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American Society of Criminology 2017 CRIMVOL Events

The penal voluntary sector, and the relationships between crime, punishment and charity are more topical than ever before. Charities have a long history of involvement in criminal justice, but countries around the world have restructured social welfare services in recent decades, moving away from unified public services and towards quasi-markets. Voluntary organisations and private companies have been heavily implicated in this restructuring, being prominent in policy reforms in, e.g. Australia, England and the USA. These reforms have created important new models of service delivery (e.g. payment by results) and governance which are ill-understood. Surprisingly little is known about the penal voluntary sector, which remains a descriptive rather than theoretically rigorous concept.

CRIMVOL organised 4 thematic panels at the 2017 American Society of Criminology annual conference in Philadelphia. These panels included an author meets critics session for The Penal Voluntary Sector with 4 critics from US universities, and Dr Philippa Tomczak and Dr David Thompson presented their new open access Theoretical Criminology article Inclusionary control? Theorizing the effects of penal voluntary organizations’ work as part of the thematic panels. CRIMVOL early career researcher Melissa Pepper (University of Surrey) also presented her research on policing volunteers as part of a thematic panel. We enjoyed a CRIMVOL reception and were pleased that many CRIMVOL members also attended our Sheffield Centre for Criminological Research reception at the main conference. Early career research steering group members Samantha McAleese (Carleton University, Canada) and Melissa Pepper attended all the CRIMVOL events and produced an event report summarising the activities and discussions.

Wednesday 15th November 2017: 4 panels

Philippa at the ASC1. The Penal Voluntary Sector: Author Meets Critics

This panel is an author meets critics session for Dr Philippa Tomczak's monograph The Penal Voluntary Sector (winner of the 2017 British Society of Criminology Book Prize).

Critics are:

  • Dr Deborah Jump (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
  • Dr Tim Goddard (Florida International University, USA)
  • Dr Nicole Kaufman (Ohio University, USA)
  • Dr Reuben Miller (University of Chicago, USA)
  • Dr Randy Myers (Old Dominion University, USA)
  • Prof Shadd Maruna (University of Manchester, UK)

2. The Penal Voluntary Sector: Thematic Panel A

Emma Hughes, California State University, Fresno/ USA
Outside In: Voluntary Sector Involvement within Prisons in England, California, and Uganda
Drawing on qualitative research, this paper will examine and compare the impact of volunteers and non-profit organizations working to expand programing and rehabilitative opportunities in three distinct settings. A range of programs will be considered and relevant policies explored. The effect of such programming on incarcerated participants and on community-based volunteers will be addressed. The consequences for prison culture, and for the promotion of desistance, will be assessed.

Reuben Miller, University of Chicago/USA
A Matter of Carceral Citizenship
The growing literature on mass incarceration has examined the emergence, causes and consequences of criminal justice expansion on and within the social body. Among the most productive work in this area, scholars have documented the severity and impact of criminal justice contact on a large and growing segment of the population, raising questions about the character of U.S. democracy. Arguing forcefully that mass incarceration has transformed American citizenship, these scholars have shown how formal processes of legal exclusion coupled with ubiquitous criminal justice contact has relegated the largely black poor targets of the carceral state to a kind of second class citizenship. Building upon and extending this work, we argue that carceral expansion has not just resulted in the relegation of the black poor to second class citizenship, but the emergence of an alternate form of political membership—what we call carceral citizenship. This article delineates the features of carceral citizenship, and discusses its implications for how we understand the role, force and consequence of the state in the lives of the raced and criminalized poor.

Randolph R. Myers, Old Dominion University/USA; Kaitlyn J. Robison, Old Dominion University/USA; Tim Goddard, Florida International University/USA
Expanding and Subverting the Carceral Net through the Voluntary Sector: The Case of US Youth Justice
Recent work in the sociology of punishment literature has called attention to how the state punishes through non-punitive means, forming what Beckett and Murakawa call the ‘carceral shadow state.’ This paper situates the ‘carceral shadow state’ within the community-based voluntary sector and marketization of punishment and service provisions under neoliberalism. In the case of US youth justice specifically, through partnerships with voluntary community-based organizations, the carceral state extends the state’s ability to punish and control marginal youth through non-criminal punishments. But the partnerships that arise out of this privatized arrangement also make possible various points of resistance to this carceral control, as progressive and critical community groups that compete (often successfully) to serve as partners in delivering ‘services’ manage to do so with a social justice-focus or welfarist-orientation. In this way, the turn to voluntary community organizations under neoliberalism gives rise to the escalation of the carceral state project and progressive alternatives to it.

