Racism, the Language of Reduced Recidivism, and Higher Education in Prison: Toward an Anti-Racist Praxis
Keywords:Higher Education in Prison, Prisons, Higher Education, Correctional Education, Prison Education, Recidivism, College-in-Prison, White Supremacy, Postsecondary Correctional Education, Hyperincarceration, Racism
This essay examines contemporary discourse alongside increased public interest regarding the provision, purposes, and outcomes of higher education for incarcerated people. Recidivism as the dominant desired outcome of higher education in the specific context of prison demands a particular kind of intervention, and in a society where Black, African American, and Latinxs are overly targeted for incarceration, rationales of reduced recidivism are disproportionately mapped onto bodies of Color. My gesture in this essay is that the language of reduced recidivism contributes to state violence that is disproportionately enacted against people of Color. I believe that directors, instructors, students, and supporters of college-in-prison programs have an opportunity to thoughtfully expand the reasons for higher education during incarceration and to counter public narratives focused on recidivism as part of an anti-racist praxis.
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