Golden Gulag Prisons Surplus Crisis and Opposition in Globalizing California [epub] author Ruth Wilson Gilmore – eBook or Kindle
And couldn t lend it to a very large and wealthy governmentland given drought debt and development farmers have increasingly been withdrawing irrigated land from production ceasing to invest in irr Finished this book a few weeks ago but didn t have chance to post review This book is really critical for understanding the why of the prison industrial complex and not just the how which I tend to think we now about Ruthie really breaks down why prisons emerged in California in the past several decades specifically surplus
labor capital and government capacity I was really trying to what she was saying in this book and the chapter on Corcoran the siting of a prison there and the effects on the town and residents drove home the discussion on political economy in chapter 2 Everyone I spoke to about this book thought that ch 2 was one of the most important but it is a little difficult to get through because it is dense Definitely worth the effort though And take notes they help I also really enjoyed the chapter on Mother s ROC since the Southern California Library owns this collection Shameless plug for the Library Note as a reminder this is a long form book reviewreflection paper for my course CPLN 624 Readings on Race Poverty and PlaceRuth Wilson Gil s Golden Gulag is about the massive growth of California s state prison system and grassroots opposition to the expanding use of prisons as fix alls to social problems For me it also became a sharp indictment of the tarnished practice of planning and the way it has left many abandoned localities eager for any means of dealing with their various surpluses and scarcities From the beginning Gil is very interested in the spatial nature of prisons The interconnection of rural and urban restructuring is clear in the seemingly unconnected geography of these prisons which are largely in the rural San Joauin Valley and their residents who are mostly from the state s urban core in Greater Los Angeles She argues that economic restructuring left both agricultural workers in rural California and wartime industrial workers in Greater Los Angeles without their jobs creating a surplus of unused land and labor This was solved by an immense state project to sell prisons as a means of capital investment in public debt low wage population control and economic development for now unused farmland For me this all connected first to ueen Sugar HAHA and then to what I m learning about regional planning sprawl and ineuity and then to the modern onset of Hail Mary economic development pitches Small towns like Corcoran s bids for big prisons seemed very similar to large cities bids for H2 or smaller cities like Camden s recruitment of corporations that insult and refuse to hire local residents Many places it seems are struggling to fix their economic challenges and finding little help from heavily subsidized big projects So Gil s detailing of the connection of forgotten places made me think a lot about what some urbanists see as the natural union between divested cities and inner ring suburbs Recently I m wondering if this union also extends to rural towns and unincorporated areas Gil shows many similarities in the abandonment and predation of these non Favored uarter landscapes In CPLN 630 we re learning about the failures that come from failing to address economic development needs in rural areas In GAFL 500 we re seeing what goes wrong when gentrification is the only form of economic development for neighborhoods in the urban core So naturally I found this to be a story about the failures of planning to account for the whole of American geography This is easily seen in many common methods the whole idea of Smart Growth is to concentrate development andor infrastructure in
land labor capital and government capacity I was really trying to
a few ey areas which is sound in few ey areas which is sound in way except the human one people often live in these non priority areas Figuring out how to encourage substantive professional planning in struggling geographies AND how to restore these abandoned communities power to plan is thus crucial It might be the best way to encourage sustainable methods of economic development in communities otherwise ravaged by the prison industry and major corporations who come cleverly disguised as their best shot good info but makes the info hard to digest. Rofound and troubling uestions for the future of California the United States and the world This revised second edition further connects California’s prison model to broader national and international trends and updates readers with developments in the 21st century including mounting grassroots opposition to the carceral state and a changing public understanding of why mass incarceration matters today.
Ruth Wilson Gilmore ´ 5 charactersThe approach that Gil takes to analysing the expansion of California s prison system centres on the political economy most especially on the pivotal moments of surplus
AND CRISIS SHE DRAWS BEAUTIFULLY ONcrisis She draws beautifully on geography to describe the prison boom in the golden state over the past three decades which has created an archipelago of prisons Gil depicts surplus state power and surplus populations most especially people of color and poor white people as the making of a crisis to which prison is posited as the solution as opposed to a number of other possibilities that might better address social instability and insecurity She challenges the media driven gang scare that wasis largely conflated with youth of colour and demonstrates that despite the hype and hysteria around crime that law and order campaigns rely upon what actually occurred in California over the past fifty years is that crime rates went up then they began to decline and then there was a crackdown ie the crackdown in the form of mass incarceration wasn t a response to increasing crime rates but actually co occurred with falling crime rates Gil complicates and critiues a number of other progressiveradical arguments that attempt to explain California s prison boom such as racial cleansing neo slavery profits and reformist demands propelling prison expansion She notes that only a small number of prisons in CA are actually privatised and also that most prisoners are idle This points to the state s primary techniue of crime deterrance through the use of prisons which is incapacitation as opposed to rehabilitation or even punishment Gil s analysis invariably returns to organised resistance throughout the book culminating in a thorough examination of the group Mothers Reclaiming Our Children This book breaks down the myths of anti prison sentiments while simultaneously providing a narrative of how the state specifically California became a prison state out of recession and surplus Gil provides the language of geographicalhistoricalcapital shifts that increased incarceration and created political tough on crime rhetorics She also layers this all with describing the racist laws and police interventions used to fill prison beds Build the prison then create the prisoner It seems to me an