UTM News recently ran an article discussing Professor Ashley Rubin’s research. Professor Rubin joined the Department of Sociology in 2016 and has undergraduate teaching responsibilities at the Mississauga Campus. The full article is available on the UTM News site. We have pasted an excerpt below.
Crime and Punishment: UTM prof studies early American prisons
U of T Mississauga assistant professor Ashley Rubin has been fascinated with prisons since her undergraduate years. Rubin, who joined UTM’s Department of Sociology in 2016, studies the evolution of penal systems in America and England from the seventeenth century through the early twentieth century, with a focus on the societal factors that create changes in penal practices.
“I want to understand why we do the things we do,” she says. “Why does punishment take a particular form, and how do those ideas spread?”
She is currently completing a study of Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary. The prison, which operated from 1829 to 1971, housed between 500 and 2,000 inmates for a variety of crimes including: larceny; burglary; rape; manslaughter; second-degree murder; counterfeiting; and property offences (including horse theft). While the facility is notorious for famous inmate and mobster Al Capone, it has a more important place in American penal history for its unique approach to prisoner treatment and rehabilitation. As part of the Pennsylvania prison system, Eastern State provided a stepping stone between early Colonial incarceration practices and modern-day “Supermax” prisons.