My article “The Submerged Prison State: Punishment, private interests, and the politics of public accountability” has been accepted for publication at Punishment and Society.

Here’s the abstract:

Much of the US penal state is ‘submerged,’ in the sense that Suzanne Mettler uses the term. There are networks of rules and regulations that link public funds, services, and institutions to various private interests with far reaching consequences. These networks are largely a stealth presence in the lives of citizens and their subterranean status, I argue, warps the wider politics of punishment. Resources are circulated along this network in such a way revenue is generated for some, costs cut for others, all in the shadow of public law. To the extent that this kind of redistribution lacks citizens’ consent and approval, it also represents a potentially undemocratic development. Here, I show how the obscured visibility of these public-private connections distorts public attitudes about, and public support for, the penal state. The final pages draw out the normative implications of that distortion.


access to justice, civil law, tax expenditures, carceral state, privatization, regulation, politics of punishment, democratic theory

I’ll be presenting a revised draft of my article on legal socialization next month at the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities at the University of Toronto School of Law. June 22-23, Toronto, Canada.

I’ll be presenting a paper titled “Legal Socialization and Child Resistance” at the annual meeting of the Western Political Science Association in San Francisco on Saturday.

Democracy in Captivity: Prisoners, patients, and the limits of self-government is now available for pre-order (link here) and is scheduled to be released this August.

I’ve been terrible about posting regular updates over the last few years — I’ll start up again this month.

This afternoon my colleagues Lucas Núñez, Jess Terman, Rob McGrath, and I will be meeting with students in the Schar School of Policy and Government’s “Virtual Learning Community” (VLC). I’m looking forward to getting to know our wonderful students at Schar a bit better.


My democratic theory and practice course (GOVT 101) last fall has been recognized as “an outstanding Mason Core Social/Behavioral Sciences course.” I enjoy teaching this introductory course and I’m looking forward to continually improving it.

A drop of good news in an ocean of bad: my article titled “Must penal law be insulated from public influence?” has been accepted at Law and Philosophy. [Accessible here.]

Later this week I’ll be one of the faculty presenters for Mason’s PhD Research Morning. The aim of Research Morning is to provide PhD students with tips and tools for navigating the proposal and dissertation stages of the program, and to begin thinking beyond the dissertation. My short talk is on “Writing Your Dissertation.”  January 29, 11:15 in Research Hall.