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SOC371H5 (18)
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Megan Comfort - the best 7 years i coulda had.docx

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC371H5
Professor
Philip Goodman
Semester
Fall

Description
Megan Comfort: ‘The best seven years I could’a done’: the reconstruction of imprisonment as rehabilitation  Unexpected theme emerges from interviewing men released from prison and their wives/girlfriends o Rather than portraying the incarceration as a waste of time, they convert the mean of a prison sentence from condemnation to redemption (framing it as a period of self improvement and relationship strengthening)  Interview indicates low income people denied social welfare provisions engage in a common theme of „imaginary rehabilitation‟ o “as if” the penitentiary was an acceptable and indeed effective social institution for preparing people to re-enter society  Rehabilitation has become attached to the penitentiary o  There is no evidence to support the argument that punishment is effective in reducing a person‟s subsequent criminal behavior , but rather, evidence points in the direction that such sanctions may increase the likelihood of recidivism  Former prisoners undergo a process of „imaginary rehabilitation‟ behind bars o Social welfare state dwindles toward extinction while poor people, particularly African-American men, are routinely diverted into the criminal justice system whey they are in need of social assistance o Tremendous amount of money is spent on incarcerating individuals, while none goes towards rehabilitative programming (treatment for the conditions or assistance with the circumstances that account for their arrest) o With social-welfare provisions closed down former prisoners seek to give meaning to the years they spent behind bars (they create a narrative of imaginary rehabilitation by crediting the penitentiary for the transformation)  Tremendous rate of incarceration in U.S over last 30 years, rate 6-12 times higher than West Europe o Black men represent 13% of American population, and 41% of men locked up o Socioeconomic and ethic disparities in incarceration result from lack of access to housing, employment, education, substance abuse treatment and other factors that affect a person‟s likelihood of turning to illegal means for survival  Analysis of interviews indicates that, as low-income people are denied social welfare provisions and instead, are relegated to the penal arm of the state, they engage in imaginary rehabilitation o They act „as if‟ the penitentiary was acceptable and effective social institution for preparing them to „re-enter‟ a society from which they have been consistently excluded  Roberts story of his rescue begins with the premise: the road to recovery that literally begins with a prison bed  Correctional apparatus as gatekeeper for social services o Services that were once delivered by the socio-welfare state have become tied, in reality, and in minds of people who need them, to correctional beds o For example, Robert relied on imprisonment as a means of attaining social services he required (261-262) o Michael describ
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