Disposable Bodies: Human Dignity and Incarceration in the United States Open Access

Pleiss, Kathleen (Spring 2021)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/xd07gt99r?locale=en


This thesis explores incarceration in the United States of America and its impact on incarcerated individuals’ human dignity. It also looks at how dehumanization in prisons aligns with the goals of punishment, international norms, and the definition of dignity. In Chapter 1, I define human dignity, using philosophy, the United Nations, and Supreme Court cases. In Chapter 2, I examine the traditional rationales for punishment. In Chapter 3, I look at current carceral practices that strip away human dignity. In Chapter 4, I explore justifications for this sort of punishment. Finally, in Chapter 5, I describe reforms that could be implemented to restore human dignity to incarcerated individuals. 

Table of Contents

Introduction                                                                                                                         1

Chapter 1: Defining Dignity                                                                                              6

Chapter 2: The Rationales for Punishment                                                                   11

Chapter 3: Current Carceral Practices                                                                            18

            Part 1: Particularly Abhorrent Carceral Practices                                            18

            Part 2: Practices Inherent to the United States’ Prison System                    25

Chapter 4: Unjustifiable Incarceration                                                                           30

Chapter 5: What Next?                                                                                                       36

Conclusion                                                                                                                            42

Bibliography                                                                                                                         44

About this Honors Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files