[News Release] – College of the Canyons faculty member Dr. Karyl Kicenski will present an eye-opening discussion focused on the American “prison market,” prison privatization and the burgeoning businesses associated with the construction of prison facilities, during the spring 2014 Scholarly Presentation “Cashing in on Crime,” taking place May 22, at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC).
In her presentation, Kicenski argues that the emergence of the U.S. prison market has resulted in a highly developed enterprise system designed to mine wealth from those who have been sentenced to prison.
Kicenski also points to the disturbing contradiction between the arguments for prison privatization and the ever-increasing rates of incarceration and recidivism witnessed in the state of California, and across the nation.
“The privatization of prisons is often justified by the conservative doctrine that private institutions will be both more efficient and effective than government run institutions, and, similarly, that the use of prison labor is justified as providing both restitution to the state and job training to the prisoner,” Kicenski said.
According to Kicenski, between 1980 and 2000, the time period coinciding with the emergence of the prison market, California’s inmate population increased nearly six-fold.
“When penal systems become privatized,” said Kicenski, “the ‘failure’ of the prison system to reduce crime and prevent recidivism becomes directly tied to economic reward, as profits for corporate prisons are inextricably bound to an increasing flow of raw material—in this case, inmate bodies.”
Kicenski’s presentation will also seek to offer an analysis of the major forces that have given rise to California’s prison market, including the economic structures and practices within the state; the role of politics and public policy in state government and public campaigns; and the ideological representations of delinquency presented in both state and popular rhetoric.
“In viewing privatization from this perspective, we see that the prison is not a dead object of containment or punishment, but rather a productive practice that defines political platforms and candidacy, gives impulse to public policy, promotes particular union interests and constructs, and influences society’s understanding of race and class,” said Kicenski.
The College of the Canyons Scholarly Presentation “Cashing in on Crime” will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 22, on the main stage of the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC).
Admission to this event is free and open to the public. Seating will begin 30 minutes prior to the program’s start time, and is available on a first come, first served basis.
Attendees can park for free in college lots 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, located off Rockwell Canyon Road adjacent to the PAC.
About the Presenter
Dr. Karyl Kicenski is a communication studies scholar who uses the tools of rhetoric and critical theory to study questions that relate to ideology, propaganda and institutional power.
Kicenski received her Master of Arts in Communication Studies from California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and a doctorate in Cultural Studies from George Mason University
Her prior areas of research have included studies related to the ways that communication is used to construct ideological appeals to power and agency in contemporary society, as well as analysis about the ways in which public communication undergirds the social, political and cultural ideologies which enable power and privilege.
In 2013, Kicenski released the book “Cashing in on Crime: The Drive to Privatize California State Prisons.”
Kicenski began teaching at College of the Canyons in 1994 and became a fulltime faculty member in 1999. She teaches courses in rhetoric, public speaking, communication theory, gender and communication, and interpersonal communication.
In addition, she currently serves as a lecturer at CSUN and UCLA.
For more information about the College of the Canyons Scholarly Presentation “Cashing in on Crime” contact the COC Foundation at (661) 362-3434.