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Themes

Teaching the Carceral organizes material by resource type (scholarship, news source, etc.) and by broad topical themes. Here, users can browse by themes and subthemes related to their scholarly or pedagogical focus. We chose these themes based on conversations with educators and students, and during the site’s beta period, we welcome feedback on theme names and categorization.

Movements

This theme includes movements seeking to change current practices of policing and imprisonment. Users looking for materials on policy proposals, constitutional challenges, abolitionism, transformative justice, community-based safety, and grassroots movements will find it here. We welcome feedback on this organization during our beta period.

Subthemes

Abolitionism
Black Lives Matter
Prison and Policing Reform
Transformative Justice

Example Resources
An infographic breaking down a prison population

Million Dollar Hoods

Los Angeles operates the largest jail system on earth Kelly Lytle Hernandez Yoh Kawano Albert Kochaphum At a cost quickly approaching $1 billion annually, more than 17,000 people are incarcerated every night in county jails and city lockups. But not every neighborhood within Los Angeles is equally impacted by L.A.’s massive jail system. Enter the… Read More »Million Dollar Hoods

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Crimes of Gender and Sex: Producing and Imprisoning Criminals In the Age of Mass Incarceration

Sara Matthiesen Brown University Discipline(s): American Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Crime and Justice Studies, History Syllabus Last Updated: September, 2016 Growing interest in mass incarceration has brought new attention to longstanding critiques of the criminal justice system. This course looks beyond failings such as “tough on crime” sentencing and racist policing to examine criminal justice… Read More »Crimes of Gender and Sex: Producing and Imprisoning Criminals In the Age of Mass Incarceration

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Prison Abolition Class

Rev. Jason Lydon Black and Pink Org. Ed Rodman Episcopal Divinity School Syllabus Last Updated: July, 2011 The following is a syllabus for a course on Prison Abolition that was co-taught by the founder of Black and Pink, Jason Lydon. This collection of readings is intended as a primer for readers on the creation and function… Read More »Prison Abolition Class

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Policing and Law

This theme refers to prison’s multiple roles in contemporary society, including the ways imprisonment structures, and is structured by, other institutions. Users looking for material on the economic and social functions of prison will find it here. We welcome feedback on this organization during our beta period.

Subthemes

Criminalization
Death Penalty
Jail and Bail
Legal Issues
New Jim Crow
Police Procedures
War on Drugs
War on Terror

Example Resources
Black image with a drawing of hands holding prison bars, along with text reading "Beyond the Bars: Breaking Through 2014, Beth Richie, University of Illinois at Chicago"

Beyond the Bars: Breaking Through

The Justice Initiative at Columbia University Beth Richie May 30, 2014 Beth Richie Keynote address at the 2014 Beyond the Bars: Breaking Through Conference at Columbia University organized by the Criminal Justice Caucus, The Justice Initiative at Columbia University, the Criminal Justice Initiative: Supporting Children, Families and Communities in collaboration with students, faculty and community… Read More »Beyond the Bars: Breaking Through

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Convict Labor in the American South from the Civil War to the Great Depression

Karin Shapiro Duke University Jackson Skeen Duke University Discipline(s): History, African & African American Studies Syllabus Last Updated: January, 2017 This independent study examines the convict labor system that emerged in the post-Civil War South. The student will explore the political and economic contexts in which convict leasing developed, analyze the demographics of those ensnared in… Read More »Convict Labor in the American South from the Civil War to the Great Depression

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The Red Record website

The Red Record: Revealing Lynching in North Carolina

UNC-Chapel Hill, American Studies Elijah Gaddis and Seth Kotch direct this project. Student historians include Jennifer Davidowitz, Sarah Dwyer, Dallas Ellis, Jared Feeny, Ava Gruchacz, Robert Haisfield, Jennifer Hausler, Harry Heyworth, Kara Kochek, Daniel Lee, Landon Mays, George Pancio Inspired by the Equal Justice Initiative’s report on lynchings in the American South, this project seeks to locate… Read More »The Red Record: Revealing Lynching in North Carolina

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Prison Experience

This theme comprises materials about prisoners’ and outsiders’ experiences of prison. Users looking for materials that convey prisoners’ voices will find them here, as well as materials that focus on solitary confinement, the incarceration of youth and older adults, in-prison programs, and prisoner resistance. We welcome feedback on this organization during our beta period.

