Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationStanford U.
Grant numberGr. 9349
Approve DateOctober 5, 2016
Project TitleMaull, Samuel, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Family on the Inside: Kinship and the Crisis of the Criminal Justice System,' supervised by Dr. Angela Garcia
SAMUEL MAULL, then a graduate student at Stanford University, Stanford, California, was awarded funding to aid research on ‘Family on the Inside: Kinship and the Crisis of the Criminal Justice System,’ supervised by Dr. Angela Garcia. Mass incarceration has become part of American society over the past 40 years. During that time millions of Americans, particularly poor people of color, have passed through the country’s prisons and jails. While recent interest has turned to the effect that incarceration has on those who experience it directly, this project investigated the more indirect effect of incarceration; on families of incarcerated people, through a long-term, ethnographic study with men incarcerated in a San Francisco county jail and their families. Findings from this project emphasize the massive financial and emotional burden that incarceration places on families, who are often called upon to bear the costs of legal fees, bail, commissary, and phone bills, as well as caring for children and providing emotional support to incarcerated people. These burdens were justified by County officials and employees of the Sherriff’s Department by reference to the criminality of incarcerated people: privations were a consequence of criminal behavior, they reasoned. Through extensive interviews with incarcerated people I found that they understood this logic to be reversed: they saw themselves as trapped in a vicious cycle where they were assumed to be criminal since childhood.