incredible analysis on the rise of incapacitation through prison Excellent overview of an economic and racial analysis of prisons in Cali Two things I gathered from uickly running through this as a source for something I was working on prisons as containment policy towards structural unemployment and the ey role the central valley plays as location and workforce for most prisons as well as on the political plane Downsides It could be cuz I m not used to MLA style but in some sections they gave too much clutter to the text I was hoping to find a developed political economy analysis of the central valley I don t think anyone has uite nailed that yet but its surely needed Summary Included some interesting info but it was dense and didn t answer the main uestion it addressedI ve been working through an online class to learn about the prison abolition movement and it includes several interviews with author Ruth Wilson Gil That s what led me to this academic nonfiction work of hers which purports to explain the origins of the extensive California prison system Unfortunately while this book included some fascinating information I think it failed in that primary goalI could tell this book was intended for an academic audience With the exception of one chapter on the Mothers Reclaiming Our Children ROC movement it was dense and difficult to follow It included a lot of theory history and some economicbusiness info that I struggled with However I think I followed along sufficiently to grasp the author s main argument I would summarize it as the California prison system is essentially an outlet for surplus capital that is available for investment surplus land that owners want to sell for a profit and surplus labor both in the form of the urban poor who primarily populate the prisons and the rural populations who mistakenly believe that prisons will enrich their community with jobs The author also noted that it didn t have to work out this way but fails to explain why prisons as opposed to some oth. Despite a crime rate that has been falling steadily for decades California has what a state analyst called “the biggest prison building project in the history of the world” The first detailed explanation of California’s expanding prison population Ruth Wilson Gil’s landmark award winning Golden Gulag looks at how political and economic forces ranging from global to local conjoined to produce the pris. .
Er development project ended up being the recipient of this investment of surplus resources She does identify some of the ways that prisons enforce existing race and class
HIERARCHIES BUT IF SHE POSITS THISbut if she posits this an explanatory factor I didn t catch thatAlthough I wasn t entirely persuaded by the author s main arguments I did learn a lot from this book It was an interesting if extremely academic look at a lot of the economic and political history of California The chapter I already mentioned on Mothers ROC was a particular favorite of mine It was readable and tangible than the earlier chapters which focused on theory With the exception of this single chapter though I didn t enjoy reading this very much I didn t learn what I hoped to from it and by the end I was relieved to be finished I would highly recommend reading the section on the valuable work of Mothers ROC but I m not sure the rest was worth the effortThis review was originally posted on Doing Dewey I was expecting this book to lay out the full economy of prisons but that s not what it does It does give a pretty good sense of the economics and dynamics of sitting prisons in rural communities but it doesn t go much beyond that The rest of the book deals both with the economic history in rural CA and an activist group Mothers Reclaiming Our Children I ve heard this book get talked up a lot so I was pretty disappointed Also Gil suggests but doesn t outright say that the massive prison boom in the 1980s and 1990s was the result of an economic downturn in California and a rural need for income which is an argument I m pretty skeptical of The actual reasons are much complicated and
In Good Part Socialgood part social irrational rather than economic though economics of course plays a part I gleaned a lot from the book It draws crucial links between many political economic and demographic changes that I wouldn t have pieced together on my own My reading experience was a bit marred by stylistic vices 1 complex sentences packed with abstract nouns and jargon 2 tendency to offer 2 3 nounsverbs when 1 would do and to ualify statements to death thereby trading clarity for nuanceMain take aways of value for me 1 Better understanding of connections among capitalist incentives neoliberal policies democratic and non democratic aspects of California politics harsh criminal laws eg three strikes and the prison building industry 2 Knowledge about grassroots movements driven by working class folks seeking social justice that began in LA and spread across the country 3 Perception of implicit inship between these grassroots movements and today s Occupy movement This is written by an activist trying to answer uestions asked by mothers fighting for the lives of their children in prison and grappling with the theory behind her work so you now I loved it I found it uite challenging though and I m
still thinking about how she frames the political economy of prisons and how that intersects with race Inthinking about how she frames the political economy of prisons and how that intersects with race In nutshell she argues that prisons are partial geographical solutions to political economic crises organized by the state which is itself in crisis 26 She draws on the work of Hall and Schwartz in how she thinks about and defines crisis Crisis occurs when the social formation can no longer be reproduced on the basis of the pre existing system of social relations a very technical definition I must confess But essentially it means that change has to happen the system of social relations or the social formation must shift She argues that one way maybe the only way I m out of my depth but I imagine one way for society to find itself in such a crisis is through the build up of surpluses Capitalism depends on a cycle of accumulation of goods and their sale at a profit it goes into crisis when goods simply accumulate This crisis is not simply economic but also political and social In examining the political economy of California she find four ey surpluses provoking crisis The state could have chosen different ways to resolve these surpluses but instead they chose to embark on the largest prison building program the world has ever seenSo this is the crux the four surpluses are in highly simplified formfinance capital investors specialising in public debt were having a hard time getting bonds through they had money. On boom Detailing crises that hit California’s economy with particular ferocity Gil argues that defeats of radical struggles weakening of labor and shifting patterns of capital investment have been ey conditions for prison growth The results a vast and expensive prison system a huge number of incarcerated young people of color and the increase in punitive justice such as the “three strikes” law pose