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June 19, 2022

More highlights from lots of great new Inquest essays

I flagged a number of great pieces from Inquest in a number of prior posts (recent examples here and here).  Inquest, "a decarceral brainstorm," keeps churning out great new must-read essays, and I am not sure how anyone can keep up with all the great content.  Here are just a few of the recent pieces worth checking out with an emphasis on sentencing and corrections topics:

By Alan Dettlaff, "End Carceral Social Work: To stay true to their professed values, social workers must wholly disavow and remove themselves from systems of harm."

By Lynne Haney, "Making Men Pay: For incarcerated fathers, child-support and related debt create their own feedback loops of disadvantage and punishment."

By Brad Haywood, "Busting the Myth: Many progressive prosecutors promised bold change. In Virginia and elsewhere, reformers are realizing that they’re still actors in the same machinery of injustice."

By Aziz Huq, "After the Backlash: Understanding the democratic appeal of retrenchment and reaction to movements for racial justice has never been more urgent." 

June 19, 2022 at 10:36 PM | Permalink


I have long found the inability of incarcerated men to pay their child support obligations to be a serious unaddressed issue in the criminal justice system. Many men complete their sentences and emerge back into the free world owing tens of thousands of dollars of unpaid child support, which stacked up while they were incarcerated. This issue would be substantially ameliorated if incarcerated men were paid even minimum wage for their prison labors; then they could make payments while incarcerated and wouldn't owe so much (if anything) upon release. Over the years, several Federal Judges have rebuffed the idea that the Federal minimum wage laws should apply to the jail and prison labors of inmates. This is an interesting issue because the Federal wage and hour laws contain a specific list of categories that are excluded from application of the laws, and jail and prison labor are not on the list that Congress wrote. In part this practice is based upon the ancient theory that CONVICTED jail and prison inmates (but not pre-trial detainees, who cannot legally be forced to work)are slaves of the state. Notably, the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery, contains a specific exception for convicted felons. Congress and the President could easily fix this problem if they had the desire and will to do so.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Jun 20, 2022 8:21:35 AM

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