Marie Gottschalk



Razing the Carceral State

This article examines the deeply racialized and classed architecture of the American carceral edifice to illustrate how the growing opposition to mass incarceration in the United States has tended to gravitate toward two equally flawed positions. The first focuses on racial discrimination as the main line of attack against the carceral state; the second privileges a bipartisan path out of mass incarceration, which tends to overlook the latter’s deep-seated racial and class implications. Gottschalk argues that the emphasis of recent reform discourses on fiscal costs, cost-benefits, and policy effectiveness may be suitable to the current tendency to avoid public debates on controversial issues like racism and the criminalization of poverty. However, the now prevalent technocratic approach is largely inadequate to the challenge of dismantling the prison state.

neoconservative penal policy, racism, criminalization of poverty

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 42, No. 2 (2015): 31-51


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