Women Behind Bars: Realities & Resistance Beyond Orange is the New Black

Tuesday, 10/18: 11:10am in Room 4202 @ St. Francis College

180 Remsen Street /Brooklyn

The popularity of Orange is the New Black has led to a growing interest in women’s imprisonment. But why are there 8 times as many women behind bars as there were in 1980? What structural issues are causing the dramatic rise of women’s incarceration? Why are women of color disproportionately impacted? And how are women themselves challenging and organizing against prison conditions? How can people on the outside support their actions and resistance? Victoria Law is a journalist and author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles Of Incarcerated Women, for a discussion on pathways to prison as well as women’s realities and resistance behind bars.

Part of the Fall 2016 Senior Lecture Series.

Co-Directors Fall 2016 Profs. Athena Devlin (American Studies) + Emily Horowitz (Sociology)
Events Sponsored By: American Studies, History, Crime & Popular Culture, Peace & Justice, Provost’s Office, Sociology & Criminal Justice and the Women’s Center

NYC Launch for Who Do You Serve? Who Do You Protect?


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Audio and video clips from previous events:

Keynote Panel: Women, Incarceration and Carceral Feminism

Missed the amazing panel about women, incarceration and carceral feminism? You can watch here.

While the vast majority of incarcerated people in the US are men, the rate of growth for women’s imprisonment has outpaced men by more than 50 percent between 1980 and 2014 and trans women have one of the highest rates of incarceration of any group. As a result, there are 8 times as many women–many of whom are mothers–incarcerated in state and federal prisons and local jails as there were in 1980.

Moreover, women of color, especially black women, are disproportionately incarcerated–at even greater disproportion than among men. Women, and in particular trans women and all women of color, continue to be subjected to high rates of violence, whether intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or transphobic violence, which can also lead to their incarceration.

This panel of local and national activists and scholars will discuss what this increasing rate of incarceration means for women, children, and families, including how to address violence against women in the age of mass incarceration.

Undocumented Architecture: Prisons, Migrant Justice & Counter-Narratives of Resistance

Missed the U.S. launch of Tings Chak’s Undocumented and the discussion about prison abolition and migrant justice and counter-narratives of resistance? You can now watch the video here
Undocumented: The Architecture of Migrant Detention explores the growing industry of immigration detention and questions the role of architectural design in such spaces. Using the conventional architectural tools of representation, Undocumented situates, spatializes, and confronts the voices of those who are detained and the anonymous individuals who design spaces of confinement. An architecturally-trained artist based in Toronto, Tings Chaks draws inspiration from anti-colonial, migrant justice, and spatial justice struggles. Undocumented grew out of the collective organizing work led by immigration detainees in the maximum-security Central East Correctional Centre and through the End Immigration Detention Network.

The discussion will be facilitated by a member of AMPLIFY(HER), the first-ever zine (self-published magazine) project by and for undocumented women from the Asian diaspora. AMPLIFY(HER) is a counter-narrative project that aims to empower and encourage women-led storytelling that is crucial to our identities and survival. AMPLIFY(HER) is a collaboration between RAISE and DRUM.

The event is free.
Asian American Writers’ Workshop
110-112 W 27th Street, Suite 600, New York, New York 10001

Watch me on Democracy Now! talking about historic release of 6,000 federal drug war prisoners–and the impending deportation facing one-third:

Race & the Criminal Justice System: Political Prisoners, Resistance & Mass Incarceration

If you missed the discussion between Dan Berger (author of Captive Nation), Bryan Stevenson (founder and director of Equal Justice Initiative) and me about race, the criminal justice system, mass incarceration and resistance as part of the Black Freedom Studies at the NYPL’s Schomburg Center, you can see it here:

Why Are Women in Prison? The Politics of Risk
In discussions about prison reform and decarceration, how does the concept of “risk” influence who goes to prison and for how long? Popular logic deems some prisoners to be “safety risks,” and therefore consigned to long periods of incarceration, while others – including a very large percentage of women – are labeled “low-risk” or less “dangerous.” This panel will delve into the politics and frameworks by which risk is evaluated in the criminal justice system. Who is deemed “dangerous” and why? How is race entrenched in evaluations of risk at every level? What makes women as a whole a less risky population, and why are so many “low-risk” women sent to prison? What very real risks to society are never included in the rhetoric of risk (to the environment, economy, or families and communities of the incarcerated, for example)? How does risk assessment intersect with gender in ways that harm women and gender-nonconforming people?A conversation with Glenn E. Martin (JustLeadershipUSA) and Leslie Thatcher and Maya Schenwar (Truthout) that probes our assumptions around danger, safety, gender, and the measures used to maintain “security” in a society pervaded by prisons.
Stories Untold: Race, Representation and Politics in YA Fiction
The worlds we create in books, whether historical, contemporary or fantasy, inform our notions of ourselves and our possibilities. Yet fewer than 10% of the books published for children and young adults in recent years featured main characters of color. Fewer still were written by authors of color.
How are characters of color written about in children’s fiction today? Which books represent communities of color accurately, and which do not? How does a skewed understanding of history undermine our ability to navigate our futures? And what can we do to ensure that our children read stories that reflect their lives? A panel discussion with Matt de la Pena, Charlene Allen, Dr. Sharon Cadizis, Stacy Whitman (founder and editor of Tu Books) and me.
3rd Annual Law & Disorder conference, Portland 2012
Part 2 (which moves into present-day mass incarceration) is at:
Prisoners and Formerly Incarcerated Persons v the USA
How can those of us outside support the struggle of those of us inside? From Troy Davis to Mumia Abu-Jamal and Bradley Manning, from the Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers to the Georgia Prison Strike and the Formerly Incarcerated Persons (FIPs), anti-capitalist leadership has come from inside the Prisonhouse of nations, and from the families campaigning outside. Many rebellious young people and movement points of reference are locked up in what are in effect concentration camps. We want them back! We need them back!
Panelists: Eric Gjertsen, Frances Goldin, Theresa Shoatz, Rev. Edward Pinkney and Victoria Law
Moderated by Selma James
At the 2012 Left Forum which, once again, refused to address childcare issues.
Community and Resistance: Katrina, Jena Six and Prisoner Justice Chancellor Day Hall, Montreal 5 October 2010
Community and Resistance tour in Durham, NC, with Manju Rajendran, Jordan Flaherty, Justin Flores, Kosta Harlan, Monserrat Alvarez, and Ray Eurquhart:
Community and Resistance tour at the Hive, Greensboro, NC:
The Hidden 1970s talk at Freebird Books, Brooklyn: