From Good Girls to ‘Real’ Criminals: Dissecting the Market Logic and Racial Politics of Incarcerating Women
The story of how the Drug War gave rise to the phenomenon of mass incarceration is a familiar one. What is less familiar is the impact of this on women, particularly African American and Latina women. Since the mid 1990s, the rate at which the U.S. incarcerates women is historically and globally unprecedented. A recent report from the International Centre for Prison Studies finds that in 2013 the US incarcerated nearly a third of the world’s women prisoners. The staggering increase in the number of incarcerated women has had profound consequences for women’s prisons, shaping both the ideology and practice of punishment & control. McCorkel examines the role that private vendors and racial logic played in shaping punitive punishment outcomes, with a focus on how African American and Latina women are simultaneously being framed as a source of pathology and profit.
Jill McCorkel is Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology and a faculty associate of the Africana Studies Program at Villanova University. Her research investigates the social and political consequences of mass incarceration in the United States. She focuses primarily on how law and systems of punishment perpetuate race, class, and gender-based inequities. Her recent book, Breaking Women: Gender, Race, and the New Politics of Imprisonment (New York University Press, 2013) explores the consequences of the War on Drugs and “get tough” policies for women prisoners. She is currently involved in developing Villanova’s undergraduate degree program at SCI-Graterford, the largest maximum-security prison in Pennsylvania.
“Gender Goes to Jail” is the theme of the 16th annual Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSX) Colloquium to be held March 25-26, 2015
The United States incarcerates, by far, more people than any other country in the world. The number of women in prison increased 646% between 1980 and 2010—nearly 1.5 times the rate of men. And there are more black males in the criminal justice system today than those enslaved in 1850—primarily for nonviolent drug offenses. How gender, class and race affect who goes to prison, the experience of imprisonment and the social consequences of our nation’s prison industrial complex will be the focus of the colloquium talks. The speakers will include Villanova University sociologist Jill McCorkel, author of “Breaking Women: Gender, Race and the New Politics of Imprisonment”; social policy scholar and activist Erika Kates from the Wellesley Centers for Women, an advocate of comprehensive social justice for incarcerated and disenfranchised women; and Erica Meiners, professor of educational inquiry and curriculum studies at Northeastern Illinois University, whose work examines the prison/school nexus and prison reform.
All lectures, free and open to the public, are scheduled to be held in Cole Cinema: March 25 at 4:45, March 25 at 8:15, March 26 at 4:15, and a roundtable discussion with all speakers on March 26 at 8:15.