Revolutionary Reform: Capitalist Development, Prison Reform, and Executive Power in Mexico
The essay demonstrates the centrality of the penitentiary for the construction of a national state and the search for political hegemony, showing the continuities in the discourse about prison and punishment between the two periods. These continuities find their rationale in the fact that both regimes, despite major differences in other respects, considered the state to be the major regulator of social life and were prepared to use the penitentiary as a metaphor for the political system. The penitentiary, promoted by both the Porfirian community and the congressmen of the 1917 Constitutional Convention, was conceived as a modern instrument for the control of crime but, above all, it was a powerful symbol of state power that promised legitimacy to each regime. In addition to the continuities, the essay also notes key differences between the two sets of policymakers. While the Porfirians stressed the need for political centralization, the revolutionaries at the 1917 convention were much more concerned with preventing the emergence of a new autocracy.