Political Theory 48 (4):421-442 (2020)

Abstract
In recent years, critiques of “carceral feminism” have proliferated, objecting to feminist support for punitive policies against sexual and gendered violence that have contributed to mass incarceration. While the convergence of feminist and antiprison efforts is important, this essay argues that critiques of carceral feminism are limited insofar as they present a binary choice between the criminal legal system and informal community justice practices. First, this binary allows critics to overlook rather than engage feminist disagreements about the state and sexual harm. Second, the narrow focus on alternative solutions to harm obscures the plural and contested nature of prison abolition, which may include efforts to seize the state and to problematize carceral logics. Drawing on Michel Foucault, alongside Angela Davis and other contemporary prison abolitionists, I suggest that feminist prison abolition is better served by envisioning a spectrum of decarceration.
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DOI 10.1177/0090591719889946
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