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A research guide on mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex.
Articles by writers such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Noam Chomsky, Mark Dow, Judy Green, Tracy Huling and Christian Parenti chronicle the injustices of prison privatization, class and race in the justice system, our quixotic drug war, the rarely discussed prison AIDS crisis and a judicial system that rewards mostly those with significant resources or the desire to name names. Correctional facilities have become a profitable growth industry, for companies like Wackenhut that run them and companies like Boeing that use cheap prison labour.
Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control - relegating millions to a permanent second-class status - even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.
Since the 1980s prison construction and incarceration rates in the U.S. have been rising exponentially, evoking huge public concern about their proliferation, their recent privatisation and their promise of enormous profits. But these prisons house hugely disproportionate numbers of people of colour, betraying the racism embedded in the system, while studies show that increasing prison sentences has had no effect on crime. Here, esteemed civil rights activist Angela Davis lays bare the situation and argues for a radical rethinking of our rehabilitation programmes.
This major volume of papers by leading criminologists, sociologists and historians, sets out what is known about the political and penological causes of the phenomenon of mass imprisonment. Mass imprisonment, American-style, involves the penal segregation of large numbers of the poor and minorities. Imprisonment has become a central institution for the social control of the urban poor. Other countries are now looking to the USA to see what should be learned from this massive and controversial social experiment. This book describes mass imprisonment's impact upon crime, upon the minority communities most affected, upon social policy and, more broadly upon national culture.
In this sensitively told tale of suffering, brutality, and inhumanity, Worse Than Slavery is an epic history of race and punishment in the deepest South from emancipation to the Civil Rights Era--and beyond. Immortalized in blues songs and movies like Cool Hand Luke and The Defiant Ones, Mississippi's infamous Parchman State Penitentiary was, in the pre-civil rights south, synonymous with cruelty. Now, noted historian David Oshinsky gives us the true story of the notorious prison, drawing on police records, prison documents, folklore, blues songs, and oral history, from the days of cotton-field chain gangs to the 1960s, when Parchman was used to break the wills of civil rights workers who journeyed south on Freedom Rides.
In 1868, the state of Georgia began to make its rapidly growing population of prisoners available for hire. The resulting convict leasing system ensnared not only men but also African American women, who were forced to labor in camps and factories to make profits for private investors. In this vivid work of history, Talitha L. LeFlouria draws from a rich array of primary sources to piece together the stories of these women, recounting what they endured in Georgia's prison system and what their labor accomplished. LeFlouria argues that African American women's presence within the convict lease and chain-gang systems of Georgia helped to modernize the South by creating a new and dynamic set of skills for black women. At the same time, female inmates struggled to resist physical and sexual exploitation and to preserve their human dignity within a hostile climate of terror. This revealing history redefines the social context of black women's lives and labor in the New South and allows their stories to be told for the first time.
Drawing upon black feminist criticism and a diverse array of archival materials, Sarah Haley uncovers imprisoned women's brutalization in local, county, and state convict labor systems, while also illuminating the prisoners' acts of resistance and sabotage, challenging ideologies of racial capitalism and patriarchy and offering alternative conceptions of social and political life.
Youth Incarceration and the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Just 16 percent of female students, Black girls make up more than one-third of all girls with a school-related arrest. The first trade book to tell these untold stories, Pushout exposes a world of confined potential and supports the growing movement to address the policies, practices, and cultural illiteracy that push countless students out of school and into unhealthy, unstable, and often unsafe futures. For four years Monique W. Morris, author of Black Stats, chronicled the experiences of black girls across the country whose intricate lives are misunderstood, highly judged--by teachers, administrators, and the justice system--and degraded by the very institutions charged with helping them flourish.
This book offers a research and comparison-driven look at the school-to-prison pipeline, its racial dynamics, the connections to mass incarceration, and our flawed educational climate--and suggests practical remedies for change. It provides readers with an understanding of the realities of the school-to-prison pipeline--its history, development, and racialized context and meaning--as well as the continued significance of race and other socially differentiating factors in shaping public policy and everyday decisions regarding "deviance," "discipline," and social control.
Drawing on years of research, activism, and legal advocacy, Queer (In)Justice is a searing examination of queer experiences--as "suspects," defendants, prisoners, and survivors of crime. The authors unpack queer criminal archetypes--like "gleeful gay killers," "lethal lesbians," "disease spreaders," and "deceptive gender benders"--to illustrate the punishment of queer expression, regardless of whether a crime was ever committed. Tracing stories from the streets to the bench to behind prison bars, the authors prove that the policing of sex and gender both bolsters and reinforces racial and gender inequalities. A groundbreaking work that turns a "queer eye" on the criminal legal system, Queer (In)Justice illuminates and challenges the many ways in which queer lives are criminalized, policed, and punished.
