After four decades of mass incarceration in the U.S., the disproportionate number of black men in prisons has contributed to an epidemic of black women struggling to support fragile families. Yet the literature is scant on how African American women are affected by the imprisonment of their partners. Drawing on case studies and firsthand accounts, the author brings needed perspective to the political, economic and psychological challenges they face--including the experience of symbolic imprisonment or "serving time on the outside."
As recently as five years ago mass incarceration was widely considered to be a central, permanent feature of the political and social landscape. The number of people in U.S. prisons is still without historic parallel anywhere in the world or in U.S. history. But in the last few years, the population has decreased, in some states by almost a third. A broad consensus is emerging to reduce prison rolls. Politicians have called for repealing the harshest sentencing laws of the war on drugs, abolishing mandatory minimums and closing correctional facilities. Does the decrease in the prison population herald the dismantling of mass incarceration? This book provides an answer. Drawing on original research from across New York State, the contributors argue that while massive decarceration is taking place, the outcome to date is not the one wished for by reformers, namely a more just system. While drug law reform is clearly upon us, for example, a moral panic about heroin addiction and phantom meth labs has recently reached a fever pitch. As the penitentiary population drops and prisons close, the number of people in jail has swelled. New intelligence-led policing, and the rise of a reentry industry together have led to more surveillance and less social justice. Together these developments lead to justice disinvestment as the state sheds direct responsibility for the criminal justice system to the private and non-profit sector, while it extends its reach through new forms of community-based supervision, surveillance and policing into poor neighborhoods and communities of color. Celebration may be premature, in other words. Having endowed a group that is already disproportionately poor and people of color with the stigma of criminality, the state has left the formerly incarcerated and their communities to their fate. The future we face appears to be neither emancipatory reform nor simply the continuation of past mass incarceration. The challenge of freedom, on a scale not seen since the Reconstruction, remains before us.
Told with equal parts raw honesty and unbridled compassion, All Day recounts a year in Liza Jessie Peterson's classroom at Island Academy, the high school for inmates detained at New York City's Rikers Island. A poet and actress who had done occasional poetry workshops at the correctional facility, Peterson was ill-prepared for a full-time stint teaching a full GED curriculum program for the incarcerated youth. For the first time faced with full days teaching the rambunctious, hyper, and fragile adolescent inmates, "Ms. P" comes to understand the essence of her predominantly Black and Latino students as she attempts not only to educate them, but to instill them with a sense of self-worth long stripped from their lives.
"I have quite a spirited group of drama kings, court jesters, flyboy gangsters, tricksters, and wannabe pimps all in my charge, all up in my face, to educate," Peterson discovers. "Corralling this motley crew of bad-news bears to do any lesson is like running boot camp for hyperactive gremlins. I have to be consistent, alert, firm, witty, fearless, and demanding, and most important, I have to have strong command of the subject I'm teaching." Discipline is always a challenge, with the students spouting street-infused backtalk and often bouncing off the walls with pent-up testosterone. Peterson learns quickly that she must keep the upper hand-set the rules and enforce them with rigor, even when her sympathetic heart starts to waver.
Despite their relentless bravura and antics-and in part because of it-Peterson becomes a fierce advocate for her students. She works to instill the young men, mostly black, with a sense of pride about their history and culture: from their African roots to Langston Hughes and Malcolm X. She encourages them to explore and express their true feelings by writing their own poems and essays. When the boys push her buttons (on an almost daily basis) she pushes back, demanding that they meet not only her expectations or the standards of the curriculum, but set expectations for themselves-something most of them have never before been asked to do. She witnesses some amazing successes as some of the boys come into their own under her tutelage.
Peterson vividly captures the prison milieu and the exuberance of the kids who have been handed a raw deal by society and have become lost within the system. Her time in the classroom teaches her something, too-that these boys want to be rescued. They want normalcy and love and opportunity.
