Probation systems rely on urine screens to sort people for punishment. Probationers who test “clean” show that they are worthy of remaining in the community, while those who test “dirty” make themselves vulnerable to incarceration. This article draws comparisons between the testing mechanisms used in modern probation systems and the testing mechanisms used in the medieval ordeal. In undergoing a medieval ordeal, “probands” went through a physical test to determine whether their bodies were pure or impure. Those who failed the test were led away for punishment. Most people subjected to the medieval ordeal were poor, as are most people in modern probations systems who must prove that their urine is “clean.”

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