Try imagining a world without prisons, or punishment for what governments and societies deem “crimes” and “criminals,” for that matter. My Critical Approaches in Social and Cultural Theory class last semester tried doing so when we read Angela Davis’s Are Prisons Obsolete? to extract the functions of prisons and punishment in contemporary time-spaces. Funnily enough, our reading of Davis coincided with the height of my Law & Order: Special Victims Unit infatuation. Episodes streamed back to back thanks to Netflix, and I gorged on the justice Detectives Benson and Stabler served to NYC perpetrators without engaging the ramifications of imprisonment. Law & Order comprises only a fraction of police/crime dramas that inform U.S. popular imagination of what prisons look like and do. In reflecting on the “Prisons and Capital Punishment” workshop, I hope to offer a transitional space to critically examine imprisonment for the upcoming “Prison Abolition” workshop at The Scholar & Feminist 2013: Utopia conference.
“Prisons and Capital Punishment” workshop led by Cathleen Price and Shari Silberstein.