Correctional Inclinations Using Big Data to Trace Technical Communication in Prisons

About Me

BA: EngLish
MA: English
PHD: Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

A Quick Intro

Ethics in Technical and Professional Communication (TPC)

How did I become interested?

"Ethics of Expediency: Classical Rhetoric, Technology, and the Holocaust"

Steve Katz (1992)

"Here, as in most technical writing, I will argue, in most deliberative rhetoric, the focus is on expediency, on technical criteria as a means to an end. But here expediency and the resulting ethos of objectivity, logic, and narrow focus that characterize the most technical writing, are taken to extremes and applies to the mass destruction of human beings. Here, expediency is an ethical end as well" (p. 257).

Why Big Data?

Site of Study... Prisons


My Theoretical Foundation/s

Discipline and Punish

Foucault (1977)

"Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. . . . [I]n short, that the inmates should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers" (p. 201).

Activity Theory

"Activity networks are linked activity systems–human beings laboring cyclically to transform the object of their labor, drawing on tools and practices to do so. These activities themselves are the nodes, nodes that are constituted by, but transcend, the humans and nonhumans who participate in them" (Spinuzzi, 2008, p. 7).

A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Deleuze and Guattari (1987)

"Schizoanalysis rejects any idea of pretraced destiny, whatever name is given to it--divine, anagogic, historical, economic, structural, hereditary, or syngtagmatic" (p. 13).

Actor Network Theory

"In actor–network theory, actor–networks are assemblages of humans and nonhumans; any person, artifact, practice, or assemblage of these is considered a node in the network and indeed can be an actor–network in itself" (Spinuzzi, 2008, p. 7).

Inclinations: A Critique of Rectitude

Cavarero (2016)

"It is rather to think relation itself as originality and constitutive, as an essential dimension of the human, which--far from limiting itself to putting free and autonomous individuals in relation to each other, as the doctrine of the social impact--calls into question our being creatures who are materially vulnerable and, often in greatly unbalanced circumstances, cosigned to one another" (p. 13).

The Problem

  • With 5% of the world's population in the United States, we house 25% of the word's incarcerated population.
  • Prison populations in the United States have grown 700% from 1970-2005.
  • In a 2014 study of 30 states, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 3 in 4 prisoners released were arrested within 5 years.

The Question/s for this Research

How is "correction" defined?

How is "correction" enacted in prison TCP?

What impacts and correlations exist between TCP in prisons and the rate of "correction" as externally measured by recidivism?

The Method/s

Natural Language Processing

Latent Semantic Analysis

Predictive Modeling

(I think)

The Data

For now...

  • Bureau of Justice Statistics
  • Inmate Handooks

For Later...

  • Correctional Officer Handbooks
  • Social Worker Handbooks
  • Any type of TPC involving the care of inmates...

Collaborations and Support

What It Comes Down to and Why I'm Here...


Extracting narrative structure from a range of disparate, partial, and unreliable event data

Non-traditional Expertise

LAS brings the expertise of non-traditional participants to bear work on intelligence community problems.

Innovation & Integration

LAS collaborators have the opportunity to develop state-of-the-art technologies and to demonstrate them against relevant exemplars across multiple domains.

Thank you!

Eric James Stephens

Clemson University


Created with images by Detmold - "typewriter antiquarian old" • PublicDomainPictures - "black business computer" • Unsplash - "office two people business" • @markheybo - "#help" - other photos:

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