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Prison, Ethnicities and State: Establishing Theoretical and Empirical Connections

  • Sílvia GomesEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Although many studies since the late nineteenth century have examined racial, ethnic, and criminal issues, their interrelatedness is still the subject of controversy and discussion among sociologists. Throughout this article, the intersections among crime, prison, race, ethnicity, and state are examined, revealing that the state has a central role in the reproduction and production of social inequalities and direct criminalization of certain ethno-racial groups. This reflection began with a review of the literature on crime associated with racial and ethnic groups in North American and European contexts, which traces the central role of social inequalities in the explanation of the phenomena under study. After this theoretical reflection, a study developed in Portugal is presented, which illustrates precisely that the pathways to prison of individuals of certain foreign and ethnic groups must be understood in two ways: (1) not only in terms of objective living conditions, which are a result of various social inequalities in life, leading them more easily to prison, (2) but also in terms of the role that the criminal justice system itself plays, with difficulty in accessing law and justice, which makes it easier for individuals to be caught and maintained in the justice system. Finally, struggles and dilemmas are discussed while the research considers a theoretical and practical understanding of criminal phenomena connected to race, ethnicity, and nationality at the political level.

Keywords

Crime Prison Ethnicity State Social inequalities 

Notes

Acknowledgement

The author would like to thank the Foundation of Science and Technology (Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education) for financing this research through a PhD fellowship (ref. SFRH/BD/47010/2008) and for continuing to give financial support through a postdoctoral grant (ref. SFRH/BPD/102758/2014).

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CICS University of MinhoBragaPortugal
  2. 2.College of Criminology and Criminal JusticeFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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