Drafted a decade after the publication of our inaugural collectively authored essay, the members of the Prison Communication, Activism, Research, and Education collective (PCARE) reflect in this article on recent shifts in criminal justice policy and public discourse regarding the carceral state. Noting a growing consensus regarding the need to reduce national incarceration rates, as well as proliferating discussion regarding police brutality and other forms of state violence, the members of PCARE advocate an orientation of nonreformist reformism when addressing the current climate. Noting that many contemporary developments regarding prisons and policing are promising, we also argue that the prison-industrial complex remains a powerful and violent force in civil society. We begin by describing the complex coalitions that have emerged around prison reform in recent years, claiming that we should temper our enthusiasm for these developments with skepticism informed by a commitment to prison abolition. We then proceed to describe recent developments and tensions related to prison pedagogy, race, and the carceral state, and the gendered politics of policing and mass incarceration. We conclude with a call for critical communication scholars to engage in communication activism with a spirit of nonreformist reform and to humbly learn from the voices and experiences of those communities most directly impacted by the prison-industrial complex. We follow this essay with a response essay drafted by a collective of incarcerated individuals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cultural Studies