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Title: The Paradox of Probation: Understanding the Expansion of an "Alternative" to Incarceration during the Prison Boom
Authors: Phelps, Michelle Suzanne
Advisors: Pager, Devah
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: Criminal Justice
Social Control
Subjects: Sociology
Public policy
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Over the past four decades, the United States embarked on an unparalleled expansion of the criminal justice system. While scholarly and public attention has primarily focused on prison populations, the number under probation supervision is even larger: by 2011, there were nearly 4 million U.S. adults on probation, compared to the 2.2 million incarcerated in jails and prisons. While not as restrictive to liberty, supervision through probation involves limitations and requirements, including regular reporting, drug testing, fines, and barriers on housing and employment, that can reproduce and exacerbate patterns of inequality. This dissertation provides a sociological analysis of the rise of what I title "mass probation" and its importance for understanding criminal justice policy, spatial variation in punishment, and penal theory. In Chapter 2, I focus on the relationship between probation and imprisonment rates at the state level. Using time-series data from 1980 to 2010, I show that probation can contribute either to expansions or reductions in prison populations depending on how it is implemented. Chapter 3 documents that scholars' understanding of variation in the scale of punishment across states is radically reconfigured when probation rates are considered alongside imprisonment rates and proposes a new theoretical typology of state control regimes. Chapter 4 turns to a historical case study of the expansion of mass probation in one state (Michigan). The results suggest that probation flourished during the prison boom because administrators continually reinvented it as the solution to whatever problem the department faced, molding the rhetoric and practices of probation to match prevailing discourses. The analyses reveal new insights on the nature of penal power and the relationship between public rhetoric and on-the-ground practices. Together, this dissertation begins a new sociological conversation about probation and its import for public policy and penal theory.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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