Capricious Governance: Prisons, Security, and the Fluidity of Rules

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 10:44
Oral Presentation
Sandra BUCERIUS, University of Alberta, Canada
Kevin HAGGERTY, University of Alberta, Canada
In the minds of outsiders, prisons vacillate between visions of regimented order and anarchic disorder. The place of rules in prison sits at the fulcrum between these two visions of regulation. This paper draws from preliminary findings of the ‘Alberta Prison Project’ - a large qualitative study of 4 provincial prisons in Canada which to date has interviewed approximately 500 inmates and 100 correctional officers about prison life. In this presentation, we detail the variability in how the abundant rules in prison are often enforced (or not), something that results in a regime of what we refer to as ‘capricious governance.’ In particular, we draw upon our interview and observational data to detail what this looks like in practice, focusing on inmate perceptions, how inmates manage this ambiguity, and also detail some of the reason for this situation as understood by correctional officers.