Today I received the first copies of Body Searches and Imprisonment.  The book touches upon an important and sensitive topic. Indeed, body searches are invasive, potentially degrading, and therefore deeply controversial control measures.  But at the same time they are widely used in prison systems across the globe: such measures are perceived as indispensable to prevent forbidden substances, weapons or communication devices from entering into the prison.

The book is published by Palgrave Macmillan, as part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and PenologySeries. It has twelve chapters. The full table of contents (and the online content if you have access to SpringerLink) is available here.

First drafts of the chapters included in Body Searches and Imprisonment were presented at an international workshop that we organized at KU Leuven (21 April 2022). In that workshop we aimed to explore body search practices in prisons from different angles (criminology, sociology, philosophy and law) and study such practices comparatively in different national contexts within Europe. What exactly makes such control measures problematic in a prison context? How do such practices come to be regulated in an international and European context? How are such rules translated into national law? To what extent are laws and rules respected, bent, circumvented, denied? And what does the future hold for body searches?

The book deals with body search practices in prisons but it could also be read by scholars and practitioners interested in policing, youth justice or migration studies. Indeed, many of the challenges that are being discussed throughout the book – in particular, the tension between dignity and security, between ‘humane standards’ and ‘institutional efficiency’, as Erving Goffman once put it – are omnipresent in the world of punishment and control.

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