by Judah Schept
Published by: NYU Press
328 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm, 39 b/w illustrations
How prisons became economic development strategies for rural Appalachian communities
As the United States began the project of mass incarceration, rural communities turned to building prisons as a strategy for economic development. More than 350 prisons have been built in the U.S. since 1980, with certain regions of the country accounting for large shares of this dramatic growth. Central Appalachia is one such region; there are eight prisons alone in Eastern Kentucky. If Kentucky were its own country, it would have the seventh highest incarceration rate in the world. In Coal, Cages, Crisis, Judah Schept takes a closer look at this stunning phenomenon, providing insight into prison growth, jail expansion and rising incarceration rates in America’s hinterlands.
Drawing on interviews, site visits, and archival research, Schept traces recent prison growth in the region to the rapid decline of its coal industry. He takes us inside this startling transformation occurring in the coalfields, where prisons are often built on top of old coalmines, including mountaintop removal sites, and built into community planning approaches to crises of unemployment, population loss, and declining revenues. By linking prison growth to other sites in this landscape—coal mines, coal waste, landfills, and incinerators—Schept shows that the prison boom has less to do with crime and punishment and much more with the overall extraction, depletion, and waste disposal processes that characterize dominant development strategies for the region.
Schept argues that the future of this area now hangs in the balance, detailing recent efforts to oppose its carceral growth. Coal, Cages, Crisis offers invaluable insight into the complex dynamics of mass incarceration that continue to shape Appalachia and the broader United States.
Judah Schept is Professor of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. He is the author of the award-winning Progressive Punishment: Job Loss, Jail Growth, and the Neoliberal Logic of Carceral Expansion.
Against the many reductionist, exploitative, and degrading accounts of Appalachia, this book reveals how important it is to understand the region’s drive toward prisons and jails as part of a larger history, geography, and narrative of continuous extraction and structural crisis, one that was never inevitable but socially reproduced through carceral investments. Coal, Cages, Crisis is essential reading in this moment of reckoning, proving our analyses of racial capital in the rural hinterlands is foundational to struggles in the movement against prisons everywhere.
" ~Michelle Brown, co-author of Criminology Goes to the Movies: Crime Theory and Popular Culture
"Through the churn of extraction and profiteering, disposal and human sacrifice, the mountains of Appalachia have become a kind of national sacrifice zone, home to coal mines, garbage dumps, and cages. Judah Schept’s brilliant book nests rigorously local Appalachian history within the global system of racial capitalism that is devouring the planet. As jails and prisons proliferate across the coalfields, Schept tells us what was there before so we will remember to ask that crucial abolitionist question—what might be there instead?" ~Naomi Murakawa, author of The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America
"Judah Schept sketches a fascinating topography of class war and the carceral state in Appalachia. He boldly shifts focus from the criminal policies and physical prisons of the region to the infrastructures of extraction and disposal that have facilitated mass incarceration. This imaginative interdisciplinary study will be a critical resource for scholars and organizers as well as for pundits trying to make sense of Appalachia’s now mythologized ‘white working class.’" ~Christina Heatherton, co-editor of Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter
"Coal, Cages, Crisis is a model of carceral geography that combines investigative journalism, unabashed activism, and multi-layered analysis. Jill Frank’s stark photography illuminates a bleak landscape, while Schept excavates its buried past." ~Tony Platt, author of Beyond These Walls: Rethinking Crime and Punishment in the United States
"The primary insight guiding Coal, Cages, and Crisis is that the carceral facility is part of an ensemble of social relations extending far beyond its walls, in networks of local, state, and federal punishment, the global landscape of commodity exchange, and even the unique historical moment in which it exists. As Schept deftly demonstrates, the site selection, construction, staffing, filling, and subsequent management of prisons and jails is not simply the narrow domain of the misnamed ‘justice system,’ reflecting its needs, nor are prisons and punishment regimes simply deployed in response to changing levels of ‘crime,’ as conservative criminologists argue. Instead, understanding why prisons are built, and filled, requires a close look at local patterns of employment, relations of private property, histories of structural racism, and the political and cultural arenas in which regimes of prison construction and ‘tough on crime’ policies alike are fought out … Time and again, Coal, Cages, Crisis strives to communicate that mass incarceration is not natural or inevitable, and depicts plenty of locals who prove that another way of life is not only possible, but in demand." ~The Brooklyn Rail
"Drawing on interviews, site visits, and archival research, Schept links prison growth to other sites in the Central Appalachian landscape—coal mines, coal waste, landfills, and incinerators. He concludes that the prison boom has less to do with crime and punishment and much more with the overall extraction, depletion, and waste disposal processes that characterize dominant development strategies for the region." ~Law and Social Inquiry
"Through this interdisciplinary study of the rural prison boom, Schept provides an invaluable state of the field in carceral and Appalachian studies, using the lens of racial capitalism to interpret the region’s complex identity. He also gives an innovative model for the use of blended oral and archival historical methods to study deep historical processes that manifest in the recent past." ~The Journal of Southern History
"Prisons have proven to be unsafe and costly to operate and, as a result, many in this region have been closing at a rapid rate.…Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty." ~E. Smith, University of Delaware, CHOICE
|This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".
|The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".
|This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".
|This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.
|This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".