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Journal Article

Overcoming the Absurd: Prisoner Litigation as Primitive Rebellion

Dragan Milovanovic and Jim Thomas
Social Problems
Vol. 36, No. 1 (Feb., 1989), pp. 48-60
DOI: 10.2307/800549
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/800549
Page Count: 13
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Overcoming the Absurd: Prisoner Litigation as Primitive Rebellion
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Abstract

Are those who use law in attempts to change the conditions of social existence rebels, revolutionaries, or merely ineffective idealists? Drawing upon themes from existential literature and our past research on prisons, we address this question by looking at one category of active litigants, prison jailhouse lawyers (JHLs). Exiled and powerless, prisoners have relatively few ways to resist either the control or the conditions imposed upon them by their state keepers. JHLs, however, actively resist prison staff and authority. We argue that JHL activity constitutes a form of rebellion and conclude that jailhouse lawyers may be best understood as primitive rebels.

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