Alexandra Cox, Trapped in a Vice: The Consequences of Confinement for Young People.
|Muniz, Julissa O.
ALEXANDRA COX'S TRAPPED IN A VICE: THE CONSEQUENCES OF CONFINEMENT for Young People emerges against a backdrop of declining youth incarceration rates and continued mobilizations, frequently led by youth of color, against the racialized viole nee of policing and prisons. Despite these positive movements, the Trump administration continues to deepen its investment in law-and-order politics and to expand definitions of human confinement: ramping up immigration detention and deportation, eroding the limited rights available to transgender communities, and more. With a sharp focus on the limits of juvenile justice reform narratives, Cox provides a key analysis that should propel us to keep our collective eye on the prize and to challenge empty reforms that do not build liberation for all.
Trapped in a Vice emerges in the wake of a body of strong texts that explore related facets of juvenile (injustice, including Sabina Vaught's (2017) Compulsory: Education and the Dispossession of Youth in a Prison School and Nell Bernstein's (2016) Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison, in addition to earlier pivotal works that explore the racialized practices of youth criminalization, such as Victor Rios's (2011) Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys and Laurie Schaffner's (2006) Girls in Trouble with the Law. A key contribution to the burgeoning field of critical carceral studies, and a valuable teaching tool for ethnographic methods courses, Cox's text offers readers in today's shifting political landscape new tools to track and engage the multifaceted, and ultimately destructive, consequences of juvenile criminal legal reforms.
Cox's rich and rigorous ethnography charts aspects of the experiences of incarcerated youth in New York, the site of the first juvenile prison in the United States, and grapples with the role of what she terms the "heavy hand of the state" (4) in reproducing a discourse of youth as ungovernable. Conceptualizing juvenile justice prisons as "living breathing organisms" where the staff and young people "do not always react and respond to the practices in the way intended by their creators" (125), Cox carefully weaves together vivid narratives from her participants drawn from interviews with 39 young people (selected by prison administrators and staff) and 113 staff from the various state-operated residential juvenile facilities. "Trapped in a vice" could also potentially reference the adult staff members who are objects of her study, as they too--through a very different power differential than young...
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