While most of the dominant discourse on prison is around men and specifically black men, it is important to point out that female prison population is also growing
Since women are generally omitted from most of the scientific and social inquiries, I wonder if anyone looked into why that is, what are the special needs and challenges that women in prison face and what got them there in the first place.
As far as prison system being used as a new form of slavery, I want to again mention Foucault and his book called “Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison“. Foucault believes that we now live in a disciplinary society where several forms of practices that shape us in who we are have replaced other direct forms of control such as slavery. He believes that is a modern rational society “the disciplines became general formulas of domination”, instead of being forced into a position of domination we are instead trained to exist in a state where we are not aware of being in this position. Foucault describes how discipline while increasing the forces of the body in a physical sense, diminishes them in the form of obedience (hence the term “docile bodies”). We are raised not to challenge the way things are, we are trained to frame and perceive reality without questioning it and this results in several serious issues – it enslaves us, misleads us, eliminates freedom of thought and, as a result, stops real progress in society. This lack of internal evaluation is what Foucault believed discipline ultimately produces. Foucault states that discipline ultimately creates “docile bodies,” referring to individuals that are subjugated, obedient, and exploited. Foucault explains how sovereign government that we mentioned in class (let live or make die) was replaced with the biopolitical system (make live/let die) that targets populations rather than individuals. In the past, when we had public executions, everything that was done to individuals, although viewed today as barbaric and inhumane, it was all out in the open and can spark protest and unrest. Today, however, we are not aware of what is really going on in our prisons. We may believe that we treat prisoners more humanely, but do we really know it from experience? Foucault points out that by creating a veil between public and those imprisoned, the government has more control over populations than it ever had.