It takes a border to escape

Bijdrage aan een congres
13 december, 2016

Carceral Geography Conference, University of Birmingham, 2016.

Although modern prison has evolved over time, it remains commonly defined by its walls and their role of confinement.
Nevertheless, evolutions, such as the rise of community sanctions and electronic monitoring or the constant monitoring of how a sentence is enforced have opened new perspectives beyond the wall.
The 500 pages of preparatory work for the Belgian penitentiary law (2005) show the development of a new vision of prison. The central concept of ‘normalisation’ calls into question the classical border separating the ‘abnormal’ prison from the rest of society.
In our contribution, we will show that this new prison project is based on the requirement for openness and mobility from inmates and other actors, rather than closure and immobilisation. In this context, being outside the walls does not mean that one has done his time or has escaped the carceral system.
Therefore, can we consider the inmates as freed by mobility, or should we consider the option to free them from mobility? In other words, do the recent evolutions of the carceral imply reconsidering the ways in which one opposes the prison and defines the problem it poses to our societies?