Bree Carlton and Emma K. Russell’s Resisting Carceral Violence: Women’s Imprisonment and the Politics of Abolition will be published in November 2018.
This book explores the dramatic evolution of a feminist movement that mobilised to challenge a women’s prison system in crisis. Through in-depth historical research conducted in the Australian state of Victoria that spans the 1980s and 1990s, the authors uncover how incarcerated women have worked productively with feminist activists and community coalitions to expose, critique and resist the conditions and harms of their confinement. Resisting Carceral Violence tells the story of how activists—through a combination of creative direct actions, reformist lobbying and legal challenges—forged an anti-carceral feminist movement that traversed the prison walls. This powerful history provides vital lessons for service providers, social justice advocates and campaigners, academics and students concerned with the violence of incarceration. It calls for a willingness to look beyond the prison and instead embrace creative solutions to broader structural inequalities and social harm.
About the Authors:
Bree Carlton is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University, Australia. Her research explores strategies for preventing and resisting against prison generated violence and harm. Bree authored Imprisoning Resistance (Federation Press 2007) and is co-editor of Women Exiting Prison (Routledge 2013).
Emma K. Russell is a Lecturer in Crime, Justice and Legal Studies in the Department of Social Inquiry at La Trobe University, Australia. Her work has been published in various journals, including Theoretical Criminology, Critical Criminology and Crime Media Culture.
Resisting Carceral Violence is a key text for those invested in worlds without prisons, now. Carlton and Russell draw from luminous oral histories that document anti-carceral feminist mobilizations to build solidarity and struggle with people incarcerated in Australia’s Fairlea Women’s Prison. Contextualized with a brilliant critique of the political economy of ‘progressive reform’ in the Australian women’s correctional system in the 1980s and 1990s, this groundbreaking text creates necessary feminist abolitionist genealogies. By centering “inside-out organizing”, the archive illuminates the value of creative, collaborative, and coalitional movement labor and tactics – visual, spatial and sonic. Resisting Carceral Violence critically engages with multiple ‘on the ground’ tensions that those working against the global prison industrial complex frequently confront, such as the implementation of reforms that might strengthen the carceral system and the pervasive trap of ‘gender-responsive’ logics. But perhaps most importantly this work makes visible the beautifully chaotic, and generally disappeared, imaginaries and labor of fierce grassroots organizations that knit together powerful and temporal coalitions. These decolonial abolitionist feminist mobilizations provide necessary, and fertile, terrain for our collective present and our future practice. Resisting Carceral Violence is a powerful ‘must read’ for all social movement scholars, organizers, and feminists. Erica R. Meiners, Bernard J. Brommel Distinguished Research Professor, Northeastern Illinois University.
By offering a unique historical vantage point on resistance both within and outside Australia’s women’s prisons Resisting Carceral Violence shows how activists have responded to a changing landscape of state carceral control and strategies of penal expansion. Through a close examination of archives, diaries, and interview data, the research reveals the potential and limitations of organizing on the “inside” and “outside” and the deep connections of women across these boundaries. The authors’ reflections about these struggles convey acute respect for activists’ commitments to real change and profound recognition of the costs of violence imposed on incarcerated women’s lives. This book is a “must-read” for scholars who seek to better understand the broader structural constraints that limit prison reform. Kristin Bumiller, George Daniel Olds Professor of Economic and Social Institutions, Amherst College.
Resisting Carceral Violence provides a compelling and often moving account of the brutal reality of prison life for women. It graphically highlights the highly gendered dehumanization, and desperate harms, the prison generates. The book represents critical scholarship at its very best. It is theoretically sophisticated, methodologically innovative, forensically focused and radically interventionist. It should be read by academics and activists as well as by policy makers as it illustrates the abject failure of the liberal, prison reform industry and the endless, fruitless search for the ‘best’ penal policy for women. Bree Carlton and Emma Russell, through their lucid scholarship, demonstrate, beyond any doubt that women’s prisons need to be removed forever from staining the social landscape. Their book makes a significant, uncompromising contribution to that utopian goal and to the literature on abolitionism more generally. Professor Joe Sim, Liverpool John Moores University, England.