Sex, Gender, and the Carceral State
March 18, 2016
Cabral Center, John D. O’Bryant African American Institute
Schedule of Events
Registration and Breakfast
Welcome and Introduction
Uta Poiger, Dean, College of Social Sciences & Humanities, Northeastern University
Suzanna Walters, Director, Northeastern University WGSS Program
9: 15 am
Panel 1: History and Context
Moderator: Aziza Ahmed, Northeastern University
This opening panel explores the role of feminist and LGBT activists in challenging or participating in the rise of the carceral state, examines the role of sexuality in the rise of systems of surveillance and punishment, and critically interrogates the ways in which the U.S. government exports the U.S. criminal justice enterprise.
Mimi Kim, California State University, Long Beach
Dancing the Carceral Creep
The criminalization of violence against women over the past forty years represents both social movement success and the paradoxical alignment of feminism with increasingly punitive carceral policies. A historical analysis of the shifting social movement field during its formative years from 1973 to 1986 refutes dominant social movement paradigms for understanding social movement cooptation and demobilization. A closer focus at the historical construction of the anti-domestic violence social movement field during this period reveals the ways that the very dynamics of social movement success generate the conditions for an expanding carceral state, eventually resulting in blurred boundaries between civil society and the state and the domination of the field by criminal justice institutions and carceral political logics. This presentation uses the historical case study of California and Minnesota and the development of the Victim Witness Program and Coordinated Community Response in the early 1980s to demonstrate the shifting relationship between feminist social movements and the criminal justice system.
Jessica Pliley, Texas State University
Protecting White Slaves or Policing Prostitutes? Sex Trafficking, the FBI, and the Mann Act, 1900-1941
In 1910, American opponents to sex trafficking pressured the U.S. Congress to pass the White Slave Traffic Act. The federal law made it illegal to take a woman or girl over state lines for the purpose of prostitution, debauchery, or “any other immoral purpose.” Though numerous scholars have noted the origins of the ‘white slave panic’ and the White Slave Traffic Act, popularly known as the Mann Act, few have examined how the expansive federal law was actually enforced by the Department of Justice. This paper examines how a law intended to protect American white women and girls from sex trafficking was transformed into an instrument to police their sexual mobility.
Allegra McLeod, Georgetown University
Beyond the Carceral State
McLeod’s project Beyond the Carceral State explores the expansion of U.S. carceral practices, both in the United States and as the U.S. Government has worked to transform the criminal processes of countries around the world, from Central America to Iraq and Afghanistan. Amidst the other forms of suffering the U.S. carceral state has wrought, it is also responsible for severely constricting the collective imagination of what justice might entail instead.
Panel 2: Profiling and Incarceration
Moderator: Libby Adler, Northeastern University
This panel will deepen our exploration of the realities and lived experiences of individuals profiled and incarcerated. In particular, the panel will explore how gender, sexuality, race, and class structure profiling and shape the way specific communities are surveilled and harassed outside of prison and treated differentially once incarcerated.
Fred Ginyard, FIERCE
The Myth of the Broken Window
Across the United States we often hear the phrases Broken Windows Theory and Quality of Life Policing as tools to keep our communities safe. However, in New York City where Broken Windows and Quality of Life Policing has flourished we know our city is not safer because of these laws. Today we dispel the myth of the broken window and ask Whose Quality of Life are we protecting?
Monica Jones, Activist and Advocate
Shannon Erwin, Muslim Justice League
Examining Countering “Extremism” Campaigns: Messaging and Impacts
Justifications for “war on terror” projects often leverage western interest in sex, gender and power relations within Muslim societies. Currently, notions of gendered oppression may be employed to advance domestic campaigns known as preventing/countering violent extremism (“CVE”). Though asserted by proponents to offer alternatives to imprisonment, or to advance gender equality, CVE has operated in practice to police and obstruct dissent, including through expansion of “soft” surveillance. I discuss CVE’s impacts on Muslim communities to-date and the campaign’s implications for differential treatment prior to, during and post-incarceration.
Activist table available
Panel 3: Incarceration and Occupation
Moderator: Stu Marvel, Northeastern University
This panel will explore the realities of everyday life as an incarcerated individual. In particular, the panel will particularly focus on incarcerated LGBT people.
Gabriel Arkles, Northeastern University
Regulating Prison Sexual Violence
An end to sexual violence requires bodily autonomy, sexual self-determination, redistribution of wealth and power, and an end to subordination based on gender, race, disability, sexuality, nationality, and class. Because the project of incarceration does not align with bodily autonomy, sexual self-determination, redistribution, or anti-subordination, tensions arise within areas of law that purport to prohibit sexual violence in or through prisons. This article examines these tensions, analyzing the ways in which constitutional, statutory, and administrative law permit or require correctional staff, medical personnel, and law enforcement officers to control, view, touch, and penetrate bodies in nonconsensual, violent, and intimate ways — sometimes while using the rhetoric of ending sexual violence. In particular, the article focuses on searches, nonconsensual medical interventions, and prohibitions of consensual sex as ways that prison systems perpetrate sexual violence against prisoners while often complying with First, Fourth and Eighth Amendment law and the Prison Rape Elimination Act. While these practices harm all prisoners, they can have particularly severe consequences for prisoners who are transgender, women, queer, disabled, youth, or people of color. This article raises questions about the framing of sexual violence as individual acts that always take place outside or in violation of the law, suggesting that in some contexts the law still not only condones sexual violence, but also acts as an agent of sexual violence.
Amahl Bishara, Tufts University
The Elimination of Palestinian Childhood: Gender, Imprisonment, and Violence
In 1988, a Palestinian writer observed that childhood had disappeared under military occupation: “A ten-year-old boy shot by the military forces is reported to be a ‘young man of ten.’” In this paper, I draw on ethnography from a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank to explore how the elimination of childhood—and especially boyhood—plays out and how it affects boys, girls, men, and women. The racialized criminalization of Palestinian boys also has larger political effects in terms of the workings of Israeli settler-colonialism. In the face of pervasive violence and widespread incarceration, arts and media can help us remember and mark the depth of individual losses and also to place them in a comparative global context.
Jill McCorkel, Villanova University
From Good Girls to “Real” Criminals: Dissecting the Market Logic and Racial Politics of Incarcerating Women
By now, the story of how the Drug War gave rise to the phenomenon of mass incarceration is a familiar one: the implementation of lengthy, mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related offenses and extensive deployment of law enforcement to targeted communities (primarily African American and Latino, urban neighborhoods) sent millions of Americans to prison and made the United States the world leader in incarceration. What is less familiar is the impact of this on women, particularly African American and Latina women. From the mid 1990s forward to the present day, the rate at which the U.S. incarcerates women is historically and globally unprecedented. Indeed, a recent report from the International Centre for Prison Studies finds that in 2013 the US incarcerates nearly a third of the world’s women prisoners (China and Russia place a very distant second and third). The staggering increase in the number of incarcerated women has had profound consequences for women’s prisons, shaping both the ideology and practice of punishment & control. In this paper, I examine the role that private vendors and racial logic played in shaping punitive punishment outcomes, with a particular focus on how African American and Latina women are simultaneously being framed as a source of pathology and profit.
Panel 4: Social Movements and Alternatives
Moderator: Sarah Jackson, Northeastern University
This panel will explore the relationship between social movements and alternatives to the carceral state. In particular, the panel will discuss new efforts to challenge police practices and incarceration and state surveillance.
Jason Lydon, Black & Pink
Ending Sexual Violence as a Strategy for Abolition
Andrea Ritchie, Soros Justice Fellow
Say Her Name: Policing Race, Sex, and Gender in the Carceral State
The past 18 months have seen unprecedented attention to individual incidents of police profiling and violence against Black women and LGBTQ people thanks to the #SayHerName and #BlackLivesMatter movements – and to decades of research and organizing that preceded it. Individual incidents which have come to light reflect long standing patterns of gender and sexuality-specific policing and criminalization of race, poverty and place, as well as the role of law enforcement in regulating racially gendered bodies and sexualities in the carceral state. In addition to summarizing the current state of knowledge and organizing around Black women’s experiences of policing, Ritchie will discuss how bringing these experiences to the center of the current discourse around racial profiling, police violence and mass incarceration necessarily expands our understandings of the impacts of policing practices, the limits of law, and the judicial, legislative, and policy remedies we seek.
