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Appealing to Justice$
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Kitty Calavita and Valerie Jenness

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780520284173

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520284173.001.0001

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Naming, Blaming, and Claiming in an Uncommon Place of Law

Naming, Blaming, and Claiming in an Uncommon Place of Law

(p.49) Chapter 3 Naming, Blaming, and Claiming in an Uncommon Place of Law
Appealing to Justice

Kitty Calavita

Valerie Jenness

University of California Press

Chapter 3 presents findings from interviews with prisoners, focusing on what prisoners named as problems, what they said they have filed grievances on, and what consequences they anticipated. The frequency of these prisoners’ naming and claiming is inconsistent with findings in the literature on disputing, legal mobilization, and “trouble.” Despite their expressions of self-blame, their stigmatized status, and fears of retaliation and provoking “trouble” for themselves, the vast majority of prisoners have filed grievances, and many have filed multiple grievances. The authors argue that the institutional context of prison—a total institution in which law is a hyper-visible organizing force—enhances this form of legal mobilization by prisoners, trumping the very social and psychological factors that this context otherwise produces and that in other populations tamp down claims making.

Keywords:   grievances, total institutions, disputing, trouble, stigma, claims making

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