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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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“Narcissists,” “Liars,” Process, and Paper

“Narcissists,” “Liars,” Process, and Paper

The Dilemmas and Solutions of Grievance Handlers

(p.97) Chapter 5 “Narcissists,” “Liars,” Process, and Paper
Appealing to Justice

Kitty Calavita

Valerie Jenness

University of California Press

This chapter traces the impact of the conflicting logics of rights and carceral control on prison staff. Almost all of these staff acknowledged that filing a grievance is a legitimate prisoner right and that the grievance system is a useful managerial tool, but they ridiculed prisoners who file grievances and trivialized their appeals. Drawing on and extending scholarship on administrative decision making, the authors argue that these officials are caught between the perceived realities of their institution and attending to its logics, while at the same time acceding to the cultural logic of rights. Impugning the character of prisoners who exercise their right to appeal is a cognitive solution to this tension. This cognitive turn has not-so-subtle racial implications, as the portrayal of the overly pampered prisoner echoes the (post) civil rights trope that people of color are entitlement-seeking beneficiaries of special privileges. Finally, the chapter examines the ways in which a focus on rules and paperwork shores up certainty in uncertain terrain and facilitates emotional distance.

Keywords:   legitimate, administrative decision making, rights, carceral logic, race, rules, paperwork

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