Convict CriminologyInside and Out

Convict CriminologyInside and Out

Rod Earle

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9781447323648

Publisher: Policy Press


Convict criminology is the study of criminology by those who have first-hand experience of imprisonment. This is the first single-authored account of this unusual perspective. It begins with an overview of the idea that direct experience of incarceration furnishes a criminologist with distinctive resources to analyse and critique ideas about crime, punishment, law and order. The book goes on to critically evaluate the emergence of the perspective within the USA. Key figures, such as Frank Tannenbaum and John Irwin, are identified, and their particular contributions to criminology are discussed before the accounts move across the Atlantic to Europe. The Russian anarchist theorist, Peter Kropotkin, is identified as the first ‘convict criminologist’ on the basis of his 19th century study of French and Russian prisons that combined his own experiences of incarceration with extensive empirical studies. The author, by drawing on his own experience of imprisonment in the early 1980s, demonstrates how such experience can be developed academically to widen the horizons of criminology. Taking inspiration from feminist intersectional scholarship his account foregrounds gender, race, colonialism and class as central features of men’s penal experience. The reflexive autobiographical style of the book offers methodological insights, creative theoretical synthesis and a compelling narrative.