Philippa Tomczak, University of Sheffield/UK
Inclusionary control? Theorising the effects of penal voluntary organisations' work
Recent penal policy developments in many jurisdictions suggest an increasing role for voluntary organisations. Voluntary organisations have long worked alongside penal institutions, but the ways that their programmes affect (ex-)offenders remain ill understood. This paper addresses the unclear and undertheorised implications of voluntary organisations' work with (ex-)offenders, using empirical data from England and Wales, and considering how these findings are relevant in other jurisdictions. It adds nuance to netwidening theory, reframing the effects of voluntary organisations' work as inclusionary and exclusionary, with exclusionary effects having inclusionary aspects, and inclusionary effects being nested within a framework of control. This provides more complete theory and has implications for penal practice.

Chair Tim Goddard
Discussant Deborah Jump

3. The Penal Voluntary Sector: Thematic Panel B

Mary Corcoran, Keele University/ UK
The penal voluntary sector in England & Wales: adaptation [and resilience] in a turbulent era
This paper will report on the findings of a major research project on voluntary sector adaptation and resilience in a mixed penal services market during a period of deep disruption to the social economy. The study took place in England and Wales from Spring 2015 to Spring 2017 and involved participants from over 100 agencies. Our findings show that the combination of marketization, austerity, the outsourcing of probation and resettlement and decentralised criminal justice management have the voluntary sector’s standing and role with stakeholders. These range from the national and local state, statutory criminal justice services, the private sector, beneficiaries and the public. The paper will present evidence of the repositioning that has taken place within the sector in order to surmount current challenges. We suggest, qua Salamon (2013), that while the voluntary/third sector has overcome previous moments of rupture, its survival has been at a cost to its conventions of autonomy and distinctiveness. The paper will also propose, however, that attention needs to be paid to burgeoning counter-narratives from the sector which may be understood as ‘resilience’.

Ref: Salamon, L. (2013) The Resilient Sector: the future of non-profits in America. Washington: Brookings Institute.

Jane Dominey, University of Cambridge/ UK
'Not just in it for the money': Community Chaplaincy and desistance in England and Wales
The Community Chaplaincy Association (CCA) is a voluntary sector organisation working with people leaving prison in England and Wales. The CCA is an umbrella organisation for a diverse group of small charities that, sharing a faith-based ethos, provide practical help, emotional support and mentoring. This paper presents the findings of a study investigating the extent to which the work of community chaplaincy is congruent with principles for desistance focussed practice. The research gathered data from interviews with 19 service users (a number of whom were interviewed on three occasions over a nine month period from September 2016), staff employed by CCA member organisations, and individuals volunteering to support and mentor former prisoners. These data were then analysed, exploring themes such as individualising support for change, building hope and working through relationships. The paper concludes with observations about the significance, from the perspective of all stakeholders, of the CCA as a voluntary sector organisation. The extent to which the voluntary sector is able to make a contribution to service delivery which is distinctive from, or adds value to, that of existing statutory
services is critically examined.

Michael Hallett, Megan Bookstaver, University of North Florida/ USA
‘We Serve Forgotten Men’: Structural Charity v. Religious Freedom in Serving Ex-offenders
Despite widespread reliance by correctional officials in the United States upon faith-based programs for delivering “cost-effective” services to prisoners and ex-offenders, religious volunteers often find themselves unwelcome participants in correctional programming. As a result of an emphasis on lowering costs, legislation for faith-based programming in several states has explicitly identified the fiscal and human capital resources made available from religious volunteer organizations as a proxy resource for strategic reductions in correctional spending. This paper offers a case study of a “religious freedom” lawsuit filed against a volunteer faith-based correctional services provider in Jacksonville, Florida. While the religious volunteers won the lawsuit against them, their experience is instructive regarding the structural contradictions of late-modern American corrections.

