back to events listing

Annual Walter C. Reckless Simon Dinitz Memorial Lecture

Ohio State's Criminal Justice Research Center presents the Annual Walter C. Reckless Simon Dinitz Memorial Lecture featuring Dr. Marie Gottschalk, professor of political science, the University of Pennsylvania. The title for her lecture is “Bring It On: the Future of Penal Reform, the Carceral State and American Politics”.


Mass imprisonment and its growing collateral consequences are deeply entangled in the political, economic, and social fabric of the United States. But we must resist the belief that the only way to raze the carceral state is to tackle the “root causes” of crime—massive unemployment, massive poverty, and unconscionable levels of social and economic inequality stratified by race and ethnicity. Ameliorating the deeper structural problems that foster such high levels of inequality in U.S. society is an admirable goal. But if the aim is to slash the country’s extraordinary incarceration rate and undo its harmful collateral consequences over the next few years, not the next few decades, the root causes approach to penal reform, however well intentioned, is shortsighted. This presentation sketches out an alternative political and public policy path to begin dismantling the carceral state.

Marie Gottschalk is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She specializes in American politics, with a focus on criminal justice, health policy, and the development of the welfare state.

She is the author of, among other works, The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America, which won the 2007 Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians, and The Shadow Welfare State: Labor, Business, and the Politics of Health Care in the United States. Her new book, Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics will appear in fall 2014.

She is a former editor and journalist and currently serves on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Causes and Consequences of High Rates of Incarceration.

A reception will follow.