Convict Criminology

X. Conclusion

Since the conception of the convict criminology group more than a decade ago, there has been a steady increase in the number of exconvict academics willing to step forward and become a part of it. In doing so, they show a willingness to challenge the taken-for-granted and offer fresh insights into some of the oldest questions in sociology and criminology/criminal justice. As the group grows and these observations accumulate, a more complete and relatively current picture of modern prisons begins to emerge (see Irwin, 2005; Jones & Schmid, 2000; Newbold, 2007; Ross & Richards, 2002; Terry, 2003). Members of the group are able to write with authority about what they have observed or experienced in prisons located in different states and different countries.

The CC literature is now being cited regularly in textbooks and academic journals. There is a greater appreciation for first-person (auto-ethnographic) and retrospective accounts. Like Marx standing Hegel on his head, a social scientist needs to invert the musing of the philosopher. The CC collective encourages the exploration of alternative explanations and remedies that emanate from different perspectives drawn from extraordinary experiences. If academics wish to have a truly rounded picture of what happens in criminal justice, they need to listen to the victims of the system as well as to its architects and operators. It is only with the benefit of full and comprehensive knowledge that effective public policy can be drafted.

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