global prisoners

August 20, 2009 § 1 Comment

AMERICA leads the world in incarcerations, both in terms of the total number of people it puts inside and in the proportion of its citizens that end up behind bars. China lies comfortably ahead of Russia in third place, though a far smaller percentage of China’s population ends up in the clink. Though India is in fifth place over all, just 33 people in every 100,000 are thrown in the slammer.


& after reading vikki’s book i want this book: Global Lockdown: Race, Gender and the Prison Industrial Complex

here is an excerpt from the book review in the new socialist:

Criminalizing Survival

The first part of the book maps the ways in which women’s survival strategies are criminalized. Asale Angel-Ajani explores the policing of immigrants, particularly African women, in Italy, which experienced a 50 per cent rise in its prison population over two years due to the immigrants, drug users and sex trade workers held in custody. The author points to policies such as the increased use of preventative detention under Italy’s “Operation Clean Hands”, immigration controls, and heightened penalties for drug use.

In Canada, Aboriginal women and youth disproportionately fill our prisons. First Nations ex-prisoner Lisa Neve and activist Kim Pate tell the story of Neve’s designation as a dangerous offender in 1994, a court decision that carries an indefinite sentence. Neve writes about her successful struggle to overturn this label, and the Court of Appeal judgment that ruled her crimes were connected to her efforts to survive, including her involvement in the sex trade. Her story shows how classification of women is dangerous, as it’s based on the impossible prediction of future behaviour, as well as gender and racial discrimination. Women who refuse to be “managed” by the corrections system receive the harshest treatment. Pate illustrates how the neo-liberal destruction of social safety nets collides with colonization and poverty on a systemic level.

Stormy Ogden, an ex-prisoner of indigenous Yokuts and Pomo ancestry, examines California’s prison industrial complex. She discusses the role of prison labour and its colonial roots. Native youth activists experience the devastation of foreign laws and are sent to prison for defending their native burial grounds and lands. The author, sentenced to five years for welfare fraud, describes the intersecting high rates of imprisonment and sexual violence of native women as genocidal. She concludes, “What was my crime? Being an America Indian woman.”


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