Spring 2009

Incarceration and the Family

Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as SOCI-36


Anna M. Curtis (Section 01)


The number of incarcerated persons in the United States has increased dramatically, almost tripling over the past twenty years. According to the Bureau of Justice, as of 2007, 762 per 100,000 United States residents are in custody, an incarceration rate higher than any other nation in the world. The penal system has, almost without public acknowledgement, become a central feature of our social order. Given this, the ways in which the penal system has become linked to and intertwined with other central institutions, including the family, in our society has become increasingly important. We will examine policies and practices within penal institutions dealing with motherhood and fatherhood, as well as the connection between the penal system and the welfare system, in order to consider the following questions: How are fatherhood and motherhood constructed in penal colonies? In what ways do cultural assumptions about masculinity and femininity filter in, and out of, the penal system? What are the consequences for such assumptions? Offered once Spring semester. Visiting instructor Curtis.