From Extraction to Repression:
Prison Labor, Prison Finance, and the Prisoners’ Rights Movement in North Carolina
[Forthcoming in Prison/Work: Labor in the Carceral State, edited by Erin Hatton, under contract with University of California Press]

This article examines how shifts in North Carolina’s system of prison labor and finance shaped—and were shaped by—prisoners’ activism. During the mid-1970s, pressure from constitutional rights litigation, new federal standards, and rising incarceration rates forced state leaders to pay for their prisons exclusively through tax dollars rather than forced prison labor for the first time. This transition, I show, weakened the ability of prisoners to leverage their labor for change and helped pave the way for the emergence of new penal facilities designed to warehouse rather than rehabilitate or economically exploit incarcerated men and women.

Imprisoned men work on Caledonia Prison Farm during the 1950s  (North Carolina Prison Enterprises)

Imprisoned men work on Caledonia Prison Farm during the 1950s
(North Carolina Prison Enterprises)