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Working for Justice

Working for Justice: A Handbook of Prison Education and Activism

members of The Prison Communication, Activism, Research, and Education Collective (PCARE)
Stephen John Hartnett
Eleanor Novek
Jennifer K. Wood
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Working for Justice
    Book Description:

    This collection documents the efforts of the Prison Communication, Activism, Research, and Education collective (PCARE) to put democracy into practice by merging prison education and activism. Through life-changing programs in a dozen states (Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin), PCARE works with prisoners, in prisons, and in communities to reclaim justice from the prison-industrial complex. Based on years of pragmatic activism and engaged teaching, the materials in this volume present a sweeping inventory of how communities and individuals both within and outside of prisons are marshaling the arts, education, and activism to reduce crime and enhance citizenship. Documenting hands-on case studies that emphasize educational initiatives, successful prison-based programs, and activist-oriented analysis, Working for Justice provides readers with real-world answers based on years of pragmatic activism and engaged teaching. Contributors are David Coogan, Craig Lee Engstrom, Jeralyn Faris, Stephen John Hartnett, Edward A. Hinck, Shelly Schaefer Hinck, Bryan J. McCann, Nikki H. Nichols, Eleanor Novek, Brittany L. Peterson, Jonathan Shailor, Rachel A. Smith, Derrick L. Williams, Lesley A. Withers, Jennifer K. Wood, and Bill Yousman.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09496-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Working for Justice in the Age of Mass Incarceration
    (pp. 1-10)

    America’s prison population has exploded: we now imprison over 2.3 million of our neighbors while keeping another 5 million former prisoners on probation, on parole, and under house arrest (Glaze & Parks, 2012). Some estimates place the cost of maintaining this vast prison-industrial complex at over $228 billion per year. In response to our becoming what critics are calling an “incarceration nation” and a “punishing democracy,” a group of scholars, teachers, artists, and activists came together in 2005 to form PCARE, the Prison Communication, Activism, Research, and Education Collective (see our website at Working for Justice gathers our best efforts...

  5. Part I. Working on the Inside:: The Transformative Potential of Prison Education

    • CHAPTER 1 Kings, Warriors, Magicians, and Lovers: Prison Theater and Alternative Performances of Masculinity
      (pp. 13-38)

      After thirty years of participating in, directing, and evaluating violence-prevention programs, the noted psychotherapist James Gilligan came to the conclusion that “the basic psychological motive, or cause, of violent behavior is the wish to ward off or eliminate the feeling of shame and humiliation—a feeling that is painful, and can even be intolerable and overwhelming.” One of the goals of interpersonal violence, then, is to “replace [shame] with its opposite, the feeling of pride” (Gilligan, 2001, p. 29). According to Gilligan, any social structure that systematically degrades a group or class of people increases the risk that individuals will...

    • CHAPTER 2 Service-Learning in Prison Facilities: Interaction as a Source of Transformation
      (pp. 39-59)

      Recently, state governments have turned to reducing prison populations in an attempt to cope with decreasing state revenues (Archibold, 2010; Schwartz, 2010; Steinhauer, 2009). While prison activists might greet these developments with some degree of satisfaction, such actions on the part of states leave the more fundamental issues facing incarceration policy unaddressed. Prison activists have argued against incarceration on far more complex grounds than simply wasting social resources, noting that prisons perpetuate racism, sexism, classism, and poverty (PCARE, 2007). Justifying a reduction in the U.S. prison population on the basis of a lack of resources rather than on the basis...

    • CHAPTER 3 Writing Your Way to Freedom: Autobiography as Inquiry in Prison Writing Workshops
      (pp. 60-80)

      I’m sitting in a circle with a few dozen men in a classroom sanctuary, a respite from the noise, violence, and negativity of a jail built to house 800 prisoners but that routinely houses more than 1,500. The walls of this sanctuary within the Richmond City Jail are covered with posters of Mother Teresa and Malcolm X, photos of prisoners doing their work, and photocopies of GED and Career Readiness Certificates. The room is full of books by poets and historians, computers, study guides, and plastic chairs filled with imprisoned men working on the craft of authoring new lives.


  6. Part II. Working on the Outside:: Building New Selves and Strong Communities

    • CHAPTER 4 “Courtesy Incarceration”: Exploring Family Members’ Experiences of Imprisonment
      (pp. 83-102)

      On Christmas Eve 2003, I remember nervously walking from the parking lot toward the imposing locked door of the local county jail. As we walked up, the locks clicked and we were allowed to go inside. The visit was short, only one hour in length. We sat on the hard metal immobile stools and looked at each other through double-paned glass. It was difficult to hear, so we leaned down against the cold steel shelf and talked directly into the small audio area. I was incredibly uncomfortable in the cramped, dirty, and poorly-lit room. Sixty minutes later, it was time...

