October 19, 2014

Why Private Prisons Do Not Save Money

This presentation, which looks at the overhead costs of private prisons, was done in 2008 and subsequently became a chapter in Punishment for Sale (co-authored with Donna Selman). At that time, Dana Radatz was my graduate assistant who was very helpful in collecting the data and organizing it in a meaningful way.

Why Private Prisons Do Not Save Money: Overhead Costs and Executive Pay

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Prison Privatization in US and Japan (2014 presentation and information on Shimane Asahi Rehabilitation Center - a Japanese high-tech, public-private partnership)

The problems with private prisons (2011 and 2013 presentations) 

Punishment for Sale book - publisher: Rowman and Littlefield ~ Amazon ~ more info from this blog

September 15, 2014

Women's Studies or Gender Studies

I received this email from a student about a class assignment:

"We have to ask 3 faculty members to briefly describe the relationship between women's studies and gender studies... Whether or not they're the same, similar, and/or different. Just something short and sweet would be awesome!"

My response:

Interesting question.

To me, women's studies focuses on looking at women's experiences and taking their reality (say, the level of harassment and violence) seriously. It then needs to explain why this experience gets erased and the implications of taking this reality seriously. Because men oppress, I can see that there is some place for critical studies of men and masculinity within women's studies, but gender studies seems more obviously to include the study of masculinity. Also, at least some of the change that men should do is for themselves and to reduce the violence against other men - and I'm not sure that women's studies is the appropriate disciplinary frame. Changes in how I enact masculinity may have an effect on women, but they may also be done to lead a more fulfilling and creative life. To my mind, masculinity is relevant to both those issues, but it isn't women's studies.

"Short version: Yes, women have been silenced and excluded, but still, it isn't always about them -- so we need gender studies, even if women's studies is the biggest piece of that." 

Mass salmonella poisoning by the Peanut Corporation of America [UPDATED]

When nine people died and 4,000 products were recalled because of salmonella in peanuts, my years of writing and teaching about white collar crime told me there was significant wrongdoing here. Unfortunately, media did not really put together a long form narrative, so I have put this together over time with some help and encouragement.

The piece below is an excerpt from a longer journal article I'm working on. Between this background piece, the Congressional hearings, and coverage from Food Safety News, readers should be able to find as much info as they want. 

UPDATE: The jury has convicted the ringleaders at PCA and found them guilty on many counts, which is good and what they deserved. News stories tend to have a quote about how this will send a message to other food producers. I think the message is more subtle because the indictment was mostly about fraud against Kellogg's and other corporations; the nine people who died were not mentioned in the indictment or at trial. I think the take away is that if you are a small food producer, don't screw with Fortune 500 companies. Perhaps I am cynical, but would the criminal charges have happened and would they have been found guilty of crimes if they had sold directly to the public and killed nine, hospitalized 166 and officially sickened 714?

[Download a pdf here]

Crimes of the Peanut Corporation of America: Mass salmonella poisoning, 2008-9

August 02, 2014

Why Inequality Matters for Criminology and Criminal Justice

I am pleased to have had the opportunity to present at the ISA's World Congress of Sociology in Yokohama, Japan in July. This presentation builds on and updates some earlier ones (listed in the RELATED section below). 


The presenter, a co-author of The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, will focus on economic inequality, which receives less attention than race or gender. This paper will start by  providing an overview of economic inequality in several developed nations before discussing several ways to conceptualize the inequality between natural and corporate persons. Next, the presentation will summarize the links between inequality and crimes of the poor as well as crimes of the rich, following Braithwaite’s formulation that inequality worsens crimes of need and crimes of greed. The impact of inequality on each stage of the criminal justice system will then be reviewed. Law making is influenced by lobbying. Policing means war on crimes done by the poor and zero tolerance, but deregulation for corporations. Judicial processing and outcomes are heavily influenced by quality of legal assistance and resources. By sentencing, the wealthy and corporations who have harmed workers, consumers and communities have been largely weeded out; it is the poor who get sentenced to prison, reinforcing the belief that they are the most dangerous. The conclusion highlights the importance of ideology in minimizing concern about inequality and its effect on justice.


Why Inequality Matters for Criminology and Criminal Justice

Download .pdf of presentation (2MB)

Download .pptx presentation (5MB)


Manifestations of Poverty (longer lecture for EMU Honors College - 2013)

Criminology Needs More Class: Inequality, Corporate Persons and an Impoverished Discipline (#occupy)

The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Inequality, Corporate Power and Crime(Sidore lecture at Plymouth State)

June 06, 2014

We Need A Post-Warehouse Prison: Learning from Shimane Asahi Rehabilitation Center

"Interesting" is the comment I hear most frequently when presenting this new line of research. That's exactly what I said when I came across it and what motivated me to explore further this high-tech, public private partnership prison/rehabilitation center that strives to be a good partner to the community. Their literature mentions the idea of creating "prisons the public could understand and support." 

I've continued to study Shimane Asahi Rehabilitation Center because it is also important. In working to create what they call a model prison for the next 50 years, the Japanese studied privatization and rehabilitation; they went through the literature to find "what works" and traveled extensively to learn about programs. 

