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The toughest beat: Politics, punishment, and the prison officers union in California.

Page, Joshua
June 4, 2015

Source: (2011) New York: Oxford University Press.

My thesis is that the prison boom and related developments in the second half of the twentieth century produce the California Correctional Peace Officers Association — or rather, created a fertile environment that facilitated the union’s remarkable ascent. As it grew and became a formidable political force, the union influenced the nature, purpose, and scope of imprisonment and associated functions in California. In addition to shaping policies, helped redefine penal expertise, and empowered actors that supported its interests and views on criminal punishment (most notably, like-minded crime victim organisations) while marginalizing those with competing perspectives. The CCPOA, in short, worked to shape the penal landscape in its own image as part of its unionization strategy. A major unintended consequence of the rapid, astronomical increase of the penal population, then, was the growth and empowerment of interest groups that now frustrate efforts to seriously roll back hyperincarceration, the phenomena that facilitated their growth into major political players in the first place. (excerpt)


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