Subthemes

Aging in Prison
Prison Education
Prisoner Resistance
Prisoner Voices
Solitary Confinement
Youth Detention

Example Resources
An icon of a folded page labeled "Class"

The Nation’s Prisoners

Joe Lockard Arizona State Universtiy Discipline(s): English Last Updated: January, 2014 Course Level: undergraduate Assignment Summary: Paper assignment comparing military prison memoirs of Ethan Allen and John McCain. Learning Outcomes: Critical writing on prison literature english345prisonliteraturepaper1assignment

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23/7 book cover

23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement

Yale University Press Keramet Reiter Originally meant to be brief and exceptional, solitary confinement in U.S. prisons has become long-term and common. Prisoners spend twenty-three hours a day in featureless cells, with no visitors or human contact for years on end, and they are held entirely at administrators’ discretion. Keramet Reiter tells the history of… Read More »23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement

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The 13th poster

Mass Incarceration and Its Mystification: A Review of the 13th

African American Intellectual History Society Dan Berger October 22, 2016 Critical review of Ava DuVernay’s documentary The 13th  More Information

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Prison and Identity

This theme contains resources pertaining to the disciplining and imprisonment of diverse identities. Users looking for material on the over-representation of people of color in prison, women’s prisons, queer and trans* incarceration, and crimmigration will find it here. We welcome feedback on this organization during our beta period.

Subthemes

Immigrant Detention
LGBTQ Incarceration
Race and Incarceration
Women and Incarceration

Example Resources
Marshall Project logo

The Marshall Project

Nonprofit journalism about criminal justice Various authors August 2, 2016 The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system. We achieve this through award-winning journalism, partnerships with other news outlets and public forums. In all of our work… Read More »The Marshall Project

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Narratives of Female Criminality

Jess Issacharoff Duke University Discipline(s): English, Media Studies, American Studies Syllabus Last Updated: February, 2017 This course will examine common constructions of the female criminal in popular culture, using examples from literature, film and court cases that have captured the public imagination. We will read fiction by Toni Morrison and Oscar Wilde. We will watch films… Read More »Narratives of Female Criminality

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Elementary Genocide cover

Elementary Genocide

The School to Prison Pipeline Rasha Vision Films Rahiem Shabazz July 6, 2013 Elementary Genocide is a documentary executive produced by award winning journalist/filmmaker Rahiem Shabazz. The documentary appeals to a wide general viewership by addressing the social, cultural, political and personal ramifications of how the federal government allots money to each state, to build prisons based on the failure rate… Read More »Elementary Genocide

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Prison and Society

This theme covers prison’s multiple roles in contemporary society, including the ways imprisonment structures, and is structured by, other institutions. Users looking for material on the economic and social functions of prison will find it here. We welcome feedback on this organization during our beta period.

Subthemes

Carceral Geographies
Prison and Public Health
Private Prison Industry
School to Prison Pipeline

Example Resources
Ethics of Captivity website

The Ethics of Captivity

Lori Gruen’s 2015 course, Wesleyan There are a variety of forms of captivity and a wide array of individuals who are kept in captivity. In this blog, we will explore the conditions of captivity (including prisons, zoos, sanctuaries, and others), and explore the variety of ethical and political issues that captivity raises for humans and… Read More »The Ethics of Captivity

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Discipline and Punish cover

Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison

Michel Foucault In this important work, Foucault suggests that such vaunted reforms as the abolition of torture and the emergence of the modern penitentiary have merely shifted the focus of punishment from the prisoner’s body to his soul. A classic work of theory on the birth of the modern prison. More Information

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Graphic of two people in jail

Is America Engaged In A ‘Vicious Circle’ Of Jailing The Poor?

NPR Fresh Air May 11, 2016 Interview with Nancy Fishman, a project manager at the Vera Institute for Justice director, about the high number of people being imprisoned in America because of their inability to pay fines for low-level offenses. More Information

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Theory

This theme covers major theorists of the carceral state, both historical and contemporary, as well materials for ideas about teaching these subjects in the classroom. Users looking for material that explains a theoretical framework, overviews a theorists’ major contributions, or describes teaching philosophies about incorporating sensitive subjects in the classroom will find it here. We welcome feedback on this organization during our beta period.

Subthemes

Theories
Theorists

Example Resources
An icon of a folded page labeled "Class"

Crime and Punishment in American Culture: Power and Poetics

Daniel LaChance Emory University Discipline(s): History Syllabus Last Updated: March, 2016 This class aims to help students understand the ideological, economic, and cultural sources of the punitive turn, the ratcheting up of incarceration and other forms of harsh punishment since the 1970s. It gives equal attention to the  popular representations and imaginings of punishment and the lived experience of… Read More »Crime and Punishment in American Culture: Power and Poetics

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Screenshot of the Early Modern Prisons website

Early Modern Prisons

Exploring gaols, bridewells and other forms of detention, 1500-1800 Rachel Weil Richard Bell Early Modern Prisons is a collective effort to find out what it was like to be locked up in the early modern period. We are interested in the economics and government of the prison, the fees, the food, how alcohol was sold, how… Read More »Early Modern Prisons

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Are Prisons Obsolete cover

Are Prisons Obsolete?

Angela Y. Davis With her characteristic brilliance, grace and radical audacity, Angela Y. Davis has put the case for the latest abolition movement in American life: the abolition of the prison. As she quite correctly notes, American life is replete with abolition movements, and when they were engaged in these struggles, their chances of success… Read More »Are Prisons Obsolete?

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