#66 - November 2014

Vol. 28, No.3
The Roots of Mass Incarceration in the US: Locking Up Black Dissidents and Punishing the Poor
Edited by: 
Mumia Abu-Jamal & Johanna


Mumia Abu-Jamal and Johanna

This volume is a leap into the abyss that is the American Gulag. Our purpose is to explore the origins of the current system of carceral punishment, which began to mass-incarcerate poor and working-class African Americans and Latinos...

Angela Y.

Why did mass incarceration rise in the US and what are its political uses?

What we refer to as mass incarceration reflects the soaring prison population and the prison construction boom that coincided with the rise of...

The Crisis of Mass Incarceration


Hope and Change

Abstractions are important, but when too far detached from the mulch of things they become ludicrous. If the abstractions are firmly rooted in Tradition, it becomes harder both to question them...


The single greatest political transformation of the post-Civil Rights era in the US is the joint rolling back of the stingy social state and rolling out of the gargantuan penal state that have remade the country’s...

Kevin “Rashid”

Mass imprisonment and the growth and concentration of increasingly militarized police in the oppressed communities are, like the slave patrols and racial terror of the old plantation slave system, weapons of counterinsurgency aimed at...


The video of police stopping three young black people, two men and a woman, for jaywalking, that ends with the woman screaming in the distance as cops throw her to the ground and twist her arms behind her back, becomes one of a growing...


On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, activist-scholar Michelle Alexander counseled all of us to “connect the dots,” and speak out about militarism, mass surveillance and mass incarceration. To her list, the Freedom and...

Political Imprisonment and the Roots of Mass Incarceration: State REaction to the Black Power Movement

déqui kioni-sadiki & Sekou

"America means prisons," said Black Nationalist Pan-Africanist leader Malcolm X in a television interview some fifty years ago. It wasn't about crime he was talking. A similar sentiment was shared by Frederick Douglass less than a...


Beginning in May 1985, I existed for over 14 years in various US jails and federal prisons—about 12 different institutions in all. I lived behind bars through what was probably the steepest rise in the country’s incarcerated population...

Joseph G.

If you are deaf, dumb, and blind to what is happening in the world, you’re under no obligation to do anything. But if you know what’s happening and you don’t do anything but sit on your ass, then you’re nothing but a punk...


I first heard Mumia’s voice when I took Dr. Mark Taylor’s “Systematic Theology” class my first semester at Princeton Theological Seminary. Mumia was sitting on death row, and had been for nearly 30 years—longer than I’d been alive....

Heather Ann

The Power structure led by Nelson Rockefeller, wanted to show to the world and certainly to the rebellious forces within his own country – with the advice and consent and affirmation of Richard Nixon – what the price is for...

Prison Abolition & Culture of Resistance

Mark Lewis

….salvation is a serious matter – it cost Christ His life in order to free us from our sin.
-- James C. Vogelzang, Doing HIS Time:
Meditations and Prayers for Men and Women in Prison...


This article will consider three topics: the existentiality of imprisonment, what the nature of the prison system reveals about the US as a colonialist society, and finally, some aspects of the prison abolition movement and what kinds...


Mujahid Farid and Laura

The Crisis: → The number of aging people in New York State prisons is skyrocketing, confining thousands of seniors to cruel and degrading conditions.

→ The number of incarcerated people ages 50+ in New York increased...


American film, whether documentary or fiction, has been relatively silent about the enormous prison population in the United States. The groundbreaking documentary was no doubt Frederick Wiseman’s 1967 exposé in Titicut Follies...


Letter from Keith “Malik” Washington, in Socialism and Democracy, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Nov. 2014)


Prison conditions in Texas are horrible. Now we are delving into the deep nuances of the “...


The collaboration culminating in this special issue of Socialism and Democracy was born a decade ago, when I began to visit Mumia on death row at SCI Greene in Waynesburg, PA. We never talked about the possibility of actually...

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist and author of the best-selling books, Live From Death Row and Death Blossoms. In 1981 he was elected president of the Association of Black Journalists (...