Even in prison, rebellions are contagious. In 2016, a national prison strike led us to compile the Prison Abolition Syllabus on this site as a way to bring together some of the urgent and informed writings on the history of prisons and prison rebellion. Several developments have prompted us to update the syllabus: most importantly, a new national prison strike began on #August21. Incarcerated people chose the anniversary of the death of legendary prisoner author and revolutionary George Jackson to launch their strike. The strike will go until September 9, the anniversary of when the Attica rebellion began. The 2018 strike demands blend specific policy changes (such as repealing the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Truth in Sentencing Act, and the Sentencing Reform Act) with broad transformations (including “an end to prison slavery” and “immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.) The demands have provided a broad umbrella allowing prisoners to respond to local grievances. Within days, the strike had spread to an immigrant detention center in Washington as well as a prison in Canada.
Continuing the impressive national coordination begun in the 2016 strike, the current strike has garnered increasing media attention. Yet it takes place in a different context: the Trump administration came to power promising the racist canard of “law and order.” While private prison stocks spiked after Trump’s victory, most prisons remain government run and operated by individual states. And several cities or states have pursued limited reforms. New York City has removed the fee people had to pay when calling their loved ones from jail. But after a broad coalition came together in the #CLOSErikers campaign to successfully bring about the planned closing of the jail, Mayor de Blasio took their call to “build communities” and announced they would be opening four new “community-based facilities” in its place. California recently passed a controversial policy that would end cash bail but through a digital risk-assessment form of monitoring that activists have called “e-carceration.” The reform landscape remains fraught, as the right-wing billionaire Koch Brothers back new policing measures and rapper Jay-Z has invested millions in an app that offers a digital surveillance alternative to cash bail.
With more left Democrats echoing the call to #AbolishICE, we see how calls for abolition can quickly move from margin to mainstream. Thanks largely to the work of Black radical women such as Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Joy James, and Mariame Kaba as well as feminist-centered groups such as INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, Critical Resistance, and the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls (“The National Council” for short), most of today’s racial justice activists identify as abolitionists. Over twenty years after Davis, Gilmore, and the late Rose Braz helped launch Critical Resistance, and over a decade after the publication of the seminal texts Are Prisons Obsolete? and Golden Gulag, visions of prison abolition are more popular and sophisticated than ever.
Observing this landscape, the 2018 prison strike aims to not only win demands but build capacity of incarcerated people to resist and survive. Prison Abolition Syllabus 2.0 is a resource for those already doing this work and those looking to learn more. We hope it will help deepen understandings, renew commitments, and carry the goal of prison abolition forward from the 2018 strike.
Week 1. Theories and Origins of Punishment
- Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishments (Cambridge University Press, 1995).
- Jeremy Bentham, The Panopticon and Other Prison Writings (Verso, 1995).
- Simone Browne, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness (Duke University Press, 2015).
- Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? (Seven Stories Press, 2003).
- Colin Dayan, The Law is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons (Princeton University Press, 2011).
- Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Pantheon, 1977).
- Paul Knepper and Anja Johansen, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the History of Crime and Criminal Justice (Oxford University Press, 2016).
- Glenn Loury, et al., Race, Incarceration, and American Values (MIT Press, 2008).
- Manning Marable, “Black Prisons and Punishment in a Racist/Capitalist State,” in How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America: Problems in Race, Political Economy, and Society (Haymarket Books, 2015; 1st edition 1983), 94–115.
- Norval Morris and David Rothman, eds., The Oxford History of the Prison (Oxford University Press, 1995).
- Caleb Smith, The Prison and the American Imagination (Yale University Press, 2011).
- Patrick Alexander, From Slave Ship to Supermax: Mass Incarceration, Prisoner Abuse and the New Neo-Slave Novel (Temple, 2018).
Week 2. Race, Sex, Labor, and Prisons in the Early Republic
- Estelle Freedman, Their Sisters’ Keepers: Women’s Prison Reform in America, 1830-1930 (University of Michigan Press, 1981).
- Adam Jay Hirsch, The Rise of the Penitentiary: Prisons and Punishment in Early America (Yale University Press, 1992).
- Regina Kunzel, Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality (University of Chicago Press, 2008).
- Michele Lise Tarter and Richard Bell, eds., Buried Lives: Incarcerated in Early America (University of Georgia Press, 2012).
- Jen Manion, Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015).
- Rebecca McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment: Protest, Politics, and the Making of the American Penal State, 1776-1941 (Cambridge University Press, 2008).
- Dario Melossi and Massimo Pavarini, The Prison and the Factory: Origins of the Penitentiary System (Barnes and Noble Books, 1981).
