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Families and the Moral Economy of Incarceration

Braman, Donald
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In Criminal Justice: Retribution vs. Restoration. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work 23(1/2): 27-50.

The experiences of families of prisoners barely register in contemporary debates over criminal sanctions. But the accounts of families of prisoners demonstrate that mass incarceration does far more than punish and deter. By pitting the moral and economic interests of families against one another, it erodes the fundamental norms of social life itself. As family members are pressed hard to withdraw their care and concern from one another, the effect is more than the impoverishment of individuals: As over-incarceration increases the costs of caring relationships, the loss becomes a moral one and, in time, we impoverish our culture as well. Author’s abstract.


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