In a TEDx talk, Professor Ashley Rubin recently discussed the history of prisons, while questioning whether it is time for a new approach to punishment that doesn’t involve incarceration. She explains the difference between jails and prisons, and how the evolution of prisons has involved controversy because of the inhumane nature of long term confinement, as well as the expenses of maintaining and managing them. Despite these concerns, Professor Rubin reveals how and why solitary confinement of some type continues to be perceived as necessary. Moreover, modern debates on the operations and efficiency of prisons is about how often people are sent to prison, and what can be done about policies, rather than discussing whether they should still exist. Her talk was part of the TEDx Mississauga series of talks.
Watch the full TEDx talk here.
Professor Rubin is an Assistant Professor of Sociology with teaching duties at the UTM campus. Her current research reexamines the dynamics of penal change, focusing on the introduction of new punishments in America and England from the seventeenth century through the early twentieth century. She has conducted projects exploring the uses of penal incarceration before first state prisons, the rise and decline of the proto-prison and modern prison, and the effect of prison authorizations on existing punishments in the United States. Her research also examines the theoretical consequences of analyzing prisons as organizations, including recognizing the dynamics of the diffusion of penal innovations, the tension between organizational concerns and penal goals, and the professionalization efforts of early prison administrators.