The “punitive turn” describes the penalizing and disciplinary focus the United States has implemented in regulating problem populations since the late 1970s. This period has welcomed the era of mass incarceration in which the US penal population has exploded to levels not seen anywhere else in the world. The rise in the use of prisons and jails has been accompanied by the retrenchment of the welfare state, attacks on affirmative action policies, continued segregation in education and housing, and a growing gap between the rich and the poor. All of these have essentially erased the gains made by the Civil Rights Movement and the radical activists of the 1960s and 1970s. This essay makes the case that observers of the punitive turn must include the injustices of immigration control efforts in justice studies debates. The militarization of the border, the policing of immigrant communities, and the rapid rise in the use of immigration detention centers all fall in line with the trends of the punitive turn. For progress to be made on alleviating the hardships brought by current immigration policies, educators, community organizations, and student activists must all struggle to include immigration in battles to improve lives of all oppressed populations.
"Immigration Control and the Punitive Turn,"
Themis: Research Journal of Justice Studies and Forensic Science:
Vol. 2, Article 1.
Available at: http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/themis/vol2/iss1/1