- Michael Meranze, Laboratories of Virtue: Punishment, Revolution, and Authority in Philadelphia, 1760-1835 (University of North Carolina Press, 1996).
- Kelly Lytle Hernández, City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771–1965 (University of North Caroline Press, 2017).
Primary Sources and Multimedia
- Jen Manion, “Liberty’s Prisoner’s: Prisons and Prison Life in Early America,” podcast audio, Ben Franklin’s World.
- Eastern State Penitentiary, directed by Christine Bowditch (Forged Images Production Cooperative, 1998).
Week 3. Convict Leasing, the Chain Gang, and Contesting the Southern Prison Regime
- Douglas Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (Doubleday, 2008).
- Mary Ellen Curtin, Black Prisoners and their World, Alabama, 1865-1900 (University Press of Virginia, 2000).
- Talitha LeFlouria, Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).
- Talitha LeFlouria, “‘Under The Sting Of The Lash’: Gendered Violence, Terror, and Resistance in the South’s Convict Camps,” The Journal of African American History 100,3 (Summer 2015): 366–84.
- Alex Lichtenstein, Twice the Work of Free Labor: The Political Economy of Convict Labor in the New South (Verso, 1996).
- Timothy Gilfoyle, “‘America’s Greatest Criminal Barracks’: The Tombs and the Experience of Criminal Justice in New York City, 1838-1897,” Journal of Urban History 29,5 (July 2003): 525–54.
- Sarah Haley, No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).
- LaShawn D. Harris, “The ‘Commonwealth of Virginia vs. Virginia Christian’: Southern Black Women, Crime & Punishment in the Progressive Era,” The Journal of Social History 47,4 (Summer 2014): 922–42.
- Matthew Mancini, One Dies, Get Another: Convict Leasing in the American South, 1866-1928 (University of South Carolina Press, 1996).
- David Oshinsky, Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice (Free Press, 1996).
- Dennis Childs, Slaves of the State: Black Incarceration from the Chain Gang to the Penitentiary (University of Minnesota Press, 2015).
Primary Sources and Multimedia
- Library of Congress, “Convict Lease System.”
- Ida B. Wells, “The Convict Lease System,” 1893.
- “Slavery by Another Name,” website.
- Slavery by Another Name, directed by Sam Pollard (PBS, 2012).
- 13th, directed by Ava DuVernay (Kandoo Films, 2016).
Week 4. Punishment in the New Metropolis
- Jeffrey Adler, “Less Crime, More Punishment: Violence, Race, and Criminal Justice in Early Twentieth-Century America,” The Journal of American History 102,1 (2015): 34–46.
- Miroslava Chávez-García, States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California’s Juvenile Justice System (University of California Press, 2012).
- W.E.B. Du Bois, The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (University of Philadelphia, 1899).
- Shaun L. Gabbidon, W.E.B. Du Bois on Crime and Justice: Laying the Foundations of Sociological Criminology (Ashgate Publishing, 2007).
- Kali Nicole Gross, “African American Women, Mass Incarceration, and the Politics of Protection,” The Journal of American History 102,1 (2015): 25–33.
- Kali Nicole Gross, Colored Amazons: Crime, Violence, and Black Women in the City of Brotherly Love, 1880-1910 (Duke University Press, 2006).
- Kali Nicole Gross, Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America (Oxford University Press, 2016).
- Kali Nicole Gross and Cheryl D. Hicks, “Introduction—Gendering the Carceral State: African American Women, History, and the Criminal Justice System,” The Journal of African American History 100,3 (Summer 2015): 357–66.
- Kelly Lytle Hernández, “Hobos in Heaven: Race, Incarceration, and the Rise of Los Angeles, 1880–1910,” Pacific Historical Review 83,3 (2014): 410–47.
- Cheryl D. Hicks, Talk With You Like a Woman: African American Women, Justice, and Reform in New York, 1890-1935 (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).
- Cheryl D. Hicks, “‘In Danger of Becoming Morally Depraved’: Single Black Women, Working-Class Black Families, and New York State’s Wayward Minor Laws, 1917-1928,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 151,6 (June 2003): 2,077–121.
- Khalil Gibran Muhammad, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Harvard University Press, 2010).
- Sowande’ Mustakeem, “‘Armed With A Knife In Her Bosom’: Gender, Violence, And The Carceral Consequences Of Rage In The 19th Century,” The Journal of African American History 100,3 (Summer 2015): 385–405.
- Cookie Woolner, “‘Woman Slain In Queer Love Brawl’: African American Women, Same-Sex, Desire, And Violence In The Urban North,” The Journal of African American History 100,3 (Summer 2015): 406–27.
