Cents and sensibility: A case study of corrections reform in Kansas and Michigan


The analytical framework developed by the “new penology” describes the content of corrections reform as relatively homogenous, largely driven by forces internal to corrections departments. This article examines the ongoing process of penal reform in the correctional systems of Kansas and Michigan over the last decade and argues that the new penology's analytical framework has the potential to obscure the relationship between penal practices and their immediate institutional environment. Using case studies of corrections reform in Kansas and Michigan, this article shows that the nature and scope of reforms in both states were determined not just by internal considerations and adaptations, but by a number of forces operating outside the penal bureaucracy including the interests of external actors, economic crises, and high profile events. These external forces both constrained and encouraged correctional reforms and led to evolving reform rationales that often conflicted with the practices of the new penology.

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Journal of Criminal Justice