Sunbelt Prisons and the Carceral State

Held Saturday March 24, 2012 on the campus of Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

Declaring that today’s racially disproportionate rates of incarceration represent "a New Jim Crow," scholar Michelle Alexander has argued that "We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." Historians should have something important to say about such matters, and the histories of region, geography, and space play crucial roles in this reconsideration.  The Clements Center's annual symposium explores Professor Alexander’s assertion by considering the historic role of the American Southwest and its borderlands in shaping what many historians now call the "carceral state."

Building on the innovative fall 2011 symposium held at the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Center of the American West, the spring 2012 symposium offered a different platform than the academic seminars of years past.

Conference Organizers and Book Editors: 
Robert T. Chase
, CUNY-Stonybrook
Norwood Andrews
, University of Texas-Pan American

 Constructing Region: Gender and Southern Roots of the Carceral State

  • Pippa Holloway, Middle Tennessee State University, "'They Are All She Had':  Formerly Incarcerated Women and the Right to Vote in the Early 20th Century"

  • Norwood Andrews, University of Dallas, "Historic Foundations of Prison Privatization: Sugar and Convict Lease in Texas"

  • Talitha LeFlouria, Florida Atlantic University, "‘She Can Hit the Iron While It's Hot and Bend It Into Any Shape She Desires’: Black Women and Convict Labor in Georgia, 1865-1917"

Policing Race, Space, the Borderlands, and Immigration

  • Ethan Blue, University of Western Australia, “The Means and Meanings of Coercive Mobility: The Emergence of America’s Deportation Regime, 1914-1931”

  • Kelly Lytle Hernández, University of California at Los Angeles, "Rebellion from the Jails:  A History of Community in Los Angeles, 1900-1910"

Constructing & Confronting the Sunbelt’s Carceral State

  • Vivien Miller, University of Nottingham, U.K., "Prison Growth, State Power, and Florida's 'Big Bang': Florida's Penal Frontier in the Early Sunbelt Years"

  • Heather McCarty, Ohlone College, "Blood In, Blood Out: The Emergence of Prison Gangs in California, 1960-1980"

  •  Robert T. Chase, College of Charleston, "'Rioting Peacefully in Carceral States: Rethinking Prison Uprisings in the Sunbelt after Attica, 1970-1985”

The Age of Mass Incarceration in the Sunbelt

  •  Volker Janssen, California State University at Fullerton, “Prison Privatization in the Sunbelt:  The New Deal State as Market”

  • Donna Murch, Rutgers University, "Crack, Youth Culture, and the Carceral State: Rethinking the Reagan Revolution's Impact on Black Urbanism in the Late 20th Century" 

  • Keramet Ann Reiter, University of California at Berkeley, "The Most Restrictive Alternative: The Origins of the Supermax Prison in the Sunbelt, 1970-2010 

  • David Hernandez, University of California at Los Angeles, "Blue Prints and Prototypes: Asian and Latina/o Detention in the Southwest"

Living in the Carceral State: Problems, Possibilities, & Potential Solutions

A plenary roundtable including invited guests Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson; civil rights veteran and formerly incarcerated activist Ernest McMillan; formerly incarcerated activist and host of "The Prison Radio Program" Ray Hill;  long-time civil rights and criminal defense attorney William T. Habern; director of the Human Rights Program at SMU Rick Halperin; and legal director of the ACLU of Texas Lisa Graybill.

Co-organizers of the conference and co-editors of the volume:

Robert T. Chase, Assistant Professor of History, City University of New York-Stonybrook.  In 2008-2009, he was a research fellow at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at SMU.      
Norwood Andrews, Assistant Professor History, University of Texas-Pan American.  He spent the academic year 2009-2010 as the Summerlee Foundation Fellow for the Study of Texas History at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at SMU.  

Co-sponsored by
The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University.
The Embrey Center for Human Rights at Southern Methodist University and
The Center for the American West at the University of Colorado