Photo of a panopticon, with a central tower surrounded by cells

What is the Carceral Studies Network Project?

As people struggle to understand their own entanglement with mass incarceration and the carceral state, teachers and learners are designing new courses and producing innovative scholarship on imprisonment, policing, punishment, and community responses to violence. For some of us, these issues lie beyond our core scholarly focus, and many lack specific pedagogical training that can enable us to effectively, respectfully, and creatively engage these controversial issues in the classroom. This site is intended to help.

The Carceral Studies Network hosts resources for those seeking to teach or learn about prisons, policing, and the carceral state. Designed by instructors and students at Duke University, the site is meant to help teachers develop new courses from the ground up, or enrich existing courses with new materials. Learners will also find helpful resources, including texts that can complement assigned readings and syllabi that might facilitate self-study and community-based learning. We hope that this site will be a continually evolving hub for scholarly exchange, innovation, and dialogue, and we encourage users to share their own pedagogical materials with other teachers and learners.


One way the Carceral Studies Network attempts to help scholars and educators share knowledge about mass incarceration and the carceral state is by finely curating resources associated with this topic around a handful of themes. The below six themes were developed out of discussions that occurred in classes and events tied to the Humanities Writ Large funded Emerging Networks project, Mass Incarceration and the Carceral State. Users can browse by these themes (and their various subthemes) to discover resources related to their scholarly or pedagogical focus more easily. During the site’s beta period, we welcome feedback on theme names and categorization.

Main Themes


Prison and Society

Prison Experience

Policing and Law

Prison and Identity


Suggested Resources
Albert Woodfox portrait

Albert Woodfox: “I choose to use my anger as a means for changing things”

the Guardian Rowan Moore October 23, 2016 He spent 43 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana State Penitentiary as one of the ‘Angola Three’. Released in February this year, he talks here about survival, the support of the Black Panthers, and how little change he sees in the US. More Information


Detention and Incarceration

Andrew Dilts Loyola Marymount University Discipline(s): Political Science Syllabus Last Updated: August, 2015 This course asks what punishment in the form of incarceration and detention means in a modern democratic state and what this particular form of punishment reveals about conceptions of personal responsibility and subjectivity in the Western tradition. DetentionIncarceration

Free CeCe! poster

Free CeCe!

Laverne Cox Jac Gares October 22, 2016 On her way to the store with a group of friends, Chrishaun Reed “CeCe” McDonald was brutally attacked. While defending her life, a man was killed. After a coercive interrogation, CeCe was incarcerated in a men’s prison in Minnesota. An international campaign to free CeCe garnered significant support from… Read More »Free CeCe!



Suggested Research Resources
Bryan Stevenson talking on a stage

We Need to Talk About an Injustice

TED Talks Bryan Stevenson March 1, 2012 In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America’s justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country’s black male population has been… Read More »We Need to Talk About an Injustice



A main goal of the Carceral Studies Network is to increase the volume of research being done on mass incarceration and the carceral state. The Research section of the site hopes to support unique scholarship in this subject area by curating materials across genres and media. This section allows users to browse scholarly articles and books, multimedia films and podcasts, news aggregators, from popular films like Fruitville Station to innovative projects like HAL: States of Incarceration. For those just beginning research in this subject area, the suggested resources to the left offer a great place to start your scholarship.



Another main goal of the Carceral Studies Network is to grow instruction on the subject of mass incarceration and the carceral state. The Teaching section of the site sets out to scaffold teachers’ incorporation of materials about this subject in their classrooms. This section allows teachers to browse course syllabi and classroom assignments that have been generously shared by other instructors and remix and reuse them in their courses. The site also contains resources for teaching about mass incarceration and the carceral state in the classroom, as well how to teach in a prison settings. For those new to the subject or just beginning to think about how to incorporate the subject into their courses, the suggested resources to the right are a great place to start.

Suggested Teaching Resources
Diagram showing 3 levels around a person: intimate, personal, and social

Other People’s Problems

Student Distancing, Epistemic Responsibility, and Injustice Studies in Philosophy and Education Matt S. Whitt June, 2015 In classes that examine entrenched injustices like sexism or racism, students sometimes use “distancing strategies” to dissociate themselves from the injustice being studied. Education researchers argue that distancing is a mechanism through which students, especially students of apparent privilege,… Read More »Other People’s Problems