Race as a Carceral Terrain: Black Lives Matter Meets Reentry

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In the United States, racialized people are disproportionately selected for punishment. Examining punishment discourses intersectionally unearths profound, unequal distinctions when controlling for the variety of victims’ identities within the punishment regime. For example, trans women of color are likely to face the harshest of realties when confronted with the prospect of punishment. However, missing from much of the academic carceral literature is a critical perspective situated in racialized epistemic frameworks. If racialized individuals are more likely to be affected by punishment systems, then, certainly, they are the foremost experts on what those realities are like. The Black Lives Matter hashtag came about during the aftermath of the George Zimmerman non-verdict in the killing of Trayvon Martin, and it helped to cultivate the organization which turned into a multiracial international movement in defense of Black dignity and humanity. While Black Lives Matter was initially inspired by police violence, it has expanded its reach to include causes beyond police malpractice and brutality. This special issue of The Prison Journal seeks to merge principles associated with Black Lives Matter (as noted on their website) with critical issues endemic to community reentry after incarceration and the racialized and gendered impediments it produces. The empirical pieces included are qualitative to reflect the epistemologies of the affected, as we believe that narratives more powerfully capture these hard-to-reach (or deviant in comparison to the norm) perspectives. This special issue includes articles that critically foreground the voices of formerly incarcerated citizens (including some who are mothers and fathers) and reentry service providers. Importantly, it provides suggestions for new directions in reimagining a more democratic and racially equitable society without current punishment regimes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-395
Number of pages9
JournalPrison Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019


  • Black Lives Matter
  • fatherhood
  • intersectionality
  • motherhood
  • racialized punishment
  • reentry


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