Gender and the Criminal Justice System:
The politics of labor in prisons has a large societal impact, and the gendering of this labor is just as critical. The way women are socialized in prisons reflects larger societal inequalities and problems. In comparing two radically different prisons, Haney (2010) illustrates the difficulty in viewing prison work as wholly exploitative or abusive, as they both reinforce and subvert the wide-ranging social meanings that can be ascribed to women’s work. The U.S. prison system incarcerates over 2 million people, with an additional 4 million under alternative correctional supervision, and this model is rapidly becoming a world-wide circumstance (Haney 2010). A growing trend is for prison systems to produce revenue for large private business who are increasingly abusing the use of prison labor for a cheap workforce, which is part of the Prison Industrial Complex, or PIC, which is a term used to describe “the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social, and political problems” (Critical Resistance 2014; Haney 2010).
The study of two different prisons, one a maximum security establishment in central Europe, and the other a community based prison in California reveals the relationship between “power and carcerality” and the effects it has on the gendered bodies in the prison system (Haney 2010, p.75). One of these prisons uses labor as a way to enforce power and obedience, while in contrast, the other uses the terminology of work as “a means of self-actualization and taking responsibility (Haney 2010, p.75). Female prisons make a patently oxymoronic claim to empower their women by helping them with their sel...
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...stem as it is now, and creating long-term alternatives for incarceration in the present form (Critical Resistance 2014). The Prison Industrial Complex perpetuates oppression and inequalities through violence while controlling millions of people (Critical Resistance 2014). The “abolitionist vision” would mean creating models in the present for what we want to see in the future, and developing strategies for taking small steps towards and ultimate goal that would hopefully lead to a more equitable and just world (Critical Resistance 2014).
Haney, L. (2010). Working through Mass Incarceration: Gender and the Politics of Prison Labor from East to West. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 36(1), p.73-97
Critical Resistance. (2014). “Prison Industrial Complex.” Retrieved 9 November 2015. (http://criticalresistance.org/about/not-so-common-language/)
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