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November 09, 2006

Catching Up, Moving On (private prisons, tattoos and televised executions)

From the rate of posting here, you would think I've gone into hibernation or disappeared. But it has actually been quite busy, so I'll be using this to catch up on some of this activity - which also sets the agenda for the near future.

First, the good news: the Class, Race, Gender & Crime book is now out. I received my copies just a day before my birthday and thought they looked good. It was also nice to see them on display at the American Society of Criminology conference last week in LA. [More on that in a minute.]

The book still isn't listed on amazon.com, but the publisher has it available for a very reasonable price: $25.46 for a 344 page book. Please check it out. [Makes a great Christmas gift!]

Private Prisons 

To fill the hole left by the completed book, I'll be starting another one with my EMU colleague Donna Selman-Killingbeck. We're putting together our interest in private prisons and starting to work on Punishment for Sale. The proposal is done - thanks to a push to have it ready before the conference - and we've been recommended to an editorial board for a contract. More on this when we have the official word - in the meantime, check out the 'crime pays' resources at PaulsJusticePage.

Tattoos 

At the criminology conference, I was second author on a paper about gender and tattoos. My co-author did a fine job presenting and an even better job answering questions. Now that we've got the data turned into a presentation, we'll be working on turning it into a paper for a journal. Here's the title and official abstract:

Gender and the Body Canvas: Analyzing the Portrayal of Tattooed Women on Educational Television Programs

Desiré J.M. Anastasia and Paul Leighton

Tattooing has been thought of as the primitive markings of savages, the mark of a criminal, gang member, or prisoner, the subversive statement of a rebellious and often despised lower class, to an increasingly respected artistic skill and symbol of personal freedom.  Despite the commercial growth tattooing has experienced, it continues to be a source of mixed social evaluation, especially along the lines of gender. The present study aims to add to the knowledge on this topic by analyzing the portrayal of tattooed persons in the various ‘educational’ programs on body art and modification produced by media like The Learning Channel, The History Channel, and The National Geographic Channel.  Utilizing a form of qualitative media analysis, six programs were examined to determine (1) if there were any noticeable biases in the portrayal of tattooed women and men (2) what subjects or themes were related to discussions of women and gender – and where was there silence (3) and additional analyses from academic literature and inside information.  Emerging themes include: what tattoos mean, reasons for getting tattooed, reasons for getting tattoos removed, the pain involved with getting or removing a tattoo, the body, and meanings of beauty.

For those who are interested in this topic, I'm an enthusiastic reader of the needled blog - "high brow for the underground." Marisa DiMattia is a tattooed lawyer who spotlights great artists and raises issues like emplyment discrimination and copyright infringement.

Televised Executions

In March of 2007, the other criminology conference - the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) - meets in Seattle and I'll be presenting a paper on televising McVeigh's execution (check out the 'featured panels' here). I've written previously on televising executions, which caught my attention when I was a graduate assistant for Rob Johnson and helping on Death Work: A Study of the Modern Execution Process. At the same time, I was reading Neil Postman's brilliant Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in an Age of Show Business.

The original paper and the resources I've collected are popular parts of PaulsJusticePage, and this paper represents a chance to update the work. You might remember that McVeigh's execution was covered by closed-circuit TV broadcast to Oklahoma City so survivors and victim's families could watch. There was a suit to make the feed more available, and McVeigh supported webcasting the execution (he was in favor of scrutiny of goverment actions). The suit failed, and a court upheld the law prohibiting making a photographic recording of an execution (supposedly, the execution went live to Oklahoma, but no one made a recording of it, so the law was not violated). I've done a short critique of Entertainment Network v Lappin that will be incorporated in the new paper.   

Watch for a little more activity here now.  

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