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Doing Time in the DepressionEveryday Life in Texas and California Prisons$
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Ethan Blue

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814709405

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814709405.001.0001

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Thirty Minutes behind the Walls

Thirty Minutes behind the Walls

Prison Radio and the Popular Culture of Punishment

Chapter:
(p.135) 5 Thirty Minutes behind the Walls
Source:
Doing Time in the Depression
Author(s):

Ethan Blue

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814709405.003.0005

This chapter discusses the emergence of radio broadcasts as a new element of penal discipline in the late Depression. As New Deal-era labor laws such as such as the Hawes-Cooper Act (1929) and the Ashurst-Sumners Act (1934) increasingly circumscribed inmate labor, prison radio meshed with other popular cultural forms, including baseball leagues, rodeos, literary magazines, and newspapers, to retrain prisoners in recreational activities appropriate to the welfare state and a Keynesian economy. At the same time, these popular cultural events instructed the free world audience in the risks of breaking the law. The programs were as much for audiences outside the prison as they were for inmates on the inside. The citizens that these broadcasts aimed to create—steeped in the liberal ideologies of consumption, leisure, and athleticism—were at every step consistent with broad transformations in American society.

Keywords:   radio broadcasts, penal discipline, punishment, prison labor, prison radio, rehabilitation

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