† Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.
“PriSchool” ~ Architecture of Oppression
by Kay Whitlock and Nancy A Heitzeg
The thesis looks to address the outflow of prisoners and combat the challenges of recidivism. This is done through the implementation of a new typology of prison facility that symbiotically merges the program of incarceration and education. The prison would be a prison for non-violent drug offenders. The school would be a school of criminology and criminal justice. – Glen J. Santayana
Looking like a gigantic set of stacked animal cages and set off by a dry moat (a new urban iteration of the “ha ha wall”), the so-called (and coyly named) “PriSchool” is perhaps the most obviously (perhaps unintentionally) grotesque example of the kind of proposed criminal legal system “reform” being advanced these days. One need not question Glen Santayana’s presumably good intentions in order to challenge the design, and assumptions on which it appears to be based.
Maybe the “stacked animal cages” look isn’t entirely coincidental. The “school” part of the design is twofold: vocational skills – carpentry, cooking, mechanics, beautyshop/barbering, etc. – will be taught to prisoners who, in turn, may obtain a GED and will be studied by “interact with” non-inmate students pursuing knowledge at the PriSchool’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. In time, former prisoners may be hired as snitches consultants to criminal investigations.