Pathologized, terrorized, and confined, trans/gender non-conforming and queer folks have always struggled against the prison industrial complex. Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith bring together current and former prisoners, activists, and academics for a new understanding of how race, gender, ability, and sexuality are lived under the crushing weight of captivity. Through a politic of gender self-determination, this collection argues that trans/ queer liberation and prison abolition must be grown together. From rioting against police violence and critiquing hate crimes legislation, to prisoners demanding access to HIV medications, and far beyond, Captive Genders is a challenge for us all to join the struggle.
People in U.S. prisons are routinely subjected to physical, sexual, and mental abuse. While this has been documented in male prisons, women in prison often suffer in relative anonymity. Women Inside addresses this critical social justice issue, empowering incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women to share the stories that have previously been silenced.
Black women in marginalized communities are uniquely at risk of battering, rape, sexual harassment, stalking and incest. Through the compelling stories of Black women who have been most affected by racism, persistent poverty, class inequality, limited access to support resources or institutions, Beth E. Richie shows that the threat of violence to Black women has never been more serious, demonstrating how conservative legal, social, political and economic policies have impacted activism in the US-based movement to end violence against women. Richie argues that Black women face particular peril because of the ways that race and culture have not figured centrally enough in the analysis of the causes and consequences of gender violence. As a result, the extent of physical, sexual and other forms of violence in the lives of Black women, the various forms it takes, and the contexts within which it occurs are minimized--at best--and frequently ignored. Arrested Justice brings issues of sexuality, class, age, and criminalization into focus right alongside of questions of public policy and gender violence, resulting in a compelling critique, a passionate re-framing of stories, and a call to action for change.
Luana Ross writes, "Native Americans disappear into Euro-American institutions of confinement at alarming rates. People from my reservation appeared to simply vanish and magically return. [As a child] I did not realize what a 'real' prison was and did not give it any thought. I imagined this as normal; that all families had relatives who went away and then returned." In this pathfinding study, Ross draws upon the life histories of imprisoned Native American women to demonstrate how race/ethnicity, gender, and class contribute to the criminalizing of various behaviors and subsequent incarceration rates. Drawing on the Native women's own words, she reveals the violence in their lives prior to incarceration, their respective responses to it, and how those responses affect their eventual criminalization and imprisonment. Comparisons with the experiences of white women in the same prison underline the significant role of race in determining women's experiences within the criminal justice system.
In the United States today, one in every thirty-one adults is under some form of penal control, including one in eleven African American men. How did the "land of the free" become the home of the world's largest prison system? Challenging the belief that America's prison problem originated with the Reagan administration's War on Drugs, Elizabeth Hinton traces the rise of mass incarceration to an ironic source: the social welfare programs of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society at the height of the civil rights era. Johnson's War on Poverty policies sought to foster equality and economic opportunity. But these initiatives were also rooted in widely shared assumptions about African Americans' role in urban disorder, which prompted Johnson to call for a simultaneous War on Crime.
As a result of America's controversial push towards the privatization of its justice system, a growing number of well-known and politically influential U.S. corporations--and subsequently their shareholders--are now cashing in on a prison trade whose profit potential is tied directly to the growth of the prison population. The Perpetual Prisoner Machine explains how the new prison-industrial complex has capitalized upon the public's fear of crime--which has its origins in violent media content--to help bring about the "hard on crime" policies that have led to our prison-filling, and therefore profitable, "war on crime."
America incarcerates a greater percentage of its population than any other country and is one of only two countries that requires arrested individuals to pay bail to be released from jail while awaiting trial. After arrest, the bail decision is the single most important cause of mass incarceration, yet this decision is often neglected since it is made in less than two minutes. Shima Baradaran Baughman draws on constitutional rights and new empirical research to show how we can reform bail in America. Tracing the history of bail, she demonstrates how it has become an oppressive tool of the courts that disadvantages minority and poor defendants and shows how we can reform bail to alleviate mass incarceration.
An international best seller dissects the globalization of penal policies "made in U.S.A." as part of the spread of neoliberalism. Now available in English for the first time in an expanded edition, "Prisons of Poverty" reveals how the Washington consensus on economic deregulation and welfare retrenchment was extended to encompass punitive crime control because the invisible hand of the market necessitates and calls forth the iron fist of the penal state.
