For decades, both incarceration and research on the topic have proliferated. Disciplines within the Western sciences have studied the topic of incarceration through their respective lenses. Decades of data reflect trends and consequences of the carceral state, and based on that data the various disciplines have put forth arguments as to how the trends and consequences are of relevance to their respective fields of study. The research trajectory of incarceration research, however, overlooks the assumptions behind punishment and control and their institutionalization that produce and maintain the carceral state and its study. This omission of assumptions facilitates a focus on outcomes that serve to reinforce Western perspectives, and it contributes to the overall stagnation in the incarceration research produced in Western disciplines. An assessment of the study of the carceral state within the mainstream of American Political Development in the political science discipline provides an example of how the research framework contributes to the overall stagnation, even though the framework of the subfield allows for an historical institutionalization perspective. The theoretical perspectives of Cedric J. Robinson reveal the limits of Western lenses to critically assess the state. The alternative framework he provides to challenge the limits imposed on research production by Western perspectives applies to the argument presented here concerning the limitations that hamper the study of the carceral state.

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