Patrick Lopez-Aguado

Stick Together and Come Back Home

Racial Sorting and the Spillover of Carceral Identity

University of California Press 2018

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network May 31, 2018 Sarah E. Patterson

How do systems of incarceration influence racial sorting inside and outside of prisons? And how do the social structures within prisons spill out into...

How do systems of incarceration influence racial sorting inside and outside of prisons? And how do the social structures within prisons spill out into neighborhoods? In his new book, Stick Together and Come Back Home: Racial Sorting and the Spillover of Carceral Identity (University of California Press, 2018),  Patrick Lopez-Aguado answers these questions and more. Focusing on a juvenile detention center, an alternative education center, and a job placement center in California, Lopez-Aguado uses his ethnographic data and interviews to better understand sorting within prisons. Finding that prisons sort inmates based on race, geographical location/neighborhoods, and connections inside the prison, these group labels often have negative consequences inside and outside prison walls. This book also speaks to other issues of incarceration, including “secondary prisonization”, or how incarceration affects families of the incarcerated, as well as the lingering effects of incarceration on the individual after they leave. Within the system, respondents often rely on “cliquing” up for survival and comradery with both style and space serving important roles in constructing identities. Lopez-Aguado pays particular attention to the ways in which race and gender are defined not only by other inmates but also by the system itself. Overall, this book presents a holistic view of the “carceral social order” and the consequences for those inside and outside its walls.

This book is interesting and accessible to a wide audience; key terms and concepts are defined clearly and given thorough examples. This book would fit perfectly into a Criminology course at the graduate level and could be the basis for an upper level undergraduate Criminology course. Social stratification and race scholars will also find this book of interest.


Sarah E. Patterson is a postdoc at the University of Western Ontario. You can tweet her at @spattersearch.

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