Week 5. Anti-Lynching and Prisoner Defense Campaigns
- James Acker, Scottsboro and its Legacy: The Cases That Challenged American Legal and Social Justice (Praeger, 2007).
- Mia Bay, To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells (Hill and Wang, 2010).
- Dan T. Carter, Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South (Louisiana State University Press, 1979).
- Andrew Cornell, Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the Twentieth Century (University of California Press, 2016).
- Melvyn Dubofsky, We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the World (University of Illinois, 2013).
- Megan Ming Francis, Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State (Cambridge University Press, 2014).
- Christina Heatherton, “University of Radicalism: Ricardo Flores Magon and Leavenworth Penitentiary,” American Quarterly 66,3 (September 2014): 557–81.
- Rebecca N. Hill, Men, Mobs, and Law: Antilynching and Labor Defense in U.S. Radical History (Duke University, 2007).
- James W. Messerschmidt, “‘We Must Protect Our Southern Women’: On Whiteness, Masculinities, and Lynching,” in Race, Gender, and Punishment: From Colonialism to the War on Terror, Mary Bosworth and Jeanne Flavin, eds. (Rutgers University Press, 2007), 77–94.
- James Miller, Remembering Scottsboro: The Legacy of an Infamous Trial (Princeton University Press, 2009).
- James Miller, Susan D. Pennybacker, and Eve Rosenhaft, “Mother Ada Wright and the International Campaign to Free the Scottsboro Boys, 1931-1934,” American Historical Review, 106,2 (2001): 387–430.
Primary Sources and Multimedia
- The Scottsboro Boys: An American Tragedy, directed by Barak Goodman and Daniel Anker (PBS, 2000).
- Andy Wright, “Letter to the Editors: Plea from a Scottsboro Boy,” July 24, 1937.
- Scottsboro Boys, Appeal from Death Cells, May 1932.
- Scottsboro Protest Exhibit, Modern American Poetry, University of Illinois.
- “The Scottsboro Boys” Trials, 1931-1937, website.
- Ida B. Wells, “Lynch Law in America,” 1900.
- Ida B. Wells, “This Awful Slaughter,” 1909.
- “The Long List: Compiling A Lynching Database,” website.
Week 6. Liberal Punishment and Its Discontents
- Ethan Blue, Doing Time in the Depression: Everyday Life in Texas and California Prisons (New York University, 2012).
- Kathleen Cairns, Hard Time at Tehachapi: California’s First Women’s Prison (University of New Mexico Press, 2009).
- Mary Ellen Curtin, “‘Please Hear Our Cries’: The Hidden History of Black Prisoners in America,” in The Punitive Turn: New Approaches to Race and Incarceration, Deborah McDowell, Claudrena Harold, and Juan Battle, eds. (University of Virginia Press, 2013), 29–44.
- Edward J. Escobar, “The Unintended Consequences of the Carceral State: Chicana/o Political Mobilization in Post-World War II America,” Journal of American History 102,1 (2015): 174–84.
- Adam Goodman, “The Long History of Self-Deportation, NACLA Report on the Americas” 49, 2 (2017): 152-158.
- Marie Gottschalk, The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
- Volker Janssen, “When the ‘Jungle’ Met the Forest: Public Work, Civil Defense, and Prison Camps in Postwar California,” The Journal of American History 96, 3 (2009): 702–26.
- Naomi Murakawa, First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America (Oxford University Press, 2014).
- Mira Shimabukuro, Relocating Authority: Japanese Americans Writing to Redress Mass Incarceration (University of Colorado Press, 2015).
- Heather Ann Thompson, “Rethinking Working Class Struggle through the Lens of the Carceral State: Toward a Labor History Inmates and Guards,” LABOR: Studies in the Working Class History of the Americas 8,3 (2011): 15–45.
- Naomi Paik, Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps Since WWII (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).
Primary Sources and Multimedia
- The Suyama Project, Digital Archive of Japanese American Resistance to Incarceration.
Week 7. The Civil Rights Movement, Prisoners, and Legal Reform
- Robert Chase, “We Are Not Slaves: Rethinking the Rise of Carceral States through the Lens of the Prisoners’ Rights Movement,” The Journal of American History 102,1 (2015): 73–86.
- Zoe Colley, Ain’t Scared of Your Jail: Arrest, Imprisonment, and the Civil Rights Movement (University of Florida, 2013).
- Malachi Crawford, Black Muslims and the Law: Civil Liberties from Elijah Muhammad to Muhammad Ali (Lexington Books, 2015).
- Eric Cummins, The Rise and Fall of California’s Radical Prison Movement (Stanford University Press, 1994).
- Malcolm M. Feeley and Edwin L. Rubin, Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America’s Prisons (Cambridge University Press, 1998).
