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February 24, 2016


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As to "set[ting] this discussion in motion," I don't doubt that your New Republic and New Rambler pieces played a role, as did your blogging. I'd thought they were preceded by, among other things, a 50-60 page anonymous critique that was rejected summarily by Wisconsin -- not to everyone's satisfaction.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

Ford didn't stop making cars after the Edsel.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

Using her book in a classroom setting would be like me citing Judge Judy in an actual courtroom. Great New Rambler piece.


Seems to me that the NYT Magazine piece along with the one in New York Magazine took the air out of the criticism by Lubet,Cam pos and the anonymous grad student who started this. I thought they did a good job nailing her but in the broader world, their analysis seems to have fizzled out. I suspect in the ethnography community, her reputation has been weakened but not in any public discussion. She has to be a lock for tenure at Wisconsin since otherwise, they'd be admitting that they really didn't exonerate her but I don't think she'll move on in the field from here. Her book no doubt will continue to be used in classes throughout America just as The Coming of Age in Samoa was long after the profession had accepted that the book was flawed.

A Sociologist

I'm no Goffman apologist, but did want to point you to some recent news that appears to corroborate the collusion between police and the hospitals:
"Around noon on July 21, Curnell was taken from Edisto Island by ambulance to the hospital as she complained of nausea and vomiting. She was diagnosed in the emergency room with gastroenteritis, an irritation of the stomach and intestines.

"At some point at the hospital, it was discovered that she had a bench warrant in a 2011 shoplifting case. She had been put on a payment plan in April 2012 to cover $1,148.90 in fines related to the charge, according to court records, but she quit paying the following January. After she didn’t respond to a letter from the court, the warrant was issued in August 2014.

"No one could tell The Post and Courier how law enforcement got word of the warrant as she lay in the hospital last summer."

Steve L.

Sociologist: Thank you for providing this link; it is extremely interesting. I would not say that a single arrest in Charleston "corroborates" the claim of a "standard practice" in Philadelphia, much less the story of three arrests on one night, but it is definitely worth looking into.

I have never said that arrests in hospitals are impossible, but only that they are not "routine" and constant.

Among other things, Goffman describes “the cops who crowd the local emergency room and run through their database the names of Black young men walking in the door.”

But in any case, the incident in this story may be revealing, and I intend to research it further.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

Unless she was causing some sort of disturbance at the hospital, how would law enforcement know she was being hospitalized? I don't believe for a second that a physician, nurse or Social Worker would run her on Leads or NCIC or pick up the phone and "drop the dime." The next step is to check with the Charleston newspaper reporter. This was perhaps a case of imprecise writing or factual errors--or half truths/sloppiness? I frequently see that in my jurisdiction's local newspapers where legal language, proceedings and criminal charges are mangled. I see this on Child Welfare matters as well. It is frustrating to see imprecise language. My best guess is that there was an immediate problem AFTER being discharged from the hospital that attracted the attention of police. In any case, Professor Lubet, please follow up on this---this story "Shocks the Conscience" if true.

A Sociologist

I agree that there are other potential causes leading law enforcement to become aware of this individual. However, given that the only reason this story has come to light is that the individual died in jail (an extremely unlikely occurrence), it is reasonable for us to assume that multiple other individuals have been moved from hospital to jail, but those cases have not come to light.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

The problem I have with the Charleston matter is that nothing makes sense or is inconsistent with the reality of the criminal justice system that I see daily. If this woman was as ill as the article purports, why not just "get rid" of the problem and push her back to the hospital or calling for EMT's? That would be the path of "least resistance." Overwhelmed actors in a volume, underfunded criminal system are good at pushing away problematic people. They are there to triage and "stop the bleeding." That is why jails and courthouses are not ideal to treat for mental health, addiction, economic or other chronic issues. (By the way, don't call me callous or cynical)

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