Critical Prison Studies Caucus
Third World Women's Alliance members demonstrating at the Women's House of Detention, New York City; Diana Davies, Photographer; 1970
Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College

The Critical Prison Studies Caucus is a network of American studies scholars who oppose the continued centrality of prisons and policing, and who share a commitment to challenging criminalization and punishment on local, national, and global scales. We advance a combination of critical research and practice that connects the production and sharing of knowledge on incarceration to concrete work for prison industrial complex abolition and radical democracy.

The Critical Prison Studies caucus exists to:

  1. Promote scholarship that questions the continued reliance on punishment as a response to social problems.
  2. Foster dialogue between scholars and communities about imprisonment and its consequences, as well as sustainable alternatives.
  3. Encourage the ASA community to think critically about the impacts of the U.S. carceral, punishment, and surveillance regime on everyday life, culture, politics, and scholarship, as well as other areas.
  4. Create spaces where those interested in investigating imprisonment and policing from critical perspectives can collaborate and network with one another.
  5. Convene scholars and activists working for the abolition of policing and imprisonment to jointly create scholarship and apply research to organizing.


The Critical Prison Studies Caucus began in 2009. As a community of activist scholars, we consider research, teaching, and activism as mutually informing and intersecting activities. To that end, we seek to align our knowledge production with grassroots social movements. As an interdisciplinary network, we bring together and encourage work across academic disciplines, recognize the value of scholarship and analysis produced by people who have been criminalized and imprisoned, and invite new perspectives and new research in this area.