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The Knotted Line

Evan Bissell, Author

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2009: 1 Potato, 2 Potato...

2009: 7.3 million adults in the United States, or 1 in 31, are incarcerated or on parole or probation (approximately the population of LA, Chicago and Boston combined). The number of women in prison increased by 831% in the preceding 30 years. Over 7 million children have parents under supervision of the criminal justice system. The prison industrial complex is one of the largest growth industries in the U.S. economy. By 2010, nearly 400,000 people are deported yearly.

Actions for Self-Determination:

1946: At age 20, Malcolm X goes to prison. He joins the Nation of Islam and spends the remainder of his life fighting for human rights.
2010: Community in Unity (15 organizations from across the South Bronx and New York) develops 50 alternatives for using $375 million to build a proposed 2,000 bed jail in Hunts Point, Bronx. The coalition is successful in defeating the jail in that location.
2011: Massive Occupy demonstrations spring up across the country, bringing the impacts of capitalism and neoliberalism back to the public sphere for widespread debate. Of the many actions is the National Occupy Day in support of prisoners and numerous actions for education.

Discussion Questions:

  • How does incarceration impact you?
  • How, if at all, does your family talk about incarceration?
  • How are incarcerated people viewed in your family and community? Where do you get your views about incarcerated people?
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