o How?
1. Racial Stereotyping Perspective
Stereotypes about race cause certain groups of offenders to be considered
more dangerous and culpable than whites
Predicts harsher treatment for minority offenders when they are seen as more
culpable or dangerous
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