state:
Massachusetts
Local history:
Reforming Gender and the Carceral State
What are women’s prisons for?
University of Massachusetts Amherst
National Traveling Venue:
Forbes Library and Historic Northhampton
Forbes Library: 20 West Street | Historic Northampton: 46 Bridge Street
March 1, 2017March 30, 2017

NJ: Seeking Asylum, Resisting Detention

Exhibit on view through December 15th.

Project for Empty Space

2 Gateway Center

Newark, NJ 07102

Scroll or jump to next screen

Massachusetts: Reforming Gender and the Carceral State
What are women’s prisons for?
University of Massachusetts Amherst

The Framingham Reformatory Prison for Women, founded in 1877, catalyzed women’s carceral reform. Nineteenth-century reformers advocated for separate prisons to address women’s needs, but by criminalizing certain behaviors and promoting others through domestic skills-based programming and a strong culture of surveillance, women’s prisons became powerful enforcers of white, middle-class norms of gender and sexuality.

Built in 2007 and expanded in 2012, Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center, the state’s newest jail for women, was similarly justified as necessary to meeting women’s “distinct needs". While officials champion the jail as “gender responsive,” activists reject this notion. Women have been shackled during childbirth, denied proper prenatal nutrition, videotaped during strip searches, and many lose custody of their children. As a result of the Drug War, mandatory minimum sentences, and the decimation of the social safety net—and compounded by racism, sexism, and economic injustice—women are the fastest-growing incarcerated population in the United States.

Our Point of View

A group of women from different nations, ethnicities, and disciplines, we grapple with the intersection of gender and incarceration through the lens of two women’s prisons. Centering on women’s voices, we worked with local activists including the Statewide Harm Reduction Coalition to understand the complex ways that mass incarceration affects women in general and women of color in particular. Along with written sources and oral histories, conversations with local reproductive justice activists deeply informed our approach.

Scroll or jump to next screen

Massachusetts: Reforming Gender and the Carceral State    University of Massachusetts Amherst
What are women’s prisons for?
Massachusetts: Reforming Gender and the Carceral State
What are women’s prisons for?
  University of Massachusetts Amherst

National Exhibition Venue    Forbes Library and Historic Northhampton

Public Dialogues and Events
| March 1 – March 30, 2017

See Full Exhibition & Events Schedule
“American prisons are a business. The most disadvantaged people in the country are its enslaved workers. Our communities pay the price. ”  — Holyoke Resident
“This exhibit helps to conceptualize the scale and scope of the injustice and suffereing perpetuated on citizens by the carceral state. ”  — Michael B.

Events:

Date: 
Friday, March 3, 2017

States of Incarceration is created by over 500 people in 17 states, and growing. We explore the roots of mass incarceration in our own communities—to open national dialogue on what should happen next. Click on a state to learn more.

States of Incarceration is created by over 500 people in 17 states, and growing. We explore the roots of mass incarceration in our own communities—to open national dialogue on what should happen next. Click on a state to learn more.

Arizona

California

Connecticut

Florida

Illinois

Indiana

Louisiana

Massachusetts

Minnesota

New Jersey

New York

North Carolina

Rhode Island

Tennessee

Texas

close open menus

National Issues

(select one)

or

Tags

(select one or multiple)