Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xiv

The Los Angeles County jail system holds approximately twenty thousand inmates on any given day, and around a quarter of them are held in Men’s Central Jail. By some counts, it holds more people in custody than any other single facility in the world. Like most jails, its original purpose was to house pretrial inmates who were either denied or could not post bail...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xviii

As I learned from my friend and teacher Patchen Markell, acknowledgment is a difficult practice. Trying to account for all the ways in which this book is the product of many years of work is a powerful and happy reminder of how deeply and widely connected to others I am fortunate to be...

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A Note About the Cover

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pp. xix-xxii

The photograph on the cover of this book is a close-up of the windows of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, Chicago. This federal jail facility was built in 1975, at the very start of the era of mass incarceration. It is located in the middle of downtown Chicago, just around the corner from the Chicago Board of Trade, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago...

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1. A Productive Injustice

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pp. 1-26

It might be helpful to start with some numbers. At the start of the twenty-first century, roughly 1 percent of the population of the United States is in jail or prison. Roughly 3 percent of the population of the United States is “on paper,” that is, on parole or probation...

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2. Fabricating Figures

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pp. 27-50

When taking up the question of felon disenfranchisement, we typically assume that the normative terms of the debate have already been settled, and we also often fail to appreciate that the practice of disenfranchisement might be performing some very useful work for us, even if that work is illiberal, unjust, or contradictory...

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3. Neoliberal Penality and the Biopoliticsof Homo OEconomicus

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pp. 51-84

Figures—such as those described in the previous chapter—are fabricated for largely strategic purposes, resolving or managing the tensions and outright contradictions that occur between the exercises of power by various actors, institutions, practices, and ways of knowing that form entire social and political bodies...

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4. To Kill a Thief

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pp. 85-109

It is difficult to overstate John Locke’s influence on the American project and the formative effects his thought has had on our thinking about rights, liberties, and self-government. Beyond the obvious debt to Locke that is identifiable in Thomas Jefferson’s careful choice of words in the Declaration of Independence...

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5. Innocent Citizens, Guilty Subjects

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pp. 110-139

The analogy Davis draws works so well because the notions of punishment and citizenship in the United States are deeply connected and cannot be explained without reference to the pernicious history and continued presence of white supremacy as a political and social system...

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6. Punishing at the Ballot Box

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pp. 140-169

If we follow Judith Shklar’s lead and take up the history of suffrage but this time with an eye toward the exclusion of criminals from the franchise, we see how this exclusion has figured “American” political membership as normatively white and innocent, linking them closely together...

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7. Civic Disabilities

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pp. 170-200

This book has attempted to track a series of interrelated conceptual claims to help us understand the practice of felon disenfranchisement. First, punishment and political membership are deeply related discourses and have been throughout the history of the United States and in its broadly liberal tradition...

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8. (Re)figuring Justice

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pp. 201-224

As I noted at the beginning of this book, there is no shortage of good reasons to condemn disenfranchisement and agitate for its end. It is pointless punishment, it is racist, it reproduces racial inequalities, it is excessive and cruel, it is an administrative nightmare, it undercuts the value we place on self-government, it skews electoral results, and on and on...

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Coda

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pp. 225-228

On July 8, 2013, nearly thirty thousand inmates across the state of California began refusing meals as part of a coordinated hunger strike against deplorable prison conditions in the state. This hunger strike is a renewal of a 2011 hunger strike organized by inmates in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison in Northern California...

Notes

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pp. 229-288

Bibliography

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pp. 289-316

Index

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pp. 317-326