- James Jacobs, Stateville: The Penitentiary in Mass Society (University of Chicago Press, 1977).
- Toussaint Losier, “‘. . . For Strictly Religious Reasons,’ Cooper v. Pate and the Origins of the Prisoners’ Rights Movement,” Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, 15, 1-2 (2013): 19–38.
- Malcolm X and Alex Haley,The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Random House, 1965).
- Donna Murch, Living For the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).
- Garrett Felber, “‘Shades of Mississippi’: The Nation of Islam’s Prison Organizing, the Carceral State, and the Black Freedom Struggle,” Journal of American History 105, 1 (June 2018): 71-95.
Primary Sources and Multimedia
- Robert Moses, “Letter from a Mississippi Jail,” 1961.
- Martin Luther King, “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963.
- Arrest records of Rosa Parks, National Archives.
- “‘Jail, No Bail,’ A Strategy of Civil Disobedience.”
- “Ain’t Scared of Your Jails, 1960-1961,” Eyes on the Prize, Blackside, Inc (Films Media Group, 2014).
Week 8. The Prison Rebellion Years
- Mumia Abu-Jamal, Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. (City Lights Books, 2009).
- Bettina Aptheker, The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angela Davis (International Publishers, 1975).
- Bettina Aptheker and Angela Davis, eds., If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance (Third Press, 1971).
- Ronald Berkman, Opening the Gates: The Rise of the Prisoners’ Movement (Lexington Books, 1979).
- Dan Berger, Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era (University of North Carolina Press, 2014).
- Lee Bernstein, America Is the Prison: Arts and Politics in Prison in the 1970s (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).
- Jamie Bissonette, When the Prisoners Ran Walpole: A True Story in the Movement for Prison Abolition (South End Press, 2008)
- Daniel Burton-Rose, Guerrilla USA: The George Jackson Brigade and the Anticapitalist Underground of the 1970s (University of California Press, 2010).
- Jordan Camp, Incarcerating the Crisis: Freedom Struggles and the Rise of the Neoliberal State (University of California Press, 2016).
- Daniel S. Chard, “Rallying for Repression: Police Terror, ‘Law-and-Order’ Politics, and the Decline of Maine’s Prisoner Rights Movement,” The Sixties 5, 1 (2012): 47–73.
- Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice (McGraw-Hill, 1968).
- Alan Eladio Gómez, “Feminism, Torture, and the Politics of Chicana/Third World Solidarity: An Interview with Olga Talamante,” Radical History Review 101 (2008): 160–78.
- Alan Eladio Gómez, “Resisting Living Death at Marion Federal Penitentiary, 1972,” Radical History Review 96 (Fall 2006): 58–86.
- Diane Hope and Warren Schaich, eds., “The Prison Letters of Martin Sostre: Documents of Resistance,” The Journal of Black Studies 7,3 (1977): 281–300.
- George Jackson, Soledad Brother: The Prison Writings of George Jackson (Coward-McCann, 1970).
- James Jacobs, “The Prisoners’ Rights Movement and Its Impacts, 1960-1980,” Crime and Justice 2 (1980): 429–70.
- Tony Platt and Paul Takagi, eds., Punishment and Penal Discipline (Social Justice, 1980).
- Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography (L. Hill, 1987).
- Jessica Mitford, Kind and Usual Punishment: The Prison Business (Knopf, 1975).
- Donald Tibbs, From Black Power to Prison Power: The Making of Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners’ Labor Union (Palgrave, 2012).
- Heather Ann Thompson, Blood is in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy (Pantheon, 2016).
- Erik Olin Wright, The Politics of Punishment: A Critical Analysis of Prisons in America (Harper Colophon, 1973).
- Dan Berger and Toussaint Losier, Rethinking the American Prison Movement (Routledge, 2018).
- Toussaint Losier, “Against ‘Law and Order’ Lockup: the 1970 NYC Jail Rebellions,” Race and Class 59, 1 (2017): 3-35.
Primary Sources and Multimedia
- Frame-up! The Imprisonment of Martin Sostre, directed by Joel Sucher, Steven Fischler, and Howard Blatt (Pacific Street Films, 1974).
- Freedom Archives, Prisons on Fire: George Jackson, Attica, and Black Liberation, audio documentary (Freedom Archives, 2001).
- “The Attica Liberation Faction Manifesto of Demands,” 1971.
Week 9. Anticarceral Feminism
- Joanne Belknap, The Invisible Woman: Gender, Crime, and Justice (Watsworth, 1996).
- Hazel V. Carby. “Policing the Black Woman’s Body in an Urban Context.” Critical Inquiry 18, no. 4 (1992): 738-55.
- Christina Greene, “‘She Ain’t No Rosa Parks’: The Joan Little-Murder Case And Jim Crow Justice In The Post-Civil Rights South,” The Journal of African American History, 100,3 (Summer 2015): 428–47.
- Jacklyn Huey and Michael Lynch, “The Image of Black Women in Criminology: Historical Stereotypes as Theoretical Foundation,” in Race, Crime, and Justice: A Reader, Shaun Gabbidon and Helen Taylor Greene, eds. (Routledge, 2005), 127–40.
- INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, ed., The Color of Violence: The Incite! Anthology (South End Press, 2006).
- Joy James, ed., The Angela Y. Davis Reader (Blackwell, 1998).
- Vikki Law, Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women (PM Press, 2009).
- Toya Like and Jody Miller, “Race, Inequality, and Gender Violence,” in The Many Colors of Crime: Inequalities of Race, Ethnicity, and Crime in America, Ruth Peterson, Lauren Krivo, John Hagan, eds. (New York University Press, 2006), 157–76.
- Danielle McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance – A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (Alfred Knopf, 2010).
- Genna Rae McNeil, “The Body, Sexuality, and Self-Defense in State vs. Joan Little, 1974-1975,” The Journal of African American History 93,2 (2008): 235–61.
- Laura McTighe, with Deon Haywood. “‘There is NO Justice in Louisiana’: Crimes Against Nature and the Spirit of Black Feminist Resistance.” Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Culture, Politics and Society 19, no. 3 (2017): 261-285.
- Laura McTighe, with Deon Haywood. “Front Porch Revolution: Resilience Space, Demonic Grounds, and the Horizons of a Black Feminist Otherwise.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 44, no. 1 (2018): 25-52.
- Lena Carla Palacios, “Challenging Convictions: Indigenous and Black Race-Radical Feminists Theorizing the Carceral State and Abolitionist Praxis in the United States and Canada.” Meridians 15 (2016): 137-165.
- Beth Richie, Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation (NYU Press, 2012).
- Dorothy Roberts. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. New York: Vintage, 1997.
- Emily Thuma, “Lessons in Self-Defense: Gender Violence, Racial Criminalization, and Anticarceral Feminism,” Women’s Studies Quarterly 43, 3-4 (2015): 52–71.
- Emily Thuma, “Against the Prison/Psychiatric State: Anti-violence Feminisms and the Politics of Confinement in the 1970s,” Feminist Formations 26, 2 (2014): 26-51.
- Emily Thuma, All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing, and the Feminist Fight to End Violence (University of Illinois Press, 2019).
Primary Sources and Multimedia
Week 10. Expanding the Prison Industrial Complex
- Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New Press, 2010).
- Lawrence Bobo and Victor Thompson, “Racialized Mass Incarceration: Poverty, Prejudice, and Punishment,” in Doing Race: 21 Essays for the 21st Century, Hazel Markus and Paula Moya, eds., (Norton, 2010), 322–55.
- Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (University of California Press, 2007).
- Jennifer Gonnerman, Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett (Picador, 2005).
- Elizabeth Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Harvard University Press, 2016).
- Joy James, States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons (St. Martin’s Press, 2000).
- Julilly Kohler-Hausmann, “The Attila the Hun Law”: New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Making of a Punitive State,” Journal of Social History 44,1 (2010): 71–95.
- Julilly Kohler-Hausmann, Getting Tough: Welfare and Imprisonment in 1970s America (Princeton University Press, 2017).
- Jill McCorkel, Breaking Women: Gender, Race, and the New Politics of Imprisonment (NYU Press, 2013).
- Deborah McDowell, Claudrena Harold, and Juan Battle, eds., The Punitive Turn: New Approaches to Race and Incarceration (University of Virginia Press, 2013).
- Christian Parenti, Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis (Verso, 2001).
- Mary Pattillo, David Weiman, and Bruce Western, eds., Imprisoning America: The Social Effects of Mass Incarceration (Russell Sage Foundation, 2004).
- Doris Marie Provine, Unequal Under the Law: Race in the War on Drugs (University of Chicago Press, 2007).
- Robert Perkinson, Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire (Metropolitan Books, 2010).
- Henry Ruth and Kevin R. Reitz, The Challenge of Crime: Rethinking Our Response (Harvard University Press, 2003).
- Jonathan Simon, Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (Oxford University Press, 2007).
- Michael Tonry, Punishing Race: A Continuing American Dilemma (Oxford University Press, 2011).
- Jacqueline Wang, Carceral Capitalism (MIT Semiotext[e], 2018).
- Keramet Reiter, 23/7: Pelican Bay and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement (Yale University Press, 2016)
- “Prisons and Class Warfare,” an interview with Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Historical Materialism.
Primary Sources and Multimedia
- Michael J. Love, excerpt from “The Prison-Industrial Complex: An Investment in Failure,” May 1998.
- Broken on All Sides: Race, Mass Incarceration and New Visions for Criminal Justice in the U.S., directed by Matthew Pillischer (Matthew Pillischer, 2012).
- Prison Policy Initiative, website.
- Knotted Line, website
- Brett Story, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (Grasshopper Films, 2017).
Week 11. Health, Justice, and Resistance in the Neoliberal Order
- Katherine Beckett, Making Crime Pay: Law and Order in Contemporary American Politics (Oxford University Press, 1997).
- Safiya Bukhari, The War Before: The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther (Feminist Press, 2010).
- Tara Herivel and Paul Wright, eds., Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money From Mass Incarceration (New Press, 2007).
- Nancy Kurshan, Out of Control: A 15-Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons (Freedom Archives, 2013).
- Gordon Lafer, “The Politics of Prison Labor: A Union Perspective,” in Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America’s Poor, Tara Herivel and Paul Wright, eds. (Routledge, 2003), 120–28.
- Mona Lynch, Sunbelt Justice: Arizona and the Transformation of American Punishment (Stanford Law Books, 2010).
- Staughton Lynd, Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising (PM Press, 2011).
- Members of the ACE Program, Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, Breaking the Walls of Silence: AIDS and Women in a New York State Maximum Security Prison (Overlook Books, 1998).
- Matt Meyer, ed. Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free Political Prisoners (PM Press, 2008).
- Donna Murch, “Paying for Punishment: The New Debtors’ Prison,” Boston Review, August 1, 2016.
- Lydia Pelot-Hobbs, “Organized Inside and Out: The Angola Special Civics Project and the Crisis of Mass Incarceration,” Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society 15,3 (2013): 199–217.
- Becky Pettit, Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress (Russell Sage Foundation, 2012).
- Susan Rosenberg, An American Radical: Political Prisoner in My Own Country (Citadel Books, 2011).
- Loïc Wacquant, Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Security (Duke University Press, 2009).
Primary Sources and Multimedia
- Critical Resistance and INCITE! “Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial Complex,” 2001.
- Esther Kaplan, “Organizing Inside,” Poz Magazine, November 1, 1998.
- Mothers of Bedford, directed by Jenifer McShane (Women Make Movies, 2011).
- The Last Graduation: The Rise and Fall of College Programs in Prison, directed by Barbara Zahm (Deep Dish TV, 1997).
- Tattooed Tears, directed by Joan Churchill and Nicholas Broomfield (Gugo Film Production, 1978).
Week 12. Juvenile Justice
- Nell Bernstein, Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison (The New Press, 2016).
- Erica R. Meiners, For the Children?: Protecting Innocence in a Carceral State (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).
- Alexandra Cox, Trapped in a Vice: The Consequences of Confinement for Young People (Rutgers University Press, 2018).
- Geoff K. Ward, The Black Child-Savers: Racial Democracy and Juvenile Justice (University of Chicago Press, 2012).
- Sabina Vaught, Compulsory: Education and the Dispossession of Youth in a Prison School (University of Minnesota Press, 2017).
- Tera Eva Agyepong, The Criminalization of Black Children: Race, Gender, and Delinquency in Chicago’s Juvenile Justice System, 1899–1945 (University of North Caroline Press, 2018).
- Damien Sojoyner, First Strike: Educational Enclosures in Black Los Angeles (University of Minnesota Press, 2017).
- Anthony Nocella, David Stovall, and Priya Parmar, From Education to Incarceration: Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline (International Academic Publishers, second edition, 2014).
- Victor Rios with Rudy Sanda, Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys (Tantor Media, 2017).
- Carl Suddler, Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York (NYU Press, 2019).
Week 13. The End of Policing
- Angela J. Davis, ed. Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (Vintage, 2017).
- James Forman Jr. Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017).
- Alex Vitale, The End of Policing (Verso, 2017).
- Paul Butler, Chokehold: Policing Black Men (The New Press, 2017).
- Micol Seigel, Violence Work: State Power and the Limits of Police (Duke University Press, 2018).
- Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton, eds., Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter (Verso, 2016).
- Max Felker-Kantor, Policing Los Angeles: Race, Resistance, and the Rise of the LAPD (University of North Carolina Press, 2018).
- David Correia and Tyler Wall, Police: A Field Guide (Verso, 2018).
- Marc Neocleous, The Fabrication of Social Order: A Critical Theory of Police Power (Pluto Press, 2000).
- Sidney Harring, Policing a Class Society: The Experience of American Cities, 1865-1915 (second edition, Haymarket, 2017).
- Andrea Ritchie, Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color (Beacon, 2017).
- Marisol Lebron, Policing Life and Death: Race, Violence, and Resistance in Puerto Rico (UC Press, 2019).
- Stuart Schrader, “More Than Cosmetic Changes: The Challenges of Experiments with Police Demilitarization in the 1960s and 1970s,” Journal of Urban History (April 2017).
Week 14. Carceral Intersections
- Chris Chapman, Allison C. Carey, and Liat Ben-Moshe, eds., Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
- Jenna M. Loyd, Matt Michelson, and Andrew Burridge, eds., Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis (University of Georgia Press, 2012).
- Joey Mogul, Andrea Ritchie, and Kay Whitlock, eds., Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States (Beacon Press, 2011).
- Julia Oparah, “Feminism and the (Trans)Gender Entrapment of Gender Nonconforming Prisoners,” UCLA Women’s Law Journal 18,2 (2012): 239–71.
- Mary Beth Pfeiffer, Crazy in America: The Hidden Tragedy of our Criminalized Mentally Ill (Basic Books, 2007).
- Luana Ross, Inventing the Savage: The Social Construction of Native American Criminality (University of Texas Press, 1998).
- Donald Specter, “Cruel and Unusual Punishment of the Mentally Ill in California’s Prisons: A Case Study of a Class Action Suit,” Social Justice 21,3 (1994): 109–16.
- Eric Stanley and Nat Smith, eds., Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (AK Press, 2011).
- Eric Stanley, Dean Spade, and Queer (In)Justice, “Queering Prison Abolition, Now?” American Quarterly 64,1 (2012): 115–27.
- Judah Schept, Progressive Punishment: Job Loss, Jail Growth, and the Neoliberal Logic of Carceral Expansion (NYU Press, 2015).
Primary Sources and Multimedia
- Behind Bars, directed by Louis Theroux (Kanopy Streaming, 2015).
Week 15. Voices from Inside
- Jack Henry Abbott, In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison (Random House, 1981).
- Mumia Abu Jamal, Live From Death Row (Harper Perennial, 1996).
- Mumia Abu Jamal, Writings on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings (City Lights, 2014).
- Bruce Franklin, ed., Prison Writing in 20th Century America (Penguin, 1998).
- Tara Green, ed., From the Plantation to the Prison: African-American Confinement Literature (Mercer University Press, 2008).
- Joy James, ed., The New Abolitionists: (Neo)Slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison Writings (State University of New York Press, 2005).
- Kevin Rashid Johnson, Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art (Kersplebedeb, 2010).
- Joy James, ed., Imprisoned Intellectuals: America’s Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003).
- Dylan Rodríguez, Forced Passages: Imprisoned Radical Intellectuals and the U.S. Prison Regime (University of Minnesota Press, 2006).
- James Yaki Sayles, Meditations on Franz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings (Kersplebedeb, 2010).
- Shaka Senghor, Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison (Convergent Books, 2016).
- Yusef Shakur, The Window 2 My Soul: My Transformation from a Zone 8 Thug to a Father and Freedom Fighter (Urban Guerilla Publishing, 2008).
- Colton Simpson, Inside the Crips: Life Inside L.A.’s Most Notorious Gang (St. Martin’s Press, 2005).
- Doran Larson, ed. The Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America (Michigan State University Press, 2014).
- Sanyika Shakur, Stand Up, Struggle Forward: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings on Nation, Class, and Patriarchy (Kersplebedeb, 2013).
- Ethan Hoffman and John McCoy, Introduction to new edition by Dan Berger, Concrete Mama: Prison Profiles from Walla Walla (University of Washington Press, 2018).
- Susan Burton, Becoming Mrs. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women (New Press, 2017).
- Ed Mead, Lumpen: The Autobiography of Ed Mead (Kersplebedeb, 2015).
- Raul R. Salinas, edited by Louis Mendoza, raulrsalinas and the Jail Machine: My Weapon is My Pen (University of Texas Press, 2006).
Primary Sources and Multimedia
- Prisoners at Sing Sing Prison, excerpt from “Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters.”
- What I Want My Words to Do to You: Voices from a Maximum Security Women’s Prison, directed by Eve Ensler (PBS Home Video, 2004).
- Mumia, Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal, directed by Stephen Vittoria (First Run Features, 2013).
Week 16. #AbolishICE
- Aviva Chomsky, Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal (Beacon, 2014).
- Kelly Lytle Hernández, MIGRA! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol (University of California Press, 2010).
- Kenyon Zimmer, “Positively Stateless: Marcus Graham, the Ferrereo-Sallitto Case, and the Anarchist Challenges to Race and Deportation,” in The Rising Tide of Color, Moon-Ho Jung, ed. (University of Washington, 2014), 128–58.