Chase Strangio, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project
Can Lawyers Tranform the System? Reflections on Litigation and Advocacy Reform
Panel 4: A Concluding Conversation
All panelists will engage in a roundtable discussion to conclude the days’ proceedings.An open discussion between panelists and audience members.
Moderator: Suzanna Walters, Northeastern University
The conference will be followed by a reception held at Northeastern University School of Law, Dockser Hall.
Welcome and Remarks: Dean Jeremy Paul
Gabriel Arkles is an Associate Teaching Professor at Northeastern University School of Law, a Board member of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and a volunteer with Black and Pink. His work has focused on issues of race, gender, and disability in the law, particularly issues confronting trans and gender nonconforming prisoners. While in practice at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project from 2004 to 2010, he played a key role in changing New York State policies for LGBT youth in juvenile detention, obtained expungement of a disciplinary conviction where the prisoner had been disciplined for “sexual contact” after having been raped, and helped many clients get access to basic medical care while incarcerated. He joined the NYU Lawyering Program as an Acting Assistant Professor of Lawyering in 2010, and joined the faculty at Northeastern in 2013. Currently, he teaches in the Legal Skills in Social Context program as an Associate Teaching Professor.
Amahl Bishara is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Tufts University whose research revolves around expression, space, media, and settler colonialism. Amahl is the author of Back Stories: US News Production and Palestinian Politics (Stanford University Press 2013) and regularly writes for such outlets as Jadaliyya, Middle East Report. Amahl produced the documentary “Degrees of Incarceration” (2010), which explores how, with creativity and love, a Palestinian community resonds to the crisis of political imprisonment. Amahl is currently at work on two book projects, one of which is tentatively titled “Permission to Converse: Laws, Bullets, and Other Roadblocks to a Palestinian Exchange” and which addresses the relationship between Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank, and the second of which examines Palestinian popular politics in a West Bank refugee camp.
Shannon Erwin is a co-founder and executive director of the Muslim Justice League, a Boston-based Muslim-led organization advocating for human and civil rights that are threatened in the ongoing “war on terror.” Previously, Shannon worked with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), where she directed MIRA’s state- and local-level policy campaigns to advance immigrants’ rights, and with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute’s Immigrants Protection Project. Outside MJL, Shannon serves on the Board of Directors of the ACLU of Massachusetts.
Fred Ginyard was born and raised in North Philadelphia by his mother, Karen Kee. During Fred’s freshmen year at Edison High School, they joined Youth United for Change. As a member of the organization Fred learned the skills to be an organizer and an agent for social change. At 19, Fred joined the staff of Youth United for Change as a Youth Organizer. During Fred’s tenure, Fred worked with youth from Olney High school on several campaigns that included the creation of Small Schools at Olney High School and working with the Youth United for Change’s Citywide Chapter on ending the school to prison pipeline by reforming the School District of Philadelphia discipline policies. After being of staff at Youth United for Change for nine years Fred moved to New York City and joined the staff of FIERCE as the National Program Coordinator, where Fred worked to complete FIERCE’s national report “Moving Up Fight Back: Creating a Path to LGBTQ youth Liberation.” This report is a national field scan on issues impacting LGBTQ youth from across the country. Due to Fred’s immense success he was promoted to Director of Organizing. As the Director of Organizing, Fred spearheaded FIERCE’s new campaign called “Quality of Life Bow Down” (QOL Bow Down) which aims to dismantle New York City’s Quality of Life laws. Fred plans to continue to build relationships and support LGBTQ youth of color to build their power to hold city, state, and federal agencies and officials accountable to providing them with every opportunity to be safe.
Monica Jones is a transgender activist and social work student at Arizona State University. In May 2013, shortly after protesting a controversial program known as Project ROSE, Monica was arrested in Phoenix, AZ for “manifestation of prostitution”. She was found guilty in April 2014 but the conviction was vacated in January of 2015. Her case has called international attention to both the injustice of US prostitution laws and the ways in which they are used by police to target marginalized groups, such as trans women and people of color.
Mimi Kim is a long-time advocate and activist working on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault with a focus on immigrant communities of color. She is a co-founder of Incite! Women and Trans People of Color Against Violence and the founder of Creative Interventions, a resource center started in 2004 to create and promote alternative community-based interventions to interpersonal violence. She is currently working on a California initiative to build community capacity to provide alternative violence intervention options. Mimi is an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work at California State University Long Beach.
