Processes of Legitimizing the Institutional Use of Violence in Jails and Prisons

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Mark STOBBE, Keyano College, Canada
Examinations of violence in jails and prisons usually focuses on instances in which violence by either inmates or correctional officials engage in violence deemed to be inappropriate, illegitimate, illegal or excessive. Guided by Collin’s micro-process analysis of violence and Weberian concepts of legitimacy, this paper analyses an incident in which twenty-four secure custody inmates in a Canadian provincial corrections facility were subjected to violence in the form of being exposed to tear gas in response to a non-violent protest by one inmate. This exercise of institutionally sanctioned violence remained uncontroversial since the utilization of institutionally sanctioned violence was deemed legitimate by everyone involved. The incident is explored to identify conditions in which the state’s use of violence remains monopolistic and legitimate.