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Department ofSociology

Stories

Undergraduate Conference and Keynote Speaker

The Sociology Department hosted the 48th Annual Western Anthropology & Sociology Undergraduate Research Conference on May 22, 2021. Students presented in a roundtable setting their original research and ideas at a collegial professional conference. The annual conference promoted and recognized original research at the undergraduate level in Anthropology, Sociology, and related social sciences facilitating communication and professional exchange among students and faculty from colleges and universities throughout the United States.

As the keynote speaker for the 48th Annual Undergraduate Conference, the Sociology Department invited Dr. Reuben Jonathan Miller to discuss his book Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration with our own Dr. Lopez-Aguado. Dr. Miller explores what it means to live in a supervised society and how we might find our way out. Miller examines what he calls the “afterlife of mass incarceration,” attending to how U.S. criminal justice policy has changed the social life of the city and altered the contours of American Democracy one (most often poor black American) family at a time. Reuben Miller, a former chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago and now a sociologist studying mass incarceration, spent years alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners, their friends, and their families to understand the lifelong burden that even a single arrest can entail. What his work revealed is a simple, if overlooked truth: life after incarceration is its own form of prison. The idea that one can serve their debt and return to life as a full-fledged member of society is one of America’s most nefarious myths. Recently released individuals are faced with jobs that are off-limits, apartments that cannot be occupied, and votes that cannot be cast. They are subject to rules other people are not subject to, and shoulder responsibilities other people are not expected to shoulder. They live in a “supervised society,” a hidden social world we’ve produced through our laws, policies and everyday practices, and in fact, occupy an alternate form of political membership—what Professor Reuben Jonathan Miller calls “carceral citizenship.”