Rev. Jason M. Lydon is a Unitarian Universalist community minister and the National Director of Black and Pink, an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and ‘free world’ allies who support each other. Jason started Black and Pink in 2005 after his own incarceration. Black and Pink is now a nationwide volunteer organization that, along with other programs, reaches over 10,000 LGBTQ prisoners with a monthly newspaper of majority prisoner-generated content. Jason was the lead author on “Coming Out of Concrete Closets: A Report on Black and Pink’s National LGBTQ Prisoner Survey”. Jason has also published numerous articles on prison abolition, the specific impacts of prisons on LGBTQ people, and the need to prioritize ending sexual violence in prison as a tactic for the movement to abolish the prison industrial complex.
Jill McCorkel is Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology and a faculty associate of the Africana Studies Program at Villanova University. She is a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Research on Families at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. She received her PhD in Sociology at the University of Delaware. Dr. McCorkel’s research investigates the social and political consequences of mass incarceration in the United States. She focuses primarily on how law and systems of punishment perpetuate race, class, and gender-based inequities. In 2014, she received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology Division of Women and Crime. Her recent book, Breaking Women: Gender, Race, and the New Politics of Imprisonment (New York University Press, 2013) was a finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Dr. McCorkel is currently involved in developing Villanova’s undergraduate degree program at SCI-Graterford, the largest maximum security prison in Pennsylvania.
Allegra M. McLeod is an Associate Professor at Georgetown University Law Center. Her research and teaching interests include criminal law, immigration law, international and comparative law, and legal and political theory. Prior to coming to Georgetown, McLeod practiced immigration and criminal law at the California-Mexico border as an Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellow and staff attorney with the ABA Immigration Justice Project, an organization she helped to create. She has taught political theory at Stanford University, served as a consulting attorney with the Stanford Immigrants’ Rights and Criminal Defense Clinics, worked with the ACLU National Prison Project, and clerked for Judge M. Margaret McKeown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, Ph.D. and M.A. from Stanford University, and she also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in political theory at Stanford University. Her publications appear in the Georgetown Law Journal, California Law Review, UCLA Law Review, Yale Law & Policy Review, Harvard Unbound, and American Criminal Law Review.
Jessica Pliley is an assistant professor of women, gender and sexuality history at Texas State University. She is the author of Policing Sexuality: The Mann Act and the Making of the FBI (Harvard University Press, 2014) and co-editor of Global Anti-Vice Activism: Fighting Drink, Drugs, and ‘Immorality’, 1880-1950 (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Her articles on the international anti-sex trafficking movement and enforcement of the laws that it inspired have been publish be the Journal of Women’s History, Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, and the Journal of the History of Sexuality. Her current book project explores the long history of anti-sex trafficking politics.
Andrea Ritchie is a Black lesbian police misconduct attorney and organizer who has engaged in extensive research, writing, litigation, organizing and advocacy on profiling, policing, and physical and sexual violence by law enforcement agents against women, girls and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of color over the past two decades. In 2014 she was awarded a Senior Soros Justice Fellowship. Andrea is co-author of Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women (African American Policy Forum July 2015); A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People Living with HIV (Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School, 2014), and Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States (Beacon Press 2011), and author of Law Enforcement Violence Against Women of Color, in The Color of Violence: The INCITE! anthology (2006, South End Press), and a number of law review articles on racialized policing of gender, gender identity, and sexuality. She is currently at work on a book titled Invisible No More: Racial Profiling and Police Brutality Against Black Women and Women of Color to be published by Beacon Press in 2017. Andrea helped found Streetwise & Safe (SAS), www.streetwiseandsafe.org, a leadership development initiative aimed at sharing “know your rights” information, strategies for safety and visions for change among LGBT youth of color who experience of gender, race, sexuality and poverty-based policing and criminalization.
Chase Strangio is a Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project. Chase’s work includes impact litigation, as well as legislative and administrative advocacy, on behalf of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV across the United States. Chase has expertise on the treatment of transgender and gender non-conforming people in police custody, jails, prisons and other forms of detention and currently represents Chelsea Manning in her lawsuit against the Department of Defense for refusing to adequately treat her gender dysphoria. Prior to joining the ACLU, Chase was the Director of Prisoner Justice Initiatives at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, where he represented transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in confinement settings. In 2012, Chase founded the Lorena Borjas Community Fund, an organization that provides direct bail/bond assistance to LGBTQ immigrants in criminal and immigration cases.