    • CHAPTER 5 Serving Time by Coming Home: Communicating Hope through a Reentry Court
      (pp. 103-122)

      Ben¹ had been a participant in a reentry Problem Solving Court (PSC) for a month when he stood at a podium in the courtroom for his weekly conversation with the judge. I listened, observed, and wrote field notes as Ben and the other nineteen participants took their turns interacting with the judge. Ben had served eleven years of a twenty-four-year sentence and volunteered to participate in the reentry-court program in order to be released from prison early. The judge opened the conversation with a positive tone: “I’m hearing good things about you. How do you feel you are doing?” Ben’s...

    • CHAPTER 6 Life After Incarceration: Exploring Identity in Reentry Programs for Women
      (pp. 123-138)

      Since the 1990s, women have represented the fastest-growing prison population in the United States (United States Department of Justice, 2009). High incarceration rates for women are troubling enough, but what happens once they serve their time behind bars? This chapter, based upon in-depth interviews with formerly incarcerated women, investigates the impact of incarceration on women’s identities and explores what happens in their lives after prison. During the interviews, participants offered insights about their identities before, during, and after spending time in prison and revealed the challenges of creating new lives when they are released. The evidence in this study suggests...

  7. Part III. Working on the Media:: Representations of Prisons and Prison Activism

    • CHAPTER 7 Challenging the Media-Incarceration Complex through Media Education
      (pp. 141-159)

      It is a typical night of television in the United States: on HBO a gang of African American prisoners are assaulting another captive, a white man, passing him back and forth and laughing as they abuse him; on NBC a group of black female inmates are wreaking havoc in a hospital emergency room; flip to another channel and a Hollywood film features a group of prisoners hijacking a plane and terrorizing the passengers and crew; over on MSNBC, a reality show called Lockup profiles a prisoner who reportedly performed cannibalistic acts; on still another channel, Law and Order detectives harshly...

    • CHAPTER 8 “Prisoners Rise, Rise, Rise!” Hip Hop as a Ciceronian Approach to Prison Protest and Community Care
      (pp. 160-184)

      The United States is addicted to prisons (Walmsley, 2009), and many of the men and women who inhabit these facilities are often abandoned by family, friends, and society. Popular hip-hop artist Nas’s lyrics, quoted above, remind us of the stark material reality faced by the nearly 2.3 million prisoners in the United States and 5 million others on probation, on parole, and under house arrest (Pew, 2010; Porter, 2011). As noted in the editors’ introduction to this book, this means one in thirty-one adults is under some form of correctional control. This fact captures a depressing truth about the prison-industrial...

  8. Part IV. Working on the Futures of Prison Activism

    • [Part IV. Introduction]
      (pp. 185-186)

      Part Four offers two essays urging scholars and activists to think more creatively about ways not only to oppose mass incarceration, but to imagine new forms of engaged and compassionate citizenship. In Chapter Nine, Bryan McCann explores the paradox of life without parole in the death-penalty-abolitionist movement. While the concept of life without parole has helped to end the death penalty in a number of states, McCann believes it also obscures the fact that capital punishment is only the most grisly element of the entire failed prison-industrial complex. If activists are serious about abolishing mass incarceration, McCann argues, they need...

    • CHAPTER 9 “A Fate Worse than Death”: Reform, Abolition, and Life without Parole in Anti–Death Penalty Discourse
      (pp. 187-202)

      Over the past decade, citizens and public officials in the United States have begun to turn against the death penalty. The first indication that capital punishment may be reaching its twilight years came in 2003, when George Ryan, the Republican governor of Illinois, commuted every death sentence in his state following a moratorium and institutional review of his state’s death-penalty apparatus. The findings convinced Ryan (2003) that “the Illinois capital punishment system is broken” (para. 110) due to its arbitrary application and a startling number of exonerations over several decades. In the years following Ryan’s controversial decision, New Jersey, New...

    • CHAPTER 10 “People Like Us”: A New Ethic of Prison Advocacy in Racialized America
      (pp. 203-220)

      Mass imprisonment has failed to reduce crime and poverty and has undermined America’s most fundamental values of liberty and equality. Reproducing the worst patterns of racial discrimination, the population of the nation’s overflowing prisons is more than half black or Hispanic. Black men are 6.5 times more likely to be in prison than whites, and 2.5 times more likely than Hispanics (Sabol, West, & Cooper, 2009). Young African American men in particular are targeted for arrest, investigation, and incarceration (Alexander, 2010; Mauer, 1999; Tonry, 2011; Western, 2007), while the cycle of marginalization imposed on their communities affects succeeding generations of the...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 221-250)
  10. Contributors
    (pp. 251-256)
  11. Index
    (pp. 257-267)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 268-268)