The Heinz Eulau prize is awarded annually for the best article published in Perspectives on Politics in the past calendar year. The award is supported by Cambridge University Press.
Rebecca Thorpe’s article, Perverse Politics: The Persistence of Mass Imprisonment in the Twenty-first Century, examines the political economy of mass incarceration. Thorpe argues that the economic interests of poor, rural areas interact with incarceration policies to create policy lock-in. Her careful empirical analysis suggests that prisons are located in poor rural areas because of the economic benefits they bring and that by providing a stable source of employment to rural and predominantly white communities, prisons play a distributive function that will make the carceral system resistant to reform. Thorpe’s study brings original data to examine a novel argument of importance to the scholarly and policy debate. Though focused on the US, the argument is general in nature and is likely to resonate well beyond the US context.
Special thanks to our committee Aseem Prakash, University of Washington (Chair); Macartan Humphreys, Columbia University; Virginie Guiraudon, Sciences Po