Libby Adler has written extensively on sexuality, gender, family and children, including foster care, and draws heavily from queer and critical theory. She is a co-editor of the casebook Mary Joe Frug’s Women and the Law (4th ed.). She also has written about contemporary legal issues arising out of Nazism. She teaches Constitutional Law, Sexuality, Gender and the Law, Family Law, Administrative Law and Trusts and Estates. Prior to joining the permanent faculty, Professor Adler served Northeastern as a visiting professor in 1999-2000 and as a part-time lecturer in 1998-1999, while also a visiting researcher and graduate fellow at Harvard Law School. In the 1990s, she practiced as a policy attorney for the Massachusetts child support enforcement agency, drafting legislation and regulations. She received the Northeastern University Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007-2008.
Aziza Ahmed is an expert in health law, criminal law, science and the law, law and development, sexuality, and race. Her scholarship examines the role of science and activism in shaping global and national legal regimes with a particular focus on criminal laws that impact health. She teaches Property Law, Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights, and International Health Law: Governance, Development, and Rights. Prior to joining Northeastern, Professor Ahmed was a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health Program on International Health and Human Rights. She has consulted with various United Nations agencies and international and domestic non-governmental organizations. Professor Ahmed holds a JD from the University of California Berkley, an MS in Population and International Health from the Harvard School of Public Health, and a BA from Emory University.
Sarah J. Jackson’s research and teaching interests revolve around how social and political identities are debated in the public sphere. Dr. Jackson is particularly interested in how race and gender are constructed in national debates around citizenship, inequality, and social movements. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Communication, The International Journal of Press Politics, and Feminist Media Studies. Her first book, Black Celebrity, Racial Politics, and the Press: Framing Dissent, was published in 2014, her current book project focuses on the activism of digital counterpublics. Dr. Jackson is frequently called on as an expert by local and national media outlets including WCVB-Boston (ABC), WGBH-Boston (NPR), Politico, The Marc Steiner Show, and Bitch magazine.
Stu Marvel is a Visiting Scholar in WGSS at Northeastern University and Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Emory University, where she works on issues related to reproductive technology, law, sexuality and the family. She was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Vulnerability and Human Condition Initiative at Emory Law, where she continues to teach on both vulnerability and feminist legal theory. Marvel received her PhD from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada, where her research involved a critical and empirical study of LGBTQ families and their experiences with assisted reproductive technology. She received her LLM at Osgoode Hall, and an MA in Gender Analysis for International Development from the University of East Anglia. She has held visiting scholar positions at the Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality at Kent Law School, and the Feminism and Legal Theory Project at Emory Law. Marvel worked as communications liaison at the Korean National Commission for UNESCO in South Korea and served as gender advisor to the Ministry of Women in The Gambia.
Suzanna Walters work centers on questions of gender, sexuality, family, and popular culture and she is a frequent commentator on these issues for the media. Her most recent book, The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes, and Good Intentions are Sabotaging Gay Equality (NYU Press), explores how notions of tolerance limit the possibilities for real liberation and deep social belonging. Walters’ previous book, All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America (University of Chicago Press, 2001), examined the explosion of gay visibility in culture and politics over the past 15 years and raised pressing questions concerning the politics of visibility around sexual identity. The book was a finalist for numerous literary awards (including the Lambda Literary Award). Her other works include books on feminist cultural theory (Material Girls: Making Sense of Feminist Cultural Theory), mothers and daughters in popular culture (Lives Together/Worlds Apart: Mothers and Daughters in Popular Culture) and numerous articles and book chapters on feminist theory, queer theory and LGBT studies, and popular culture. In 2004, Walters founded the first Ph.D. program in gender studies at Indiana University, where she was a Professor of Gender Studies and held positions in Sociology and Communication and Culture. Previously, Walters was Professor of Sociology and Director of Women’s Studies at Georgetown University. She was also a Visiting Senior Scholar at the Center for Narrative Research at the University of East London. She received her Ph.D. from the Graduate Center, City University of New York in 1990.