Sociology Index


Penology is the study of the treatment and punishment of criminal offenders. Penology is now included within criminology.

Penology, from Latin poena for punishment, comprises penitentiary science concerned with the processes devised and adopted for the punishment, repression, and prevention of crime, and the treatment of prisoners. Penology is the branch of knowledge that deals with the prevention and punishment of crime and within the penal system.

Penology and Social Control: An Empirical Assessment
Over the past several decades, a series of important theoretical studies of penal control have appeared in the literature. Prominent examples include Cohen’s 1985 Visions of Control, Feeley and Simon’s 1992 “The New Penology” and Garland’s 2001 The Culture of Control.

These studies have provided probing, imaginative and nuanced explanations of what the authors believe to be “given;” namely, that over the past several decades there has occurred ever changing, more pervasive and rapidly escalating penal control. Notably absent from this theoretical literature has been compelling empirical evidence. Rather, by providing support for their arguments, the studies have relied upon published materials that have been highly selective, incomplete and discontinuous. This study addresses this empirical deficiency in the penal control literature. The primary empirical question addressed is what has occurred with U.S. penal control over the past 36 years? To answer this question, the study employs data reflecting annual trends in U.S. rates of incapacitation or incarceration and other forms of community penal strategies from 1970 to 2006. - Blomberg, Tom., Bales, William, Mann, Karen.- AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CRIMINOLOGY.

Privatization and New Penology: How Profit Shapes Punishment in the Public Prison - McCorkel Jill. - Paper presented at the annual meeting of the AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CRIMINOLOGY
Abstract: Research on the privatization of punishment has focused almost exclusively on the emergence of private prisons—prisons that are designed, managed, and operated by private companies and funded through contracts with federal, state, and local governments. Privatization, however, is a far broader phenomenon than this. Private companies are increasingly present in public prisons, providing a large array of services and technologies. This ethnographic study documents the impact of private vendors on the public prison, with a particular focus on how privatization changed both the logic and practice of punishment, and manufactured demand for new forms of social control.

GPS-Electronic Monitoring and Contemporary Penology: A Case Study of US GPS-Electronic Monitoring Programmes - Ryan Cotter, Willem De Lint
The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 48, Issue 1, pp. 76-87, February 2009
Abstract: Criminologists have noted a significant reorientation of criminal justice policy. Initially this reorientation was most dramatically articulated by Feeley and Simon (1992), who suggested that penality has shifted from the modern to new penology. Criticisms of the binary modern and new penology model has led to the contemporary understanding of penality through a threefold model of: punishment-punitive, rehabilitative-humanistic and managerial-surveillant discourses. This research represents an empirically-based attempt to locate GPS-electronic monitoring within this threefold model.

The Impact of the "New Penology" on intensive supervised probation ISP - Gerald J. Bayens, Michael W. Manske, John Ortiz Smykla, Criminal Justice Review, Vol. 23, No. 1, (1998)
This article provides a critique of Feeley and Simon's claim (1992) that a new transformation in penology is emerging in the United States, vis-a-vis McCorkle and Crank's position (1996) that the transformation is more rhetoric than reality. Data were collected for a 60-day study period, initially to assess intensive supervised probation (ISP) workloads as well as the attitudes of criminal justice work groups toward ISP in "Midwestern County." Data analysis focused on the amount of supervision time, the number of face-to-face contacts, the time spent performing a supervision activity, and the number of drug tests carried out across four levels of offender risk. It was found that in no case did the high-supervision group receive the highest amount of supervision resources per capita. We offer a caveat, however, in terms of risk assessment and of the nature and quality of an ISP officer's supervision.

Syllabus - CCJ 5309 Penology, FSU School of Criminology, Dr. Cecil Greek

Required Texts:

Blomberg, Thomas and Stanley Cohen (eds.). (2003). Punishment and social control. (2nd edition). NY:Aldine de Gruyter.

Blomberg, Thomas and Karol Lucken. (2000). American penology. NY:Aldine de Gruyter.

Garland, David. (2001). The culture of control. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Garland, David. (1990). Punishment and modern society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Johnson, Robert. (2002). Hard time: Understanding and reforming the prison. (3rd edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Latessa, Edward et al (eds.). (2005). Correctional contexts: Contemporary and classical readings. (3rd edition). Los Angeles: Roxbury. ISBN: 1931719594

Rothman, David. (1990). The discovery of the asylum. (revised edition). NY:Aldine de Gruyter.

Course Overview:

As with all social institutions, one of the best ways to approach an understanding of how we got to our current situation is through historical review of past practices leading up to the present. This is certainly the case with our society’s decision that the prototypical form of punishment for criminal offenders ought to be incarceration in a penal facility.

Thus, the first part of the course will focus on the historical constellation of factors that led to the adoption and eventual acceptance of prisons as the American way of punishment. However, once the prison model was adopted, it did not remain stagnant. Each generation of reformers and penologists offered ways to improve the outcome of inmates’ prison experiences. Ideas about sentencing, optimal prison regimes and “treatment” changed as a result.

An important theoretical trend to analyze is what these changes implied about our society’s overall vision of how to socially control deviant individuals and populations. David Garland has best analyzed these changes. The course will focus on the major models developed in the “sociology of punishment,” up to and including our current system’s move toward “post-modern” punishment regimes.

The second half of the course will discuss some of the major critical issues within contemporary correctional systems. These topics include those who live and work within correctional settings. Inmate subcultures have been of interest to criminologists since the mid-20th century. On the other hand, the experiences of correctional staff has only more recently been subjected to penological study. Nevertheless, how correctional staff maintain order without being seen as legitimate power holders by inmates remains an important sociological question. As total control is not possible (except in supermax type facilities), how inmates and correctional staff interact to maintain order is an important empirical area of study.

As the United States is one of the few modern nations to retain the death penalty, we will discuss several issues related to its contemporary use. Included will be subtopics such as false convictions, racial imbalance in its usage and life on death row.

The long standing debates about the functions of prisons include considerable discussion of whether prisons can “cure” crime. In particular, various treatment modalities have been created and utilized in hopes of reducing recidivism. The current ethos is anti-treatment, pro-punishment; nevertheless, treatment programs, broadly defined, continue within most correctional systems.

Since the 1960s, American correctional institutions have been an arena no longer considered “hands off” to inmates’ Constitutional rights. The course will cover the impact of opening our correctional institutions to the courts, current inmates’ rights and the continuing struggle for legal authority.

Another product of the 1960s was the massive expansion of community corrections as an alternative to prison. While first argued for from anti-labeling and anti-stigmatization perspectives, the current rationale for community corrections comes from the more crime-control oriented intermediate sanctions movement. Is this movement a genuine alternative to prison or further example of net widening?

The course will conclude with a discussion of where we go from here. Will the future bring greater or lesser use of incarceration? Will treatment become more widely supported again? Will simple economics lead to greater use of community options? What are the future technologies that will be employed in 21st Century social control?