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Offending Women

Offending Women: Power, Punishment, and the Regulation of Desire

LYNNE A. HANEY
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pncbg
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  • Book Info
    Offending Women
    Book Description:

    Offending Womenis an eye-opening journey into the lived reality of prison for women in the United States today. Lynne Haney looks at incarcerated mothers, housed together with their children, who are serving terms in alternative, community-based prisons-a type of facility that is becoming increasingly widespread. Incorporating vivid, sometimes shocking observations of daily life, she probes the dynamics of power over women's minds and bodies that play out in two such institutions in California. She finds that these "alternative" prisons, contrary to their aims, often end up disempowering women, transforming their social vulnerabilities into personal pathologies, and pushing them into a state of disentitlement. Uncovering the complex gendered underpinning of methods of control and intervention used in the criminal justice system today,Offending Womenlinks that system to broader discussions on contemporary government and state power, asks why these strategies have arisen at this particular moment in time, and considers what forms of citizenship they have given rise to.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94591-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC JOURNEY ACROSS STATES
    (pp. 1-26)

    ʺThis is a very different kind of place,ʺ explained the director of Alliance, a group home for incarcerated teen mothers. It was a bright morning in the winter of 1992, and Marlene was taking me on my first tour of the facility. ʺItʹs not like the others youʹve seen,ʺ she continued. ʺThose places donʹt give women what they need to lead productive lives. They just trap them in the system. We step in to get them out.ʺ As Marlene spoke, I looked around and was struck by what I saw. Indeed, it bore little resemblance to other criminal-justice institutions: in...

  5. PART I IN A STATE OF DEPENDENCE

    • ONE Limited Government: TRAINING WOMEN WHAT TO NEED
      (pp. 29-56)

      ʺWho can tell me what ʹlimited governmentʹ means?ʺ Rachel Brennan asked the group of teen mothers gathered in her small, makeshift classroom. The question was met with blank, uninterested stares, so she followed up: ʺWell, you should know what it means since itʹs the basis of our system of government. Iʹll give you a hint.ʺ Rachel walked to the board and wrote two words,dictatorshipandanarchy, with a space in between them. She explained that the former was a system of too much government, the latter of no government. But there was an alternative. ʺDemocracy is in the middle,ʺ...

    • TWO Deconstructing Dependency: NEEDS, RIGHTS, AND THE STRUGGLE FOR ENTITLEMENT
      (pp. 57-85)

      ʺWhoʹs in charge here?ʺ Jamika asked as she barged into a closed-door staff meeting. Stunned by her flagrant violation of a key house rule, everyone fell silent. ʺI said I want to know who is in charge,ʺ Jamika continued. ʺI hate this place and I want to talk to the head.ʺ Director Marlene reminded Jamika that there was not one person in charge at Alliance and instructed her to go to her room to cool off. ʺI need someone to help me,ʺ Jamika pleaded, with tears streaming down her face. If no one would help her, she wanted to leave—...

    • THREE Hybrid States and Government from a Distance
      (pp. 86-112)

      Throughout the early 1990s, as the women at Alliance remained locked in battles over dependency, the foundations upon which the institution rested began to shift. While the corresponding tremors reverberated through the facility, the staff seemed unaware of the depth of the quakes they were experiencing—they never spoke of them in meetings or strategy sessions. With so much time spent on crisis management, they had little opportunity to reflect on the big picture. Even if they had had time to reflect, it is unclear whether the cracks and fissures surrounding them would have been visible from where they stood....

  6. PART II IN A STATE OF RECOVERY

    • FOUR State Therapeutics: TRAINING WOMEN WHAT TO WANT
      (pp. 115-149)

      It was a big day at Visions. The third-floor meeting room was filled to capacity, with more than thirty staff members and visitors sitting in front of a makeshift stage. They watched as the inmates of Visions performed readings and skits they had prepared with two local artists. Funded by a large public radio station, the artists had held classes during the summer of 2004 to help the inmates find their ʺvoicesʺ and perform their art. One after the other, women rose to recite poems and stories, most of which dealt with personal pain and turmoil. Each reading was more...

    • FIVE The Empowerment Myth: SOCIAL VULNERABILITY AS PERSONAL PATHOLOGY
      (pp. 150-177)

      On a summer afternoon, a group of inmates gathered in Visionsʹs art room for the first meeting of one of my creative-writing classes. It was the third such course I had offered at Visions, so I began with a writing exercise that worked with the other groups: I asked the women to list ten emotions or sentiments, which I then wrote on the blackboard. ʺSorrow,ʺ Rosa yelled. ʺGrief, fear, and depression,ʺ Chanel added. ʺNo, youʹve got to put anxiety and frustration at the top,ʺ Melissa demanded. ʺNo way,ʺ Claire interjected. ʺGuilt and regret should be up there.ʺ The list concluded...

    • SIX The Enemies Within: FIGHTING THE SISTERS AND NUMBING THE SELF
      (pp. 178-206)

      Whenever I entered through Visionsʹs large, steel doors, I never knew what awaited me. More often than not, it was some sort of conflict or crisis. The facility always seemed to be in turmoil: fights between the staff and inmates were commonplace, as were facility-wide breakdowns and freezes. Rarely a day went by when there was not an emergency to be managed or a problem to be resolved. Sometimes it felt like the daily rhythm of the facility revolved around such crises; they energized and charged both the inmates and staff.¹ The inmates were tough, outspoken women; when something disturbed...

  7. Conclusion: STATES OF DISENTITLEMENT AND THE THERAPEUTICS OF NEOLIBERALISM
    (pp. 207-226)

    The ethnographic story I told in this book centered on a series of ʺhowʺ questions: How were women governed in the two penal institutions, Alliance and Visions, at two moments in time? How did those in charge of these facilities create narratives to relay their interpretation of inmatesʹ problems? How did these narratives set boundaries around the areas of womenʹs lives in need of regulation? How did these narratives transform into concrete institutional practices and relationships? In addressing these questions, I tried to keep my own narrative as close as possible to the lived experiences of the women in these...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 227-262)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 263-278)
  10. Index
    (pp. 279-287)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 288-288)