Reentry to Nothing: Urban Marginality After Mass Incarceration

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This presentation draws some preliminary reflections from a 3-year ethnographic study among a group of ex-prisoners facing the challenges of reentry in Oakland, California. Every day, an average of 1,700 prisoners are released from county jails, state prisons, and federal penitentiaries in the United States and dumped into the segregated neighborhoods from which they were forcefully taken years before. In the wake of broad cost-reduction strategies affecting community supervision programs and social services, the experiences of these returning prisoners suggest the emergence of a low-intensity/low-cost model of urban containment that devolves largely to market forces and non-profit agencies. This barely regulated collection of private forces, backed by the ever-present threat of prison or jail, is all that is left in a postindustrial city stripped bare of the community networks and welfare services that existed before the neoliberal punitive turn of the 1980s and 1990s. De Giorgi will present some materials from the field in an attempt to illuminate the survival strategies adopted by ex-prisoners and their families and to illustrate how the cycle of incarceration and reentry operates as a powerful engine in the reproduction of social inequality.


About the Speaker

Alessandro De Giorgi received his PhD in Criminology from Keele University (United Kingdom) in 2005. Before joining the Department of Justice Studies in 2007, he was a research fellow in Criminology at the University of Bologna (Italy) and a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Law and Society (University of California, Berkeley).

Professor De Giorgi’s┬áteaching and research interests include theories of punishment and social control, urban ethnography, political economy, and social justice. Currently, he is conducting an ethnographic research on the socioeconomic consequences of concentrated incarceration and prisoner reentry in a disadvantaged neighborhood of Oakland, CA.



Co-sponsored by the Stanford Criminal Justice Center (SCJC) and the Stanford University History Department.


Stanford Criminal Justice Center (SCJC)