Perspectives on Punishment and Decarceration: (The Need for) Recipes

Cornelia Wächter's picture
November 30, 2022
Subject Fields: 
British History / Studies, Political Science, Human Rights, Government and Public Service

Call for Contributions

Hard Times Issue

Perspectives on Punishment and Decarceration: (The Need for) Recipes

edited by Paul McGuinness, Cornelia Wächter and Andrea Zittlau


Penal punishment is a serious political and social challenge. Scotland currently leads the statistics for incarceration per 100,000 population in Western Europe at 134.9, with England and Wales close behind at 131.5.[1] In the United States, almost two million people are currently incarcerated or detained, and another six million are affected by the criminal justice system through parole and courts, the incarceration of family members and friends or through the depopulation of neighbourhoods. Mass incarceration encompasses a number of governmental institutions - not only prisons and jails but also detention centres for juveniles, immigrants and substance users. While not all nations have such a dramatically high percentage of their population housed behind bars, incarceration proves to be a challenge everywhere. High costs, high recidivism rates, questionable housing conditions, and the lack of promising programs supporting people who leave prison are only part of an ongoing debate. Clearly, the penal system needs to be discussed, reformed, restructured, and reconceptualized as part of a democratic society. Our planned Hard Times issue intends to cast an interdisciplinary and diverse glance at current debates on penal punishment. Hard Times has its origins in British Cultural Studies but aims to transcend the field and especially a purely academic readership. Therefore, we invite contributions on punishment and decarceration in the Anglophone world from a range of perspectives. We especially invite voices from those affected and/or involved in the penal system as this issue aims to reach beyond the academic borders, thus enriching scholarly work. We would like to hear about


  • sustainable reentry programs
  • attempts to change the conditions inside penal institutions
  • programs that focus on preventing crime
  • family members and other loved ones suffering the incarceration of someone close to them
  • critical representations of the penal system in literature, film and television
  • ongoing debates on decarceration
  • discussions of race, class, gender, age, sexuality, and religion behind bars


Please send a 200-word abstract and a short bio note to and by 30 November 2022. Full contributions of about 3000 words will be due by 31 March 2023.

Contact Info: 
Prof. Dr. Cornelia Wächter
Professur für Großbritannienstudien
Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Fakultät Sprach-, Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaften
Technische Universität Dresden
01062 Dresden