Race, Ideology, and the Communicative Theory of PunishmentSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Please contact email@example.com to use this work in a way not covered by the license. :
For more information, read Michigan Publishing's access and usage policy.
This paper explores communicative punishment from a non-idealized perspective. I argue that, given the specific racial dynamics involved, and given the broader social and historical context in which they are embedded, American policing and punishment function as a form of racially derogatory discourse. Understood as communicative behavior, criminal justice activities express a commitment to a broader ideology. Given the facts about how the American justice system actually operates, and given its broader socio-political context, American carceral behaviors express a commitment to the same types of derogatory, subordinating anti-minority ideologies that are paradigmatically conveyed through racial slurs and similar forms of derogatory speech. Moreover, I argue, this derogatory meaning presents a significant obstacle to adequate criminal justice reform.