The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

4161.0: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 12:50 PM

Abstract #74206

Soft Time in a Hard Place

Denis Wood, PhD, 3205 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27607-5438, 919-839-8303,

With one in eight adults incarcerated in this country, prisons long ago ceased to occupy marginal positions in American society. As an ever increasing number of “ordinary” Americans staff and run the ever increasing number of prisons being built, the difference between those who work in the prison system and those who are serving time within it becomes indistinguishable. Over the 27 months during which I was locked up in a mix of prison settings, not only was I never subjected to any overt violence, on only one occasion was I a witness to it. Far from spending over two years living in fear, I spent that time in as comfortable and secure an environment as I have ever experienced. My relationships with my fellow prisoners, far from being adversarial or hostile, were a continual source of support and camaraderie. As a professor and educator, I was humbled to find that the men with whom I "did time" treated me with the same respect and esteem I had come to enjoy, indeed expect, from the students I taught. The existence of violence and fear in prisons is not materially different from the violence and fear that permeates our homes, streets, schools, the workplace, the military, and other settings in which non-carceral life unfolds. But it is on the street where the fear of prison wreaks its violence by insisting on the viability of punishment rather than, say, employment and education - as a means of addressing social problems.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Violence Prevention, Jails and Prisons

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Structural Violence and The Culture of Fear

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA