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Challenging the Prison-Industrial Complex

Activism, Arts, and Educational Alternatives

Stephen JohnHartnett

Publication Year: 2010

Boldly and eloquently contributing to the argument against the prison system in the United States, these provocative essays offer an ideological and practical framework for empowering prisoners instead of incarcerating them. Experts and activists who have worked within and against the prison system join forces here to call attention to the debilitating effects of a punishment-driven society and offer clear-eyed alternatives, emphasizing working directly with prisoners and their communities. _x000B__x000B_The volume offers rhetorical and political analyses of police culture, the so-called drug war, media coverage of crime stories, and the public-school-to-prison pipeline. The collection also includes case studies of successful prison arts and education programs in Michigan, California, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that provide creative and intellectual resources typically denied to citizens living behind bars. Writings and artwork created by prisoners in such programs richly enhance the volume._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Buzz Alexander, Rose Braz, Travis L. Dixon, Garrett Albert Duncan, Stephen John Hartnett, Julilly Kohler-Hausmann, Daniel Mark Larson, Erica R. Meiners, Janie Paul, Lori Pompa, Jonathan Shailor, Robin Sohnen, and Myesha Williams.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-xii

This book began in the autumn of 2002 as a conversation in the political poster–filled office of Dr. David Roediger, the Kendrick C. Babcock Professor of History, tireless activist, all-around good guy...

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Introduction: Empowerment or Incarceration? Reclaiming Hope and Justice from a Punishing Democracy

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pp. 1-12

Stacked atop one another on the same page on the same day, juxtaposed clues to a catastrophe, two New York Times articles illustrate some of America’s obsessions, fears, and blind...

PART I: Diagnosing the Crisis

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1. Building an Abolition Democracy; or, The Fight against Public Fears, Private Benefits, and Prison Expansion

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pp. 15-40

Several years ago, at St. Leonard’s Adult High School, where we offer adults a second chance at earning a high school diploma, we started a college and career night to provide students...

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POEM: Another Day in the Champaign County Jail

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pp. 41-42

An original member of the Writing Workshop at the Champaign County Jail, in Champaign, Illinois, Dennis Mansker responded to the challenge to write detailed and realistic poetry with...

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2. Militarizing the Police: Officer Jon Burge, Torture, and War in the "Urban Jungle"

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pp. 43-71

“Our community is under occupation,” Jesse Jackson told reporters at a press conference on February 18, 1982. “Our community is very tense. It is a war zone.” Days earlier, in an effort to apprehend...

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POEM: Gotta Be Careful Where Ya Plant Ya Feet

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p. 72-72

A member of a writing workshop founded by Hispanic Americans for Progress (HAP) in the New Jersey State Prison, in Trenton, New Jersey, Marvin Mays writes poems portraying the harsh...

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3. Killing Democracy; or, How the Drug War Drives the Prison-Industrial Complex

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pp. 73-104

On June 9, 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed H.R. 11143 into law, creating the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) and entrusting the Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon, with the responsibility...

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POEM: Another Day

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p. 105-105

A member of the Writing Workshop at the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility, in Denver, Colorado, Erika Baro writes strong poems about survival and moving on in the face of hardship...

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4. Teaching You to Love Fear: Television News and Racial Stereotypes in a Punishing Democracy

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pp. 106-123

Because I am one of the few African American professors my students have ever met, I am often asked to speak to various student groups about my life and work; one of the questions...

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POEM: In Search of Salvation

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pp. 124-125

A member of the Writing Workshop at the Champaign County Jail, in Champaign, Illinois, William T. Smith writes poems full of religious imagery and a wry sense of personal responsibility...

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5. Diagnosing the Schools-to-Prisons Pipeline: Maximum Security, Minimum Learning

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pp. 126-146

In the course of 24 hours in May 2007, without holding a single public hearing, much less a public vote, the California state legislature passed the largest prison-expansion plan in U.S. history...

PART II: Practical Solutions, Visionary Alternatives

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6. "A Piece of the Reply": The Prison Creative Arts Project and Practicing Resistance

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pp. 149-178

Nate Jones passed away the evening of May 31, 2007. On April 25 I had helped him celebrate his fifty-eighth birthday by bringing him a huge cake—his doctors had ordered him to eat a lot of rich food...

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POEM: The Poet's Corner

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pp. 179-180

Founded by Buzz Alexander, the Poet’s Corner is a long-running group of writers who gather once a week in the Jackson Prison, in Jackson, Michigan; in this poem, the seventy-three-year...

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7: Each One Reach One: Playwriting and Community Activism as Redemption and Prevention

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pp. 181-200

As Santos lay bleeding to death in the public bathroom where he had been shot, he scrawled “open your eyes” on the floor with his own blood. When told of his deathbed command, most...

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POEM: Devil Talks

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pp. 201-202

A member of the Writing Workshop at the Champaign County Jail, in Champaign, Illinois, Robert “Chicago” McCollum...

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8. Fostering Cultures of Achievement in Urban Schools: How to Work toward the Abolition of the Schools-to-Prisons Pipeline

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pp. 203-227

In this chapter I highlight educational reform efforts that show tremendous promise for abolishing the schools-to-prisons pipeline in the United States. I illustrate how parents, teachers...

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POEM: January 3, 2009

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p. 228-228

A member of the Writing Workshop at the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility, in Denver, Colorado, Nicole Monahan wrote this powerful poem in response to her husband’s suicide...

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9. Humanizing Education behind Bars: Shakespeare and the Theater of Empowerment

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pp. 229-251

The lotus flower is the Buddhist symbol of our incorruptible, enlightened nature; the use of the symbol in this koan is provocative because it suggests that our enlightened nature is fully present...

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POEM: Anger

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p. 252-252

A member of the Writing Workshop at the Champaign County Jail, in Champaign, Illinois, Sean Kelly responded to the challenge to write...

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10. Breaking Down the Walls: Inside-Out Learning and the Pedagogy of Transformation

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pp. 253-272

In 1985, I stepped behind the walls of a prison for the first time. I remember being overwhelmed that day by a sensory cacophony of stale sweat, old sneakers, clanging bars, crumbling cement...

Appendix: Prisoner Art and the Work of Community Building

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pp. 273-274

Contributors

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pp. 275-280

Index

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pp. 282-291

Production Notes

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p. 292-292


E-ISBN-13: 9780252090165
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252035821

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2010