October 16, 2020
Welcome to the University of Oklahoma Carceral Studies Consortium Newsletter. The Carceral Studies Consortium strives to build a community for intellectual exploration that includes faculty, staff, graduate students, community members, practitioners, and organizers.

Carceral Studies is concerned with the independent function and nexus of the political and social systems that organize, shape, sustain, and entrench practices of punishment, surveillance, incarceration, and harm.
Today's News
On Sep. 24, a U.S. District Court Judge issued an order in a lawsuit filed on behalf of people who were incarcerated between March 27, 2020 and present against the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service. The Judge ordered the Treasury and IRS to stop withholding CARES funds from the incarcerated. The postmark deadline for filing mailed claims is October 30, 2020.  

Attica Scott, Kentucky’s only Black woman State Representative, faces charges of felony rioting, unlawful assembly, and the failure to disperse stemming from her presence at protests over the lack of justice after Breonna Taylor’s killing. This interview with Scott about the “revolutionary action” for justice covers Scott’s experience in protests, the felony charges, and other progressive measures for which she’s fighting. As an organizer and leader, Scott concludes: “The way we build power across Kentucky is if we stand with one another.”

This detailed investigative report reveals ways landlords are able to bypass D.C.’s strong tenant protections. While D.C. renters facing eviction have more rights than almost anywhere in the country, those renters must present themselves in court. This report finds the flaws in the system by which tenants are notified that they need to come to court or are being evicted. Over the span of two months, in more than 600 cases, “two process servers filed affidavits containing discrepancies that, if brought to a judge’s attention, would likely result in the eviction case being dismissed.” 

Higher temperatures correlate with worse performance for Black and Latinx children, and the “likely culprit [is] a lack of air-conditioning.” This research contributes to “a growing body of research showing that climate change in general, and rising temperatures in particular, have a greater effect on minorities.” Low-income students, particularly Black and Latinx students, due to a long history of redlining and other structural racist policies, endure worse-funded schools, which includes worse HVAC and ventilation systems. 

This series of thirty essays published by various scholars, organizers, and political prisoners shows myriad dimensions of abolition. The project, as the LEVEL Editors introduce, centers on the idea that “Not only do police and prisons fail to make us safer, but reform has only strengthened their most toxic ingrained practices... we need to invest in a future that puts justice and the needs of the community first.” Each of these essays tackles a central tenet of justice, harm, and community.

Transit systems, Enright argues, are “institutions engineered for social control, but also essential sites of collective action and resistance.” Infrastructure is a contested site of both control and resistance. This essay explores the ongoing activities of transit activists that offer a guide for “rebuild[ing] infrastructure against the status quo” to construct “new configurations of shared mobility and shared life.” These activists claim public transit as an important right but argue for more than ‘access’ and seek “the substantive capacity to manage the logistical apparatuses and organizational spaces that comprise contemporary cities."

Students at the OU Study Abroad Center in Rio de Janeiro (before its closing) participated in internships at Associação Mais Vida NGO (AVM), which supports people serving alternative sentences or those formerly incarcerated. OU faculty and AVM won a grant from the US Consulate in Rio de Janeiro to commission Acme, a Brazilian street artist, to paint murals “portraying people who are struggling to re-integrate themselves into society.” These murals “illustrate their struggles for dignity and survival” and push for a conversation on rethinking prisons and sentencing in Brazil. 

This @The_Red_Nation Twitter thread argues that Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations “are part of a long history of resistance, Indigenous internationalism, and solidarity with other oppressed peoples.” Despite the solidarity and support of Indigenous Peoples Day, Indigenous peoples face disproportionate poverty and "are also disproportionately subject to state persecution, sexual violence, discrimination, social exclusion, poverty, and homelessness.” The Red Nation argues that the celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day must include “serious demands to address the conditions of Native life.”

Instead of using the government's definition of unemployment, this report posits that true unemployment should be defined as “A person who is looking for a full-time job that pays a living wage—but who can’t find one.” Using that definition, the true unemployment rate is 26.1%, and the Black true unemployment rate is 30.4% compared to the white true unemployment rate of 23.6%. This argues that the unemployment catastrophe has “been at crisis levels for decades, but it has been hidden behind the official numbers.” 


The Consortium Newsletter will offer a roundup of a few selected articles that reflect today’s news, organizing, and thinking related to the carceral state. We understand that freedom work is built on education and engagement. Education requires an understanding of contemporary issues informed by their historical context. We hope that these curated articles will help you analyze the issues that we face and understand the community that we strive to construct.

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We encourage feedback, suggestions, and article suggestions. Please reach out to carceralstudies@ou.edu with any ideas, thoughts, or recommendations.

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Land Acknowledgment

The University of Oklahoma is on the traditional lands of the Caddo Nation and the Wichita & Affiliated Tribes. This land was also once part of the Muscogee Creek and Seminole nations. It also served as a hunting ground, trade exchange point, and migration route for the Apache, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa, and Osage nations. Today, 39 federally-recognized Tribal nations dwell in what is now the State of Oklahoma as a result of settler colonial policies designed to confine and forcefully assimilate Indigenous peoples.
The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution. ou.edu/eoo