THE FOUCAULT EFFECT 1991-2011
A Conference at Birkbeck College, University of London Reflecting on 20 years of
The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality
Jonathan Simon – From the Medical Model to the Humanitarian Crisis Model: California’s Prison Health Crisis and the Future of Imprisonment
Foucault’s Discipline and Punish was published in the United States in 1977 just as California’s prison system was undergoing an epochal shift. In the mid‐70’s it was reaching its 20th century low in terms of imprisonment rate as it pursued just the kind of community based rehabilitative penal practices Foucault would have predicted. However after a brief rerun of the late 18th century debates about punishment and justice, the state set itself on a course of rapid prison expansion that would see a quintupling of the prisoner population by the end of the century; and embraced a model of penality that would see therapy and rehabilitation shunted aside for maximum security incapacitation. In between these points we can discern two distinct penal regimes, and possibly the emergence of a third. Each reflects the continuing fertilization between the penal field and the health care field that Foucault demonstrated in Discipline and Punish. In the 1970s California prisons were still organized along a medical model in which penal techniques aimed at resolving individual diseases of the will. In the 1980s and 1990s California reorganized prisons around a model of quarantine in which prisons were expanded (and yet emptied of their therapeutic technologies of power) to contain a growing class of high risk Californians whose collective physical presence was deemed a threat to the community. The result has been a human rights catastrophe in which prisons are operated at 2 to 3 times the design capacity and inmates die weekly from routine unmet medical and mental health needs. Courts however have begun to intervene, ordering the state to reduce its prison population and restore adequate physical and mental treatment of the individual prisoner. Out of this, it is possible, a new model of imprisonment is emerging, one based on the global practice of humanitarian crisis medicine.
Before joining the UC Berkeley School of Law Boalt Hall faculty in 2003, Simon was a professor at the University of Miami School of Law. Previously, he was an assistant professor at the University of Michigan from 1990 to 1992. He clerked for the Honorable Judge William C. Canby Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (1988-89).
Simon teaches courses on criminal law, criminal justice, law and culture, risk and the law, and socio-legal studies. His scholarship concerns the role of criminal justice and punishment in modern societies, insurance and other contemporary practices of governing risk, the cultural lives of law, and the intellectual history of law and the social sciences. Simon is a faculty associate of the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice.
Simon is the author of “Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass,” 1890-1990 (1993) and the co-editor of “Embracing Risk: The Changing Culture of Insurance and Responsibility” (with Tom Baker, 2002) and “Cultural Analysis, Cultural Studies, and the Law: Moving Beyond Legal Realism” (with Austin Sarat, 2003); “After the War on Crime: Race, Democracy and the New Reconstruction” (with Mary Louise Frampton and Ian Haney Lopez, 2008). His most recent book is “Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear” (2007) winner of the 2008 Book Prize of the Sociology of Law section of the ASA and the 2010 Hindelang Prize of the American Society of Criminology.
Simon is a faculty associate of the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice.
During the 2010 and 2011 academic year Simon has been a MacCormick Fellow and Leverhulme Visting Professor of Law at the University of Edinburgh School of Law. His latest project is a book on California’s medical/legal prison crisis titled, Mass Incarceration on Trial.
Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear, New York: Oxford University Press (2007) Issues in Legal Scholarship, Catastrophic Risks: Prevention, Compensation, and Recovery, Article 4, http://www.bepress.com/ils/iss10/art4/ (2007)
Parrhesiastic Accountability: Investigatory Commissions and Executive Power in an Age of Terror, 114 Yale. L. J. 1419 (2005)
Reversal of Fortune: The Resurgence of Individual Risk Assessment in Criminal Justice, 1 Annual Review of Law and Social Science 397-421 (2005)
Risk and Reflexivity: What Socio-Legal Studies Add to the Study of Risk and the Law, 57 Alabama Law Review 119-139 (2005)
Fearless Speech in the Killing State: The Power of Capital Crime Victim Speech, North Carolina Law Review, 82 N. Carolina. L. Rev. 1377 (2004)
Teaching Criminal Law in an Era of Governing through Crime, Saint Louis University Law Journal, 48 St. Louis U. L. J. 1313 (2004)