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Journal Article

Penal Populism and the Problem of Mass Incarceration: The Promise of Utopian Thinking

Lynne Copson
The Good Society
Vol. 23, No. 1 (2014), pp. 55-72
DOI: 10.5325/goodsociety.23.1.0055
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Page Count: 18
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Penal Populism and the Problem of Mass Incarceration:
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In this paper, Copson explores the question of what might be done in order to enable us to imagine responses beyond mass incarceration. She considers Albert Dzur's general calls for the creation of spaces for democratic deliberative participation and his particular reimagining of the jury as one such potential space. Drawing connections between such calls and David Harvey's “spaces of hope,” Copson argues that whilst such remedies to reinvigorate criminal and penal policy-making as meaningful sites of civic engagement are an important element in challenging the tendency towards punitive penal responses, we cannot and should not detach questions of crime and justice from the more holistic examination of society if we are to avoid simply reifying and further legitimating existing penal responses. Finally, invoking the emerging “utopian method” identified by Levitas, Copson suggests a possible conceptual means to achieving this end.

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