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
Screenshot of the Counted

The Counted

People killed by police in the US The Guardian The Counted is a project by the Guardian – and you – working to count the number of people killed by police and other law enforcement agencies in the United States throughout 2015 and 2016, to monitor their demographics and to tell the stories of how… Read More »The Counted

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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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Captive Nation cover

Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era

Dan Berger In this pathbreaking book, Dan Berger offers a bold reconsideration of twentieth century black activism, the prison system, and the origins of mass incarceration. Throughout the civil rights era, black activists thrust the prison into public view, turning prisoners into symbols of racial oppression while arguing that confinement was an inescapable part of… Read More »Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era

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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
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the Orleans Parish Jail is no place for children – no matter their charge

The Times-Picayune Jarvis DeBerry October 19, 2016 Article about inequality in the justice system More Information

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Eastern State Penitentiary cover

Eastern State Penitentiary

Forged Images Production Cooperative Christine Bowditch January 1, 1998 Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary was built in the 1820s, inspired by Enlightenment ideas and Quaker belief in solitary reflection and penitence. This documentary, illustrated with period lithographs, engravings, and photographs, gives a detailed history of the prison from its initial practice of total solitary confinement through… Read More »Eastern State Penitentiary

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The House I Live in title card

The House I Live In

Independent Lens (PBS) Eugene Jarecki April 8, 2013 For the past 40 years, the war on drugs has resulted in more than 45 million arrests, $1 trillion dollars in government spending, and America’s role as the world’s largest jailer. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available than ever. Filmed in more… Read More »The House I Live In

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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
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Criminal Podcast Episode 49: The Editor

Criminal Podcast Daniel A Gross August 26, 2016 In November of 1988, Robin Woods was sentenced to sixteen years in the notoriously harsh Maryland Correctional Institution. In prison, Robin found himself using a dictionary to work his way through a book for the first time in his life. It was a Mario Puzo novel. While… Read More »Criminal Podcast Episode 49: The Editor

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An icon of a folded page labeled "Class"

Liberty, Justice, and Imprisonment in the United States

Matt Whitt Duke University Discipline(s): Composition, Philosophy, Political Science Syllabus Last Updated: September, 2015 A profound tension runs through the public culture of the United States. On the one hand, the U.S. declares itself to be a “land of liberty,” in which individual freedom is cherished and protected. On the other hand, the U.S. has… Read More »Liberty, Justice, and Imprisonment in the United States

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Hope and Hopelessness in an Age of Mass Incarceration

Lori Gruen Wesleyan University, Philosophy Discipline(s): Philosophy Syllabus Last Updated: August, 2016 This is an advanced course taught through the Center for the Humanities for interdisciplinary/multi-disciplinary undergraduate students. This interdisciplinary course, grounded on philosophical reflections on hope, respect, and exclusion, will critically explore the ethical, social, and political issues raised by mass incarceration. We will be… Read More »Hope and Hopelessness in an Age of Mass Incarceration

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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
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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Captive Nation cover

Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era

Dan Berger In this pathbreaking book, Dan Berger offers a bold reconsideration of twentieth century black activism, the prison system, and the origins of mass incarceration. Throughout the civil rights era, black activists thrust the prison into public view, turning prisoners into symbols of racial oppression while arguing that confinement was an inescapable part of… Read More »Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era

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Michelle Alexander speaking at a podium

2013 George E. Kent Lecture

University of Chicago Michelle Alexander February 21, 2013 Michelle Alexander, highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, Associate Professor of Law at Ohio State University, and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, delivers the 30th Annual George E. Kent Lecture, in honor of the late George E. Kent, who… Read More »2013 George E. Kent Lecture

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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
An icon of a folded page labeled "Class"

Shrinking the Carceral State

Jonathon Simon UC Berkeley, School of Law Discipline(s): Law Syllabus Last Updated: February, 2016 This class will examine aspects of the Carceral State in the US and state and policy solutions for shrinking it. simon criminal justice seminar 2016.February.17

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Executing Freedom cover

Executing Freedom: The Cultural Life of Capital Punishment in the United States

University of Chicago press Daniel LaChance November 1, 2016 In the mid-1990s, as public trust in big government was near an all-time low, 80% of Americans told Gallup that they supported the death penalty. Why did people who didn’t trust government to regulate the economy or provide daily services nonetheless believe that it should have… Read More »Executing Freedom: The Cultural Life of Capital Punishment in the United States

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Death Row

the American Film Institute, the Polaroid Foundation, the Playboy Foundation, the Levi Strauss Foundation Bruce Jackson Diane Christian July 6, 1979 Death Row is a film about daily life on Death Row in Texas. When the film was made in March 1979, 114 men were housed in the special death cells of Ellis prison’s rows J-21… Read More »Death Row

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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
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(Non)Scenes of Captivity: The Common Sense of Punishment and Death

Radical History Review Dylan Rodríguez October 1, 2006 Article about the global regime of policing and punishment More Information

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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

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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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