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For the Children?

Protecting Innocence in a Carceral State

2016
Author:

Erica R. Meiners

For the Children?

Centering on the child in the struggle to dismantle America’s carceral state

Placing the child at the heart of the targeted criminalization debate, Erica R. Meiners considers how perceptions of innocence, the safe child, and the future operate in service of the prison industrial complex. Meiners examines the school-to-prison pipeline and the broader prison industrial complex in the U.S., engaging fresh questions in the struggle to build sustainable and flourishing worlds without prisons.

In her brilliant and jarring analysis, Erica Meiners shatters the commonsensical narrative that we need to increasingly incarcerate in order to protect innocent children, or more insidiously, that the protection of (some) children should guide social movements. For the Children? reveals the limits and contradictions of prevailing organizational frameworks and should be required reading for anyone working toward justice.

Kevin Kumashiro, author of Bad Teacher! How Blaming Teachers Distorts the Bigger Picture

Meiners’ research examines the school-to-prison pipeline, as well as the broader prison industrial complex in the United States, where incarceration has become a key economic tool as well as a tool for maintaining white supremacist ideologies. As Meiners points out in her proposal, the U.S. has the largest prison population in the world, and incarceration here is not arbitrary, but based on skin color, class, and physical and mental health status. Meiners’ manuscript hopes to contribute to a growing body of anti-incarceration and prison justice activism in three ways. First, the mss will critically engage with the growth of sex offender registries. Second, the mss will explore the affective components of public safety. As Meiners argues, understanding mass incarceration requires us to understand questions of feelings and safety, and how these feeling are gendered and racialized. Finally, this mss will situate the child at the center of these debates, looking at how notions of innocence, the future, and the safe child function in service of the prison industrial complex.

Awards

Critics Choice Book Award from the American Educational Studies Association

For the Children?

Erica R. Meiners is professor of education and women’s and gender studies at Northeastern Illinois University. She is author of several books including Right to Be Hostile: Schools, Prisons, and the Making of Public Enemies and coauthor of Flaunt It! Queers Organizing for Public Education and Justice.

For the Children?

In her brilliant and jarring analysis, Erica Meiners shatters the commonsensical narrative that we need to increasingly incarcerate in order to protect innocent children, or more insidiously, that the protection of (some) children should guide social movements. For the Children? reveals the limits and contradictions of prevailing organizational frameworks and should be required reading for anyone working toward justice.

Kevin Kumashiro, author of Bad Teacher! How Blaming Teachers Distorts the Bigger Picture

One of our most important scholar/activists, Erica Meiners always challenges us to engage critically with the complex and sometimes surprising ideological strategies that bolster the expanding carceral state. For the Children? reveals how both prison advocates and prison abolitionists tend to rely on conventional notions of childhood and innocence. It should be read not only by movement builders but by all who believe that a world without prisons is possible.

Angela Y. Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz

Delves into topics, including sex offender registries, not typically covered in discussions of America’s booming prison-industrial complex.

Sexual Assault Report

A fierce book about race and power, one badly needed if a world without prisons is to be imagined and eventually built.

Hong Kong Review of Books

For the Children?

Contents
Introduction
Part I. Childhoods
1. Magical Age
2. The Trouble with the Child in the Carceral State
Part II. Schools and Prisons
3. Beyond Reform: The Architecture of Prison and School Closure
4. Restorative Justice Is Not Enough
Part III. Adulthoods
5. Life and Death: Reentry after Incarceration
6. Registering Sex, Rethinking Safety
IV. After and Now
7. Not This: Building Present Futures
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index