During the 1970s, grassroots women activists in and outside of prisons forged a radical politics against gender violence and incarceration. Emily L. Thuma traces the making of this anticarceral feminism at the intersections of struggles for racial and economic justice, prisoners' and psychiatric patients' rights, and gender and sexual liberation.All Our Trials explores the organizing, ideas, and influence of those who placed criminalized and marginalized women at the heart of their antiviolence mobilizations. This activism confronted a "tough on crime" political agenda and clashed with the mainstream women's movement's strategy of resorting to the criminal legal system as a solution to sexual and domestic violence. Drawing on extensive archival research and first-person narratives, Thuma weaves together the stories of mass defense campaigns, prisoner uprisings, broad-based local coalitions, national gatherings, and radical print cultures that cut through prison walls. In the process, she illuminates a crucial chapter in an unfinished struggle--one that continues in today's movements against mass incarceration and in support of transformative justice.
In the 1970s, while politicians and activists outside prisons debated the proper response to crime, incarcerated people helped shape those debates though a broad range of remarkable political and literary writings.
Lee Bernstein explores the forces that sparked a dramatic prison art renaissance, shedding light on how incarcerated people produced powerful works of writing, performance, and visual art. These included everything from George Jackson's revolutionary Soledad Brother to Miguel Pinero's acclaimed off-Broadway play and Hollywood film Short Eyes. An extraordinary range of prison programs--fine arts, theater, secondary education, and prisoner-run programs--allowed the voices of prisoners to influence the Black Arts Movement, the Nuyorican writers, New Journalism, and political theater, among the most important aesthetic contributions of the decade.
By the 1980s and '90s, prisoners' educational and artistic programs were scaled back or eliminated as the war on crime escalated. But by then these prisoners' words had crossed over the wall, helping many Americans to rethink the meaning of the walls themselves and, ultimately, the meaning of the society that produced them.
These essays treat the legal, financial, ethical, political, institutional, and social dimensions of the most important element of America's correctional crisis: prison overcrowding. The collection may become a standard work in the field, especially for those who question the feasibility and wisdom of building more prisons. The need for rational policy-making that links prison sentences with available prison space comes through clearly and forcefully. Chapters by well-known authorities describe the extent of overcrowding in prisons and jails, review current law regarding the constituitonality of overcrowded prison facilities, and summarize research on causes and consequences. . . . Highly recommended. Choice
Because of the recent explosion in the American prison population, which has risen more than 40 percent in just six years, overcrowding has reached crisis proportions and conditions within prisons continue to deteriorate. This book takes a close look at the policy implications of that crisis, addressing constitutional issues, economic and political questions, and a wide range of possible long- and short-term solutions. Written by some of the most experienced academics and consultants now working the field, it provides a theoretical orientation and up-to-date factual background for each of the issues and practical policy alternatives that are studied.
For the first time in four decades, prison populations are declining and politicians have reached the consensus that mass imprisonment is no longer sustainable. At this unique moment in the history of corrections, the opportunity has emerged to discuss in meaningful ways how best to shape efforts to control crime and to intervene effectively with offenders. The American Prison: Imagining a Different Future, by Francis T. Cullen, Cheryl, Lero Johnson, and Mary K. Stohr, pulls together established correctional scholars to imagine what this prison future might entail. Each scholar uses his or her expertise to craft—in an accessible way for students to read—a blueprint for how to create a new penology along a particular theme. For example, one contributor writes about how to use existing research expertise to create a prison that is therapeutic and another provides insight on how to create a “feminist
This encyclopedia provides a rigorous and comprehensive summary of correctional systems and practices and their evolution throughout US history.
Topics include sentencing norms and contemporary developments; differences between local jails and prisons and regional, state, and federal systems; violent and nonviolent inmate populations; operations of state and federal prisons, including well-known prisons such as ADX-Florence, Alcatrez, Attica, Leavenworth, and San Quentin; privately run, for-profit prisons as well as the companies that run them; inmate culture, including prisoner-generated social hierarchies, prisoner slang, gangs, drug use, and violence; prison trends and statistics, including racial, ethnic, age, gender, and educational breakdowns; the death penalty; and post-incarceration outcomes, including recidivism.
The set showcases contributions from some of the leading scholars in the fields of correctional systems and practices and will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in learning more about American prisons, jails, and community corrections.