David Thompson, University of Sheffield/ UK
Providing mechanisms of desistance to convicted sex offenders: The role of Circles of Support and Accountability in England and Wales
Drawing on data from 70 interviews with sex offenders (or Core Members), volunteers and criminal justice professionals throughout England and Wales, this paper describes the “added extra” which volunteers can offer to the reintegration of convicted sex offenders returning to the community. More specifically the paper examines how Circles of Support and Accountability – an organisation which uses volunteers to work with a convicted sex offender or Core Member – provides the opportunities to access desistance pathways and supports pro-social narratives among Core Members, while also monitoring Core Members for signs of risky behaviour.

Discussant: Philippa Tomczak

4. The Penal Voluntary Sector: Thematic Panel C

Laura Abrams, UCLA Luskin/ USA
Cross-National Perspectives on Role of the Voluntary Sector in Reentry Service Provision for Young Adults
The provision of specialized criminal justice services for young adults is a growing field of interest in the US and around the globe. Spurred by advances in brain science and continued, high rates of criminal recidivism among peak age offenders, many countries are beginning to experiment with specialized young adult courts, correctional institutions, and reentry services. These young adults (roughly aged 18-24), thought to be caught in between the needs of characteristics of “adolescents” and “adults”, albeit with distinct characteristics. To date, the field of practice with young adult offenders can best be described as a burgeoning science; and little is known about the role of the voluntary sector in providing specialized services for this population. This paper draws on analysis of semi-structured interviews (n =40) with stakeholders in four nations: Finland, England/Wales, Belize, and Argentina, archival program literature, and site visit observations. The paper will describe various models for the provision of young adults services and examine the role of the non-profit sector in intervening in criminal justice sector services. Particular attention will be paid to the presumed service and other needs of young adults, intersecting boundaries in systems of care, and barriers to cross-sector collaboration.

Michelle Inderbitzen, Oregon State University/USA
Promise, Prevention, and Possibility: Prisoner-Led Youth Programs
When thinking of the work of the voluntary sector in prisons, we often overlook the contributions of the prisoners, themselves, as volunteers, leaders, and advocates. This paper focuses on youth outreach programs in one maximum-security prison. Four different prisoner-led clubs have developed curriculum and community contacts for monthly meetings with at risk youth and the adults who care for them. They struggle in being associated with negative “Scared Straight” programs and focus their own efforts on Positive Youth Development, encouraging youth to lead their best lives. The potential of such prisoner-led programs and the efforts of current prisoners to share their hard-earned wisdom and perspective with vulnerable youth will be examined and discussed

Melissa Pepper at the ASCMelissa Pepper, University of Surrey/ UK
Doing More for Less in Changing Times? The Use of Volunteers in Policing
Police Support Volunteers (PSVs) - citizens who give their time freely to perform tasks that
complement the duties of police officers and staff - are a relatively new addition to an established police volunteer history. Against a backdrop of reducing budgets, a pluralising workforce, and recent legislative changes enabling chief officers to confer a wider range of powers, it is likely that PSVs will become an increasingly prominent feature of UK policing. However, little is known about PSVs: who volunteers, what is their contribution to policing, and what are their experiences within an organisation that is traditionally characterised by danger, suspicion, social isolation and group loyalty, and a resistance towards tasks that do not conform to a tough ‘crime fighter’ image – compounded by a general sense of apathy towards ‘others’? Drawing on empirical research conducted within London’s Metropolitan Police Service, this paper explores these issues through the voices of on the ground volunteers themselves, at a time when politicians, policy makers and practitioners are exploring methods for delivering criminal justice services in an ever changing terrain.

Kristenne M. Robison, Westminster College (PA)/USA
Negotiating Hope and Frustration: Volunteer Experiences on a Prison Television Channel
The Hope Channel, a resident-generated television channel in Ohio, delivers 35 hours of original content a week to the incarcerated population. In order to make this happen the channel relies heavily on volunteers to share their filming and editing knowledge, to serve on an advisory board, to help reentering members secure jobs, and to help fundraise for the unusual venture. The channel, the brainchild of an innovative administrator, strives to cultivate hope in the viewing audience, contributors, and residential media teams. But how do the volunteers experience The Hope Channel? This study, using qualitative interviews and observations, discusses the ways that volunteers negotiate their hope for the television channel and the residents who work for it, with their frustration with correctional policies and employees who are not supportive of the channel.

Chair: David Thompson
Discussant: Rosie Meek