The delayed emergence of penal modernism in Florida

Heather Schoenfeld*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Recently, punishment scholars have challenged the dominant historiography of a relatively uncontested period of penal modernism or penal welfarism across the USA between the Second World War and the 1960s. However, scholarship has not yet explained why penal modernism failed to take hold in particular regions and states. Using the social history of punishment in Florida, I argue that penal modernism failed to take hold in Florida for three reasons: the effect of political arrangements on the ability of political and bureaucratic actors to reform penal institutions; the timing of modern penal initiatives with the capacity of state bureaucracies; and the precedent that linked punishment policy and practices to cultural assumptions about 'black labor'. The findings suggest that punishment scholars can draw on historical institutionalist scholarship in order to understand continuity and change in penality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-284
Number of pages27
JournalPunishment and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • history
  • politics
  • prison system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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