chapter  20
11 Pages

Neoliberalism and the politics of imprisonment

WithSappho Xenakis, Leonidas K. Cheliotis

This chapter provides an overview of the criminological debates that have flourished in recent years concerning the significance and validity of the notion of "neoliberal penality". It acknowledges the political economy forebears of neoliberal penality scholarship, before critically reviewing some of the major qualifications and lines of critique that have been raised in response. The chapter addresses challenges that have been expressed regarding: the accuracy and implications of the claim that there is a disconnect between crime and incarceration; and whether trends in economic regulation and welfare provision have been interpreted correctly. Although, the penal efficacy attributed to neoliberalism has been questioned or at least qualified from a range of analytic angles, a priori assumptions regarding the existence and specific elements of neoliberalism as such have usually been taken at face value. Other scholarship on neoliberal penality has focused on privatization trends in the provision of imprisonment, focusing particularly but not exclusively on United States-based developments.