Alexandria Digital Research Library

"Everybody Gets Locked Up at Least Once in a While": Navigating the Carceral Social Order in Fresno

Lopez-Aguado, Patrick A.
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Sociology
Degree Supervisor:
George Lipsitz and Victor Rios
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Sociology, Criminology and Penology, Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and Sociology, Social Structure and Development
Collateral Consequences
Juvenile Justice
Mass Incarceration
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013

This dissertation examines how criminalized affiliations are institutionalized in justice system facilities, and how people in turn use these affiliations to navigate punitive settings. My findings are based on ethnographic data collected in Fresno, CA, where I conducted 12 months of participant observation research in a juvenile hall, and in an alternative high school for youth on juvenile probation. Additionally, I recorded 70 interviews with students at the high school and with parolees returning from the adult prison system to document how their experiences in these environments shaped their worldviews. I argue that punitive institutions, such as prisons and court schools, construct criminality by institutionalizing and enforcing a "carceral social order"---a system of social organization in which people are systematically divided by race, home communities, and personal contacts into gang-associated groups.

The prison and the school separated rival gangs by dividing entire facilities, forcing all prisoners/students to pick sides. This imposed racialized gang conflicts on all prisoners/students, exposing them to confrontation and violence from their peers and gradually teaching them to frame their own racial, ethnic, and class identities through the criminalized groups there were sorted into. For many of the students, the divisiveness imposed on them in the juvenile hall and continuation school mirrored stories they had heard of the prison from incarcerated loved ones. The extensive influence of the justice system in their communities (experienced through the incarceration of relatives and neighbors as well as their own involvement in the juvenile justice system) taught youth to position themselves and others in this carceral social order by framing racial and community ties through criminalized affiliations.

Many of the students and parolees claimed that these affiliations helped them access important resources and allies while in the institution. In this way these affiliations functioned as survival strategies that residents of high-incarceration communities used to manage the carceral subjectivity of their neighborhoods. However, residents' experiences navigating rivalries in these facilities also marked them with criminal labels that ultimately kept them ensnared in the justice system.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (175 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Patrick Lopez-Aguado
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