Crossing Borders and Criminalizing Identity: The Disintegrated Subjects of Administrative Sanctions. (Keramet Reiter and Susan Bibler Coutin, Law and Society Review, 51 (567). 2017)
This paper draws on in-depth, qualitative interviews that examine individual experiences in two different legal contexts: deportation regimes and supermax prisons. Through putting these contexts and experiences into dialogue, we identify common legal processes of punishment experiences across both contexts. Specifically, the U.S. legal system re-labels immigrants (as deportable noncitizens) and supermax prisoners (as dangerous gang offenders). This re-labeling begins a process of othering, which ends in categorical exclusions for both immigrants and supermax prisoners. As individuals experience this categorical exclusion, they cross multiple borders and boundaries–often against their will–moving from prison to detention center to other countries beyond the U.S. border, and from isolation to prison to “free” society. In both cases, the state action that subjects experience as punishment is civil and, therefore, nominally not punitive. Ultimately, excluded individuals find themselves in a space of legal nonexistence. By examining these common processes and experiences, we argue that a new kind of subject is revealed: a disintegrating subject (as opposed to a juridical or disciplinary subject) whose exclusion reinforces the power of the state.