Session 2: Carceral landscapes

11:00-12:30    Session 2: Carceral landscapes Chair: Anna Schliehe

Prisons as post-military landscapes: Carceral spaces of demobilisation and military-civilian transition Dominique Moran (University of Birmingham, UK) and Jennifer Turner (University of Oldenburg, Germany)

This paper builds on our prior theorisation of the ‘prison-military complex’ to describe the multifaceted, multi-scalar, entrenched and polyvalent interrelationships between prison and the military (Moran, Turner & Arnold 2019). We explore the prison as a space of military-civilian transition, focusing on the under-researched experience of ex-military prison staff, many of whom seek out prison work after their demobilisation from the Armed Forces. Articulating this work with recent geographical theorisation of (post-military landscapes, we consider the ways in which the prison, as a hierarchical, male-dominated and arguably militaristic environment, acts as a site of reintegration into ‘civilian’ life for former Armed Forces personnel.

Property, racial capitalism and migrant exclusion Lauren Martin (Durham University, UK) 

This paper explores the role of property values in carceral economies of migration control. The research is based on archival research on land ownership and property values surrounding Texas detention centers. The paper seeks to do two things. First, I locate seemingly remote detention centres in logistical networks and prison infrastructures, showing how small, rural Texas town mobilize their low property values and agglomeration of incarceration institutions. Second, I interrogate those low property values to reveal intersections of colonial settlement, racialised dispossession, and resource extraction. Property and land ownership play an important role in theories of racial capitalism, as the dispossession of land and incarceration racialised groups are linked in localised economic crises (cf Gilmore 2007). My research shows that detention centres’ remoteness is highly relative; viewed in relation to other confinement institutions and transportation networks, this analysis reveals regional densities of detention location. In addition, Texas’ detention infrastructure coincides with oil and natural gas extraction, waste processing, and temporary rental housing. What these industries have in common are mobile people: temporary workers, temporary housing and (less temporary) detention and incarceration. I discuss how Texas’ detention infrastructure is, in this particular case, connected to geographies of mobility, enclosure and incarceration. I close by exploring the implications of this particular configuration proximity, distance, mobility and place for conceptualising carceral spaces more broadly.

Carceral (im)mobilities across/within spaces unknown: The fractured reentry landscape in Washington, D.C. Maya S. Kearney (American University, Washington, DC, United States) 

In Washington D.C. (D.C.), the justice system operates as a highly unknown, expansive and fractured landscape of institutions that function as trans-carceral spaces of control and punishment. As a result of the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Improvement Act of 1997, most of D.C.’s judicial and penal functions are under the control of the federal government which included the closing of its only local prison, Lorton. Since 2001, about 5000 majority Black D.C. residents are warehoused in Federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) facilities hundred and even thousands of miles away from home when convicted of a D.C. code felony. This paper introduces a conceptualization of D.C.’s unique carceral landscape through a spatial analysis that considers the voluntary and involuntary movement patterns of residents reintegrating from BOP facilities. In order to understand the exacerbated challenges of reentry for D.C. residents, I attempt to deconstruct and demystify the various forms of carceral (im)mobilities they navigate during and after release to survive under state surveillance. As such, this paper develops the concept of what I call the “intersecting liminalities” of reentry that describe the embodied and physically occupied overlapping marginalities of the carceral continuum that extends beyond the prison into community spaces of social control. The D.C. carceral state magnifies these processes due to its administrative structure of entangled federal governance and the intracontinental reach of its carceral geography. Overall, this paper provides foundational insight that can inform future research on the different types and scales of carceral spaces and the forms of state power that shape the (im)mobility of individuals under its control.