Prison data collection is a labyrinthine infrastructure. This article engages with debates around the political potentials and limitations of transparency as a form of “accountability,” specifically as it relates to carceral management and data gathering. We examine the use of OASys, a widely used risk assessment tool in the British prison system, in order to demonstrate how transparency operates as a means of legitimating prison data collection and ensuing penal management. Prisoner options to resist their file, or “data double,” in this context are considered and the decisive role of OASys as an immediately operationalized technical structure is outlined. We demonstrate that the political and managerial logics that underpin OASys heavily shape and structurally limit the terrain on which any individual might challenge their carceral administration. Ultimately, we argue that, in this context, transparency itself forecloses broader notions of radical and systemic change by inviting individuals into the creation of their own data double, and thus the legitimation of their own penal management and the forms of procedural justice offered by the prison estate. Finally, implications from this case for broader debates about transparency-as-accountability are explored.
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Hudson, Becka and Tomas Percival.
"Carceral Data: The Limits of Transparency-as-Accountability in Prison Risk Data."
Secrecy and Society
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