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12:00pm - Speaker Series: Reuben Miller, School of Social Service Administration, the University of Chicago

  • When: January 15, 2020, 12–1:30 pm
  • Where: ABF Woods Conference Room, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th floor, Lakeside, Chicago, IL 60611

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Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration

Readings can be found here.

While more people are incarcerated in the United States than in any other nation in the history of the western world, the prison is but one (comparatively) small part of a vast carceral landscape. The 600,000 people released each year join nearly 5 million people already on probation or parole, 12 million who are processed through a county jail, 19 million U.S. adults estimated to have a felony conviction, and the staggering 79 million Americans with a criminal record. But the size of the population of the carceral state is second in consequence to its reach. Upon release, incarcerated people are greeted by more than 48,000 laws, policies and administrative sanctions that limit their participation in the labor and housing markets, in the culture and civic life of the city, and even within their families. They are subject to rules other people are not subject to and shoulder responsibilities other people are not expected to shoulder. They, in fact, occupy an alternate form of political membership—what I call “carceral citizenship.” This presentation examines the afterlife of mass incarceration. Drawing on ethnographic data collected in three iconic American cities, this presentation explores what it means to live in a “supervised society”—the hidden social world we've produced through our laws, policies and practices—and how we might find a way out.

Photo and Bio Courtesy of the University of Chicago

Reuben Jonathan Miller is an Assistant Professor in the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA). His research examines life at the intersections of race, poverty, crime control, and social welfare policy. He is completing a book, titled Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, based on 15 years of research and practice with currently and formerly incarcerated men, women, their families, partners, and friends.

Dr. Miller has conducted fieldwork in Chicago, Detroit, and New York City, examining how law, policy and emergent practices of state and third-party supervision changed the contours of citizenship, activism, community, and family life for poor black Americans and the urban poor more broadly. To capture the effects of crime control on social life in global cities with different public policies, Miller conducts ongoing fieldwork in Glasgow, London and Belgrade. He is launching a comparative study of punishment and social welfare policy in the port cities that were most involved in the transatlantic slave trade. This project, titled “On the Tracks of Empire” takes place in the archives, courtrooms, prisons, halfway houses and homes of prisoners and former prisoners in cities along the trade route from Dakar to New Orleans and from Elmina to Baltimore.

Prior to joining SSA, Dr. Miller was an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan where he served as a Faculty Associate in the Population Studies Center and a Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Afro American and African Studies. He was selected as a 2016 Member in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, the world’s leading center for curiosity driven research, and a visiting fellow at Dartmouth University in 2018. His work has been published in journals of criminology, human rights, law, psychology, sociology, social work, psychology and public health and he is frequently called upon to give media commentary on issues of crime, punishment, race and poverty.

A native son of Chicago’s Southside, Dr. Miller received his Ph.D from Loyola University Chicago, an AM from the University of Chicago, and a BA from Chicago State University. 

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