Date of Award



© 2012 Joseph Gousse

Document Type



Political Science

First Advisor

Ali Abdullatif Ahmida

Second Advisor

Jennifer M. Denbow


This thesis examines the issue and causal factors of racial disparity in Maine’s contemporary penal system. More pointedly, this thesis examines the ways in which contemporary Maine society functions to procure the causal factors responsible for conditioning racial minorities as “criminalized” populations, thus stimulating overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. This thesis focuses on Native American populations in the state of Maine and the historical, socio-economic, political, and legal ways in which the state has interacted with and subsequently disenfranchised them. Through a comparative examination of the work of legal scholar Michelle Alexander, the well-established argument of the American racial caste system as it pertains to black minorities is considered and redefined to fit a Mainespecific, Native American-specific context. A theoretical analysis is constructed using the work of Michele Foucault to typify Maine’s criminal justice system and the social structures that support it as belonging to a system of incumbent power and privilege for white citizens. Collectively, this thesis relies on data collected with the permission and assistance of the Maine Department of Corrections in examining and explaining the extent and causality of racial disparity in Maine prisons from complimentary empirical and theoretical perspectives.


Honors thesis