Now That Orange is the New Black is Over, Read These Books
Must reads for anyone interested in mass incarceration in the US.
Books About Incarceration
Netflix's Orange is the New Black was many's first look at mass incarceration, Oz and Wentworth for others. While the show, based on Piper Kerman's book of the same name, was fictional and often farcical, it also highlighted many important prison issues.
Here are 10 books about prison and mass incarceration to read now if you're interested in reading more about it. Whether you're privileged to realize it or not, mass incarceration impacts all of us. While only accounting for five percent of world population, the United States' citizens make up 25 percent of the world's prison population. That's around 2.2 million people.
Because mass incarceration is such a huge issue in the United States, it's important to be informed. These ten books on prison and mass incarceration will give you a solid foundation on the topic.
1. Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison by Bruce Western
More than 600,000 people released from prison each year, many return to the same situation that landed them in prison in the first place thanks to racism and the cycle of poverty. In his research, Western concluded social integration programs that help guarantee housing, health care, transitional employment, and drug treatment are the best way to prevent recidivism.
2. Upper Bunkies Unite: And Other Thoughts On the Politics of Mass Incarceration by Andrea James
Using both her experience working as former a criminal defense lawyer and person experience being incarcerated, Andrea James digs into the "politics and policies" that cause mass incarceration while highlighting a need overhaul and instead focus and social justice and healing.
3. Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice That Restores by Dominique DuBois Gilliard
Dominique DuBois Gilliard's Rethinking Incarceration looks at the history of mass incarceration and the way Christianity has played into "its evolution and expansion" before delving into how the modern church and Christians can help "participate in the restorative justice...[for] authentic rehabilitation, lasting transformation, and healthy reintegration to this broken system."
4. Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women's Prisons by Ayelet Waldman and Robin Levi
Inside This Place, Not of It chronicles the lives of thirteen people as they recount their experiences with incarcerations and the outrageous and egregious human rights violations they experienced inside United States women's prisons.
5. Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada by L. Ben-Moshe, C. Chapman, and A. Carey
Disability Incarcerated is a collection of essays that, taken together, demonstrate that disabled bodies have long been treated differently than abled bodies with far percentages of disabled people imprisoned and institutionalized. The book seeks to answer why and how disabled bodies are so often exploited within the prison industrial complex.
6. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Perhaps the most famous book on the list, The New Jim Crow takes us through the history of incarceration, with slavery at its roots, to the prison industrial complex we know today, providing a plethora of sources on how the War on Drugs became a way to once again legally control communities of color.
7. Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation by Beth E. Richie
Beth E. Richie sheds light on the particular marginalization and violence Black women face, while impacted by racism, cycles of poverty, and lack or limited access to resources. The intersection of racial and gendered violence has increased violence while Black women's pain is too often minimized or ignored. Arrested Justice is both a call to action for change and a critique of how we can do better.
8. Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States by Joey Mogul, Andrea Ritchie, and Kay Whitlock
For decades, LGBTQ people in the U.S. have been both criminalized and pathologized. Even Disney, considered wholesome and child-friendly, queer codes many of their villains. Queer (In)Justice examines not only the archetypes of queer criminals, but also explores the way both sex, gender, and sexuality have been criminalized and continue to be punished even today.
9. Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Y. Davis
Angela Davis is the top of her field and her book, Are Prisons Obsolete?, is a must-read. She posits a case for the abolition of prisons, drawing upon past abolition movements such as for slavery and segregation to bring for a transformation to society as we know it.