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Brooke Jones ARCH 180 Prisons Unit One Reflection February 17, 2014 An erasure of history has been

n an ever present tactic employed by carceral regimes. Examples range from seizures of cultural relics from Native American children forced into boarding schools to the practice of assigning new white names to slaves and numbers to inmates. These practices imply that the breaking of ties to historical reference or the past heighten the ability to control and mass incarcerate. In light of this, history must not be ignored in a critical study of prison or else one falls victim to a method employed by the very systems of mass incarceration in order to maintain power and control. A thorough understanding and exploration of the historical European creation of race along with systems of mass incarceration must be brought to light in order to 1) break the cognitive conventions that inhibit an objective study and 2) trace the origins in order to explore the questions of who has the power? and howd they get it? in order to finally 3) understand what drives the policy that keeps the system perpetuated today (i.e. how is it maintained?)1 A historical study exposes cognitive conventions or longstanding ideologies that have become a part of the overculture, thus normalizing and enabling the current system of mass incarceration. In Exclusion and Control in the Carceral State, Dolovich examines how history is reflected in the media and political economy we consume each day that establishes an unquestionable status quo. Quoting Mary Douglas, Dolovich states for an institution to take hold and succeed, it needs a parallel cognitive convention to sustain it, a way of justifying its existence that fit(s) with the nature of the universe as understood by those acting within it. In Are Prisons Obsolete, Angela Davis discusses how images in film and pop-culture contribute to this collective cognitive convention that legitimizes carceral institutions and makes practices of exclusion from society seem reasonable by normalizing prisons. Media such as flyers and public pamphlet propaganda was historically used to perpetuate racial segregation and maintain the power status quo. Cartoons were used to dehumanize people based on race. These practices further separated them and were forms of exclusion. Today, in the absence of blatant racial propaganda it may not be as easy to trace the historical origins of exclusion and control. It may be hard to see the strong connections between race and exclusion that are embedded in the blanketing overcultures normalized mass incarceration practices. In The New Jim Crow, Alexander states today the political fanfare and racialized rheotirc regarding crime and drugs are no longer necessary. Mass incarceration has been normalized, and all of the racial stereotypes and assumptions that gave rise to the system are now embraced (or at least internalized). Alexander also visits the historical role of media in establishing these stereotypes when discussing that for more than three decades images of black men in handcuffs have been a regular staple of the evening news. A critical historical

Three Questions: Who has the power? Howd they get it? How is it maintained? from Class Lecture

analysis of Media over times is necessary to shed light on the subtle evolution of undercurrent racism and perpetuating systems of profiling. A historical survey is valuable in accessing the origins and tracing the source of power (i.e. who has the power? howd they get it?) The narratives of the displaced and imprisoned are not easily accessible. They have been inherently silenced and hidden by the very nature of the systems and institutions that govern their control. In Lecture the question was presented, could we have a system of mass incarceration without racism? The historical roots stretch back to the European invasion of North America in which incarceration was practiced. In America today we may seem not be practicing a form of genocide, displacement, and imprisonment on the scale of colonization or slavery. However, it may have just taken a different shape. In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander maps the parallels through highlighting Americas new racial undercaste a group defined wholly or largely by race that is permanently locked out of mainstream white society by law, custom, and practice by an elaborate system of control complete with political disenfranchisement and legalized discrimination in economic and social life. The system of oppression is still present and alive. A historical survey is valuable in mapping the evolution of carceral practices and exclusion. Historical analysis aids in understanding what drives the policy that keeps the system perpetuated today (i.e. how is it maintained?) Alexander argues that there is nothing new about mass incarceration. It is merely a continuation of past drug wars and biased law enforcement practices racial bias in our criminal justice system is simply and old problem that has gotten worse. Alexander also discuss how self-perpetuating system of Jim Crow operated. Police would be rewarded through drug forfeiture and federal grant programs, for rounding up as many people as possible from poor communities of color. This illustrates the weight of policy in establishing and maintaining carceral systems. In Exclusion and Control in the Carceral State, Sharon Dolovich discusses two major policies that have emerged, namely Life With Out Parole (LWOP) and Supermax, along with what they reveal about the structure of the broader penal system in which they arose. Dolovich continues to state that LWOP and supermax simply enact the practical mechanics of incarceration: the exclusion from the shared public space of those deemed a threat to public order and security, and the exercise of state control to keep those marked out for such exclusion separate and apart from society The success of these new policy enactments revels the centrality of these imperatives to the contemporary American prison system. These practices are just further evolutions and extensions of the same civil rights violations aimed at controlling and segregating populations that were practiced by the European colonial invasion. If History was not of value, then it would not have been ripped from populations by the carceral regimes that sought power over them. The removal of language, cultural property, and place would not have been a reoccurring tactic of those seeking to maintain power and sever connections to the prisoners past. There is a danger in the loss of history. Without knowledge of collective history we are unable to think critically and form an analytical palimpsest as we trace the present condition of prison over our past by examining the questions of who has the power? howd they get it? and how is it maintained?.