The Uproot Blog

  • The Clinton Doctrine (5/2/2016) Hillary Clinton has made her expertise on foreign policy, both as a senator and as Secretary of State, a major component of her presidential campaign. She has claimed that her experience makes her ready to be Commander-in-Chief. Clearly, her campaign believes that this is a key selling point for an electorate concerned about terrorism and international instability. So, what is Secretary Clinton’s record on foreign policy and war? What exactly would the Clinton Doctrine look like? Honduras Secretary Clinton supported the 2009 military coup in Honduras which removed the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya. Soldiers kidnapped President Zelaya late at
  • Freedom From Theory So As To Theorize About Freedom (4/25/2016) A student asked me recently what I thought was the most formidable criminological theory. I responded, saying “Richard Quinney takes wonderful pictures of birds.” But I should have begun with her by apologizing for having written a criminological theory myself, so please take this as a humble and heartfelt apology to you on her behalf. I will be more careful in the future. Let me explain why. Some of my students are angry about the state of mainstream criminological theory. Of course I can’t say I blame them. But for some, I think, the anger they feel is a function
  • The Yuck Election (4/18/2016) Here we are. It’s April and the depressing, almost psychotic, quadrennial circus of Presidential elections is disgorging itself like a bad case of intestinal flu all over the American populace. What a show! It’s a true extravaganza. A spectacle that makes Debord look like a Biblical prophet. It is Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man replayed as American Horror Story. It is the Game of Thrones without the dragons and prurient sex and with only metaphorical death. Yes, here we are with the probable nominees of the two major political parties being two of the most unpopular political figures in the United
  • Boundary Violations between Prison Staff and Inmates: The “Orange is the New Black” Effect (3/7/2016) Every semester, I teach an Ethics and Criminal Justice course for our Criminal Justice minor. Several semesters ago, I revised my final exam to include the following prompt: You are a corrections officer at minimum security prison camp. You discover that one of your co-workers has been having a romantic and sexual relationship with one of the prisoners for six months. You know this is against the rules, and that both the inmate and your co-worker will face serious consequences for engaging in an inappropriate relationship. If you blow the whistle on your co-worker, she will lose her job and
  • The Koch Epidemic (2/22/2016) The criminal justice system is at a critical juncture. With the untimely passing of arguably one of the most influential conservative Supreme Court justices in United States history, and the potential for the next President to nominate possibly four justices to the court, the system is poised for a major shift. Couple this with the growing debate over the death penalty, mass incarceration, police brutality, and corporate criminality, among many others, and the implications become even more far-reaching. From the bowels of social media, where racism and misogyny are not only tolerated but encouraged, to the meetings of corporate billionaires,
  • Analyzing an Anomaly: Steven Avery and American Miscarriages of Justice (2/11/2016) The directors of Making a Murderer, Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, were recently featured on the Daily Show (January 18, 2016) to discuss the motivations for their explosive 10-part documentary series which began streaming on Netflix on December 18, 2015. Providing some evidence of its swift permeation into America’s psyche, the hashtag #MakingAMurderer climbed to the 70th percentile in Twitter popularity rankings just three weeks after its initial debut (Nyman 2016). Yet despite the public’s obsession with evaluating the guilt or innocence of Steven Avery, Demos and Ricciardi insist that their main impetus in showcasing the Halbach investigation and eventual
  • Flint, Poisoned Water and Systemic Criminality (2/1/2016) On January 16, 2016 Michigan Governor Rick Snyder delivered his annual “State of the State” address. In that speech the Governor struck an almost apologetic tone over the water crisis in Flint. He said that it is “now time to tell the truth about what we have done.” He went on to say “the government has failed you.” But the Governor’s feigned contrition is wholly disingenuous. Snyder’s suggestion that some officials made “mistakes” which led to the lead poisoning of public water supplies was a gross understatement. The Governor claimed to know nothing about the period between April 2014 when
  • Against “Cyber” (1/11/2016) Among my friends and colleagues, my hatred of the “cyber” prefix is well known. I loathe cyber. Yet it has become the de facto term within public and academic discourses to refer to almost any topic related to human-computer interactions. Criminology does not escape from this trend. A multitude of books have emerged, largely over the past decade, with “cyber” branded clearly across the cover. A trove of articles can be found featuring “cyber” prominently in their titles. Even journals dedicated to “cyber criminology” have been produced such as the International Journal of Cyber Criminology which began publishing online in
  • Absolute Capitalism, Mass Murder, and Suicide (1/4/2016) Mass murder has become all too common in the United States. From Columbine, to Newtown, to San Bernardino the response has been both predictable and banal. There are almost ritualistic calls for additional controls on firearms. There are commentaries on the problem of mental health. And there are suggestions that the depiction of violence in movies, television programming and video games sparks imitation and stimulates the deeply buried dark impulses in the minds of some potentially dangerous people. To some degree these all have a core of truth. To some degree they all have the exaggerations of myth. Yes, we
  • Disrupting Democracy: Felony Disenfranchisement Laws and the “Smart on Crime” Era (11/23/2015) A few days ago, I read a shocking headline that stated “Kentucky’s Incarceration