The US has a bloated system of warehouse prisons that are the model for no one in the world. But we are not having a discussion about a new model, a model for the next 50 years - a post-warehouse prison.  We need to. The idea is not to copy what Japan did, but to recognize the need for and wisdom of such an effort, and to learn from their experience. Unfortunately, the main conversation is about privatization, which means trying to deliver the current warehouse prison system more cheaply and further entrenching not just a prison-industrial complex, but a warehouse prison-industrial complex.

This post lays out what I have done so far: a journal article, a TEDxEMU talk, and two presentations  that include/build on my prison privatization work. There's also a request for help translating some additional information about Shimane Asahi.


"A Model Prison for the next 50 years": The high-tech, public-private Shimane Asahi Rehabilitation Center" Justice Policy Journal v11#1 2014 (available free online - pdf)

ABSTRACT: The declining incarceration rate in America provides an opportunity to rethink the quality of prisons and ask: If you were told that your neighbors were newly released prisoners, what kind of institution would you want them to have served time in? One positive model of prison is a high-tech, public-private partnership prison that embraces rehabilitation, reentry and restorative justice – and that also strives to have the local community as a partner. The article reports on a visit to Shimane Asahi rehabilitation center in Japan. It provides background on the prison and Japan’s experiment with privatizing “social infrastructure.” The article then describes the involvement of the private sector and the infusion of technology, including tracking, scanners, and automated food delivery. Next, it provides an overview of numerous educational, therapeutic, and vocational programs. Finally, it discusses how the prison has a center for community engagement and makes many efforts to utilize the resources of the local region.


TEDxEMU: Thoughts from a day in a Japanese Prison

I actually did this talk before finishing the article, so it is not as sharp as how I would do it now. But I enjoyed the challenge of the time limit and trying to provide an inspiring direction. (12 minutes)


The University of Michigan's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute did a series of talks in 2014 on public-private partnerships, and I was invited to present on private prisons. The first half of this talk outlines the importance of getting the profit motive situated correctly with punishments, reviews the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex and (the problems with) private prisons. The second part reviews what Japan did after studying our system: Their law created partnerships for rehabilitation centers, not prisons. The warden and his deputies are government employees who oversee a number of private sector contractors. It also includes some of the key info from the journal article noted above, with some pictures and graphics. I was pleased how this came out. 

Private Prisons in the US and Japan: Unleashing the profit Motive in Punishment and Rehabilitation

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Download .pptx presentation (7MB)


I was also invited to be the keynote speaker for a Prison Awareness week sponsored by the University of Toledo's Law and Social Thought, and also by Toledoans for Prison Awareness. (Thanks to Alexandra Scarborough for the invite and arrangements.) This presentation has many of the same slides as the Osher lecture, but it is reshuffled and has more of an emphasis on prison reform. 

Thinking About A Post Warehouse Prison

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Download .pptx presentation (8MB)

WGTE recorded the event for knowledgestream.org and the video is here. 



Shimane Asahi celebrated its 5th anniversary by having a symposium that presented evaluation results and updates on programs. They put those presentations together into a publication that I have a copy of, but I could use some help translating it from Japanese. (Here is the Table of Contents.) There are also two Japanese books on Shimane Asahi and would like to know more about what is in them. 

If you would be interested in translating or helping to underwrite some of the translation efforts, please contact me through the information on my website



Shimane Asahi website (English)

The problems with private prisons (2011 and 2013 presentations)

Why Private Prisons Do Not Save Money (2008)


June 05, 2014

Manifestations of Poverty (lecture): The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison

The Honors College at EMU held a series of lectures this past year under the theme of 'Manifestations of Poverty.' I had the privilege of presenting the first lecture, highlighting the justice - and criminal justice - issues surrounding poverty and inequality. Part one of this lecture looks at various measures of inequality in income and wealth, including how corporate 'persons' factor in. Part two looks at how inequality impacts criminology and criminal justice. The lecture makes extensive use of Occupy Wall St posters (via occuprint.org).

The presentation is embedded below, followed by links for the .pdf, .pptx and the video via iTunes university. This builds on a few earlier lectures that are linked to under the 'related' heading. 

Manifestations of Poverty: The Rich get Richer and the Poor Get Prison


Download .pdf of presentation (2MB)

Download .pptx of presentation (8MB - 35 slides)

The talk is available on iTunes: Part 1 (my introduction starts at 6 minutes in) and  Part 2 (links will open up in iTunes).


Why Inequality Matters for Criminology & Criminal Justice (World Congress of Sociology presentation, 2014)

Manifestations of Poverty (longer presentation for EMU Honors College, 2013)

Criminology Needs More Class: Inequality, Corporate Persons and an Impoverished Discipline (#occupy)

The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Inequality, Corporate Power and Crime (Sidore lecture at Plymouth State)

June 03, 2014

Understanding Domestic Violence

Last semester, a colleague invited me to do a presentation on Domestic Violence for her into to women and gender studies class. It was a good opportunity to draw on my teaching, service on the board of SafeHouse, and interest in art by survivors of domestic violence to create a presentation.

Enjoy and feel free to use it if you think it will be useful. It covers some of the basics and I hope to add to it over the long run. 

Understanding Domestic Violence: Why You Should Care, What You Should Know and How to Help



Download .pdf of presentation (3MB)

Download original .pptx files  (24.6MB)



Understanding Domestic Violence: Why should medical students care, what should they know and do