America Is the Prison
Arts and Politics in Prison in the 1970s
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
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Prisons are really an extension of our communities. We have people who are forced at gunpoint to live behind concrete and steel. Others of us, in what we ordinarily think of as the community, live at gunpoint again in almost the same conditions. The penitentiaries...
1. WE SHALL HAVE ORDER: The Cultural Politics of Law and Order
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During the 1968 presidential campaign, Richard Nixon made Lyndon Johnson’s attorney general, Ramsey Clark, a target of his “law-andorder” campaign strategy. In accepting the GOP nomination at his party’s national convention...
2. THE AGE OF JACKSON: George Jackson and the Radical Critique of Incarceration
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During the late 1960s and early 1970s, conservative politicians steered the national debate regarding criminal justice policy toward increasing repression. At the same time, the culture of American prisons became increasingly...
3. WHAT WORKS?: Reform and Repression in Prison Programs
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As the culmination of their immersion in radical political theory and prison activism, the Attica Brothers reacted to and amplified the goals spearheaded on the West Coast. In the immediate aftermath of the uprising, correctional authorities...
4. WE TOOK THE WEIGHT: Incarcerated Writers and Artists in the Black Arts Movement
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During the 1970s prison rehabilitative efforts seemed to narrow to the point where trying to scare people straight was the most visible prison program in the country. At the same time, alternative visions of prison...
5. CELL BLOCK THEATER: Entertainment, Liberation, and the Politics of Prison Theater
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In the spring of 1979 the Center for the Advanced Study in Theatre Arts (CASTA) at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center held a conference on theater in prison.1 The event featured a spirited and divided debate about the goals...
6. RADICAL CHIC: Jack Henry Abbott and the Decline of Prison Programming
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On a Wednesday evening in 1970, ninety New Yorkers gathered in a Park Avenue apartment for an event that would presage the decline of prisoners’ cultural influence. George Jackson had not yet been killed or the Attica rioters massacred; Angela Davis...
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In 1924 Huddie Ledbetter played a concert at the Sugar Land Prison Farm for the governor of Texas. Ledbetter, who would go on to international celebrity as “Lead Belly,” was doing time as “Walter Boyd,” the name he assumed after escaping from a previous prison...
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Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010