- Chris Zepeda-Millan, Latino Mass Mobilization: Immigration, Racialization, and Activism (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
- Amalia Pallares, ¡Marcha! : Latino Chicago and the Immigrant Rights Movement (University of Illinois Press, 2010).
- Amalia Pallares, Family Activism: Immigrant Struggles and the Politics of Non-Citizenship (Rutgers University Press, 2014).
- Mark Dow, American Gulag: Inside U.S. Immigration Prisons (University of California Press, 2005).
- Jenna Loyd, Matt Mitchelson, and Andrew Burridge, Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis (University of Georgia Press, 2012).
- Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton University Press, 2014).
- Torrie Hester, Deportation: The Origins of U.S. Policy (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017).
- Torrie Hester, “Deportability and the Carceral State,” Journal of American History 102, 1 (June 2015): 141–151.
- Rania Unzueta, Maru Mora Willalpnado, and Angélica Cházaro, “We Fell in Love in a Hopeless Place: A Grassroots History from #Not1More to Abolish ICE,” Medium, June 29, 2018.
Week 17. The Future of Prison Activism
- Hadar Aviram, Cheap on Crime: Recession-Era Politics and the Transformation of American Punishment (University of California Press, 2015).
- Dan Berger, “Social Movements and Mass Incarceration: What is to be Done?” Souls 15, 1-2 (2013), 3–18.
- CR10 Publications Collective, Abolition Now: Ten Years of Strategy and Struggle Against the Prison Industrial Complex (AK Press, 2008).
- Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “The Worrying State of the Anti-Prison Movement,” Social Justice Journal, February 23, 2015.
- Marie Gottschalk, Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics (Princeton University Press, 2015).
- Ernest Drucker, ed. Decarcerating America: From Mass Punishment to Public Health (New Press, 2018).
- Kelly Lytle Hernández, “Amnesty or Abolition: Felons, Illegals, and the Case for a New Abolition Movement,” Boom: A Journal of California 1,4 (Winter 2011): 54–68.
- Keramet Reiter, “The Pelican Bay Hunger Strike: Resistance within the Structural Constraints of a US Supermax Prison,” South Atlantic Quarterly 113,3 (Summer 2014): 579–611.
- Julia Sudbury, “Reform or Abolition?: Using Popular Mobilizations to Dismantle the Prison-Industrial Complex,” Criminal Justice Matters 77,1 (2009): 17–19.
- Mariame Kaba, David Stein, Dan Berger, “What Abolitionists Do,” Jacobin, August 24, 2017.
- “Towards the Horizon of Abolition: A Conversation with Mariame Kaba,” The Next System Project, November 9, 2017.
- Lydia Pelot-Hobbs, “Scaling Up or Scaling Back? The Pitfalls and Possibilities of Leveraging Federal Interventions for Abolition,” Critical Criminology 26, 3 (2018): 423-441.
Primary Sources and Multimedia
- A Vision for Black Lives, website.
- Mariame Kaba, Prison Culture Blog, website.
- Sentencing Project, website.
- Concrete, Steel and Paint, directed by Cindy Burstein (New Day Films, 2009).
Dan Berger is an associate professor of comparative ethnic studies at the University of Washington Bothell. He is the author or editor of several books, including Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era and Rethinking the American Prison Movement (coauthored with Toussaint Losier), and is developing a digital history of prisons and resistance in Washington state. Follow him on Twitter @dnbrgr.
Garrett Felber is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of Those Who Know Don’t Say: The Nation of Islam, the Black Freedom Movement, and the Carceral State (UNC Press, 2019) and co-author of The Portable Malcolm X Reader with Manning Marable. In 2016, Felber co-founded Liberation Literacy, an abolitionist collective and radical reading group inside and outside Oregon prisons. Follow him on Twitter @garrett_felber.
Kali Gross is Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers University. She is author of the award-winning books Colored Amazons: Crime, Violence and Black Women in the City of Brotherly Love, 1880-1910, and Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America. She is also co-author of A Black Women’s History of the United States with Daina Ramey Berry (Beacon Press, 2019). Follow her on Twitter @KaliGrossPhD.
Elizabeth Hinton is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Departments of History and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of the award-winning book From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Harvard University Press, 2016). In March 2018, she co-organized (with Garrett Felber) the landmark conference “Beyond the Gates: The Past and Future of Prison Education at Harvard.” Follow her on Twitter @elizabhinton.
Anyabwile Love is an Assistant Professor at the Community College of Philadelphia. He earned a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University. He is currently writing a project on John William Coltrane. Follow him on Twitter @AnyabwileLove.permission.