Mass Incarceration

  • An Oral History of Riker's Island

    An oral history of New York's notorious jail is chaotic and difficult, but could an account of the place be any different and be true? 

  • NY Mayor's Proposal to Lock Up Mentally Ill Has Long History

    by Elliott Young

    The impulse to heal the mentally ill has long battled the impulse to lock them up as a threat to the society. Eric Adams is trying to do the latter while claiming to do the former. 

  • Inventing Solitary Confinement

    Kali Nicole Gross, Ashley Rubin, Jen Manion and Paul Takagi offer insight into the historical irony of modern incarceration's roots in Philadelphia, the nominal cradle of American liberty. 

  • Heather Ann Thompson on Mass Incarceration

    Karma Chávez guest hosts a wide-ranging conversation with historian Heather Ann Thompson about policing, mass incarceration, and why overhauling the criminal justice system is the civil rights issue of our time.

  • Introducing “Disciplining The Nation”

    by Matt Guariglia and Charlotte Rosen

    "Rooted in racial slavery, settler colonialism, and U.S. empire, policing and incarceration in the United States were slowly and meticulously built over time for the purpose of subordinating, punishing, and exploiting populations –and historians have the documents to prove it."

  • Let the Punishment Fit the Crime

    by Ben Austen and Khalil Gibran Muhammad

    Tough-on-crime laws that forbid discretionary parole emerged in the 1970s. A historical perspective suggests they've failed, keeping people in prison long after doing so protects society. 

  • What Set the Stage for Rebellion and Violence at Attica

    Tyrone Larkins, Alhajji Sharif and Akil Shaquan were incarcerated at Attica 50 years ago. Hear their story about conditions in the prison and the events of the riot and its brutal suppression. Also features an interview with historian Heather Ann Thompson.

  • Honoring Attica After Half a Century

    by Heather Ann Thompson

    Activists both inside and outside of prisons in the 1960s and 1970s confronted the violence of the state. Accountability for law enforcement is still an unrealized legacy of the 1971 Attica rebellion. 

  • The Emerging Movement for Police and Prison Abolition

    by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

    Organizer Mariame Kaba is one of the leading public intellectuals behind the movement for the abolition of the institutions of policing and prisons and for a politics that imagines more humane alternatives. 

  • "Abolition Is...": A Roundtable

    Several young scholar/activists reflect on how historical analysis can inform the contemporary prison abolition movement and alternative approaches to justice.