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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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Grievance Narratives as Frames of Meaning, Profiles of Power

Grievance Narratives as Frames of Meaning, Profiles of Power

(p.150) Chapter 7 Grievance Narratives as Frames of Meaning, Profiles of Power
Appealing to Justice

Kitty Calavita

Valerie Jenness

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on the official grievances to trace frames deployed by prisoners and staff across four levels of review. It reveals that these written documents present, in their hardened form, the respective logics of rights and confinement. Comprised of prisoners’ narratives and officials’ responses, the official grievances offer a dramatic illustration of the broader contradiction. Not only are prisoners’ grievances—which are typically framed in the language of rights and needs—usually denied by officials, but officials speak in the clipped language of carceral policy and rarely engage directly with the issues of rights and needs that dominate inmates’ narratives. The authors underscore the diametrically different languages and logics deployed by the two sides in these formal documents and the sharp contrast of this rigid opposition with the more ambivalent positions expressed in the interviews. The chapter ends with a discussion of the strategic and fluid quality of legal consciousness and the key role played by power inequalities in shaping it.

Keywords:   grievances, language, frames, legal consciousness, narratives, carceral policy, rights and needs, power inequalities

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