On September 9, 1971, nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. Holding guards and civilian employees hostage, the prisoners negotiated with officials for improved conditions during the four long days and nights that followed. On September 13, the state abruptly sent hundreds of heavily armed troopers and correction officers to retake the prison by force. Their gunfire killed thirty-nine men--hostages as well as prisoners--and severely wounded more than one hundred others. In the ensuing hours, weeks, and months, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners. Ultimately, New York State authorities prosecuted only the prisoners, never once bringing charges against the officials involved in the retaking and its aftermath and neglecting to provide support to the survivors and the families of the men who had been killed.
In 1971, Attica's prison yard massacre shocked the public, prisoners, and political leaders across the United States. Massachusetts residents pledged to prevent such slaughter from ever happening there, and the governor agreed. Thus began a move for reform that eventually led to the prisoners at Walpole's Massachusetts Correctional Institute winning control of its day-to-day operations. When the Prisoners Ran Walpole brings this vital history to life, revealing what can happen when there is public will for change and trust that the incarcerated can achieve it.
In 1974, women imprisoned at New York's maximum-security prison at Bedford Hills staged what is known as the August Rebellion. Protesting the brutal beating of a fellow prisoner, the women fought off guards, holding seven of them hostage, and took over sections of the prison. While many have heard of the 1971 Attica prison uprising, the August Rebellion remains relatively unknown even in activist circles. Resistance Behind Bars is determined to challenge and change such oversights. As it examines daily struggles against appalling prison conditions and injustices, Resistance documents both collective organizing and individual resistance among women incarcerated in the U.S.
On Thursday, June 23, 1977, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners’ Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119 (1977), that prison inmates do not have a constitutionally protected right under the First Amendment to organize and join prisoner labor unions. Writing for the majority, Justice William Rehnquist took judicial notice that the inmate union in North Carolina was a glorified outlet for inmate anger designed to foment racial hatred in North Carolina’s prison system. But, history suggest otherwise. The North Carolina Prisoners’ Labor Union (NCPLU), the first prisoner union in the South, not only condemned racial hatred, it actively sought the creation of a pluralist society behind prison walls. Its leadership contained no dangerous criminal element. Instead, educated black power activists, many of whom were imprisoned as an effort to stall their activism, operated it. Absent from the Jones opinion, and the academic discussions that followed, is any mention of the issues proposed in this study – the realities of the Black Power Movement behind prison walls.
From Black Power to Prison Power presents a historical analysis of law and race during the Black Power Movement, as well as their import in the Jones decision. It offers a clearer context for the domestic and international imperatives that characterized prisoners’ rights politics during the Black Power era, and details how social factors, as opposed to the rule of law, galvanized the highest court in the United States to forever alter the course of prisoners’ rights law.
Prison, Inc. provides a first-hand account of life behind bars in a controversial new type of prison facility: the private prison. These for-profit prisons are becoming increasingly popular as state budgets get tighter. Yet as privatization is seen as a necessary and cost-saving measure, not much is known about how these facilities are run and whether or not they can effectively watch over this difficult and dangerous population. For the first time, Prison, Inc. provides a look inside one of these private prisons as told through the eyes of an actual inmate, K.C. Carceral who has been in the prison system for over twenty years.
Relocating Authority examines the ways Japanese Americans have continually used writing to respond to the circumstances of their community’s mass imprisonment during World War II. Using both Nikkei cultural frameworks and community-specific history for methodological inspiration and guidance, Mira Shimabukuro shows how writing was used privately and publicly to individually survive and collectively resist the conditions of incarceration.
Once a prominent radio reporter, Mumia Abu-Jamal is now in a Pennsylvania prison awaiting his state-sanctioned execution. In 1982 he was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner after a trial many have criticized as profoundly biased. Live From Death Row is a collection of his prison writings--an impassioned yet unflinching account of the brutalities and humiliations of prison life. It is also a scathing indictment of racism and political bias in the American judicial system that is certain to fuel the controversy surrounding the death penalty and freedom of speech.
On May 2, 1973, Black Panther Assata Shakur (aka JoAnne Chesimard) lay in a hospital, close to death, handcuffed to her bed, while local, state, and federal police attempted to question her about the shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that had claimed the life of a white state trooper. Long a target of J. Edgar Hoover's campaign to defame, infiltrate, and criminalize Black nationalist organizations and their leaders, Shakur was incarcerated for four years prior to her conviction on flimsy evidence in 1977 as an accomplice to murder. This intensely personal and political autobiography belies the fearsome image of JoAnne Chesimard long projected by the media and the state. With wit and candor, Assata Shakur recounts the experiences that led her to a life of activism and portrays the strengths, weaknesses, and eventual demise of Black and White revolutionary groups at the hand of government officials. The result is a signal contribution to the literature about growing up Black in America that has already taken its place alongside The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the works of Maya Angelou. Two years after her conviction, Assata Shakur escaped from prison. She was given political asylum by Cuba, where she now resides.