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"you couldn't get away from it": entanglements of incarceration and climate change

Climate change disproportionately burdens the most vulnerable segments of our society, putting those with the fewest resources at greatest risk. Mass incarceration does the same, destabilizing families and communities, and derailing lives. You may be well aware of this – but have you considered the ways that these two phenomena are entangled? 

This installation introduces visitors to the ways that incarceration and climate change intersect in the United States, with each amplifying the harms inflicted by the other. Scholars, activists, and the general public are only just beginning to contend with the urgent implications of these intersections and the feedback loops they create. 

If you visit this exhibit, we ask you to keep these things in mind:


+ When we talk about incarcerated people, we are talking about people---human beings with lives, hopes, feelings, and dignity.


+ The U.S. criminal justice system is full of inequity, injustice, and systemic racism. People of color and people from impoverished backgrounds are much more likely to be incarcerated and be given harsher sentences than their white and/or wealthy peers. 


+ Mass incarceration touches us all, in ways you may not have considered. We all have a role to play in untangling this vicious cycle. 


This project is sponsored by: 

The Center for Creative Climate Communication and Behavior Change (C3BC),

the Center for Community Engaged Design and Research (CEDaR)

and in collaboration with:

the Resilient Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RISE) Interdisciplinary Research Theme

and the Climate Incarceration Research Collective (CIRCol)

exhibit bibliography

Alexander, M. (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Press.


Bonds, A. (2019). “Race and Ethnicity I: Property, Race, and the Carceral State.” Progress in Human Geography 43 (3): 574-83.  


Cacho, L. M. (2012) Social Death: Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected. New York University Press.


Camp, J. T. (2016). Incarcerating the Crisis: Freedom Struggles and the Rise of the Neoliberal State. University of California Press.


Cassidy, K., Griffin, P., & Wray, F. (2020). Labour, carcerality and punishment: ‘Less-than-human’ labour landscapes. Progress in Human Geography, 44(6), 1081-1102.


Cowan, K. N., Peterson, M., LeMasters, K., & Brinkley-Rubinstein, L. (2022). Overlapping Crises: Climate Disaster Susceptibility and Incarceration. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(12), 7431.


Davis, A. Y. (2003). Are Prisons Obsolete? Seven Stories Press.

Foucault, M. (1975). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (A. Sheridan, Trans.). Random House, Inc.


Gilmore, R. W. (2022). Abolition Geography: Essays Toward Liberation. Verso. 

Gilmore, R. W. (2007). Golden gulag: Prisons, surplus, crisis, and opposition in globalizing California. University of California Press.


Glade, S., Niles, S., Roudbari, S., Pezzullo, P. C., Dashti, S., Liel, A. B., & Miller, S. L. (2022). Disaster resilience and sustainability of incarceration infrastructures: A review of the literature. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 80, 103190.


Golembeski, C. A., Dong, K., & Irfan, A. (2021). Carceral and Climate Crises and Health Inequities: A Call for Greater Transparency, Accountability, and Human Rights Protections. World Medical & Health Policy, 13(1), 69–96.


Gribble, E. C., & Pellow, D. N. (2022). Climate Change and Incarcerated Populations: Confronting Environmental and Climate Injustices Behind Bars. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 49(2).


Kaba, M. (2021). We Do This ‘til We Free Us: Abolitionist organizing and transforming justice. Haymarket Books.


Levenson, L. L. (2022). Climate Change and the Threat to U.S. Jails and Prisons. Villanova Environmental Law Journal, 33(2).


Loyd, J. M., Mitchelson, M. L., & Burridge, A. (Eds.). (2012). Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis. University of Georgia Press.


McCauley, E., Eckstrand, K., Desta, B., Bouvier, B., Brockmann, B., & Brinkley-Rubinstein, L. (2018). Exploring Healthcare Experiences for Incarcerated Individuals Who Identify as Transgender in a Southern Jail. Transgender Health, 3(1), 34–41.


McGee, J. A., Greiner, P. T., & Appleton, C. (2021). Locked into Emissions: How Mass Incarceration Contributes to Climate Change. Social Currents, 8(4), 326–340.


Motanya, N. C., & Valera, P. (2016). Climate Change and Its Impact on the Incarcerated Population: A Descriptive Review. Social Work in Public Health, 31(5), 348–357.


National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. (2007). Abandoned and abused: Prisoners in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Race & Class, 49(1), 81–92.


Noonan, M. (2016). Mortality in State Prisons, 2001-2014—Statistical Tables (p. 22). U.S. Department of Justice: Bureau of Justice Statistics.


Nowakowski, K. (2013). Landscapes of Toxic Exclusion: Inmate Labour and Electronics Recycling in the United States. In Moran, D., Gill, N., and Conlon, D. (Eds.) Carceral Spaces: Mobility and Agency in Imprisonment and Migrant Detention. Ashgate.


Pellow, D. N. (2021). Struggles for Environmental Justice in US Prisons and Jails. Antipode, 53(1), 56–73.


Pellow, D. N., Austin, M. A., Le, M., McAlpine, S., & Roudebush, A. (2017). Exposing Deliberate Indifference: The Struggle for Social and Environmental Justice in America’s Prisons, Jails, and Concentration Camps. The Prison Environmental Justice Project.


Pellow, D. N., Lake, F. R., Wilson, C. A., & Baker, E. J. (2020). Environmental Justice Struggles in Prisons and Jails Around the World: The 2020 Annual Report of the Prison Environmental Justice Project. The Prison Environmental Justice Project.


Pellow, D. N., Vazin, J., Ashby, H., Austin, M. A., Kime, S., & Mcalpine, S. (2018). Environmental Injustice Behind Bars: Toxic Imprisonment in America. The Prison Environmental Justice Project.


Pellow, D., Vazin, J., Johnson, K., & Austin, M. (2019). Capitalism in Practice: Free Market Influence on Environmental Injustice in America’s Prisons. The Prison Environmental Justice Project.


Prins, S. J., & Story, B. (2020). Connecting the Dots Between Mass Incarceration, Health Inequity, and Climate Change. American Journal of Public Health, 110(51), 535–536.


Purdum, C., Henry, F., Rucker, S., Williams, D. A., Thomas, R., Dixon, B., & Jacobs, F. (2021). No Justice, No Resilience: Prison Abolition As Disaster Mitigation in an Era of Climate Change. Environmental Justice, 14(6), 418–425.


Purdum, J. C., & Meyer, M. A. (2020). Prisoner Labor Throughout the Life Cycle of Disasters. Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, 11(3), 296–319.


Savilonis, M. A. (2013). Prisons and disasters [Northeastern University].


Shabazz, R. (2015). Spatializing blackness: Architectures of confinement and black masculinity in Chicago. University of Illinois Press.


Skarha, J., Dominick, A., Spangler, K., Dosa, D., Rich, J. D., Savitz, D. A., & Zanobetti, A. (2022). Provision of Air Conditioning and Heat-Related Mortality in Texas Prisons. JAMA Network Open, 5(11), e2239849.


Skarha, J., Peterson, M., Rich, J. D., & Dosa, D. (2020). An Overlooked Crisis: Extreme Temperature Exposures in Incarceration Settings. American Journal of Public Health, 110(S1), S41–S42.


Story, B. (2019) Prison Land: Mapping Carceral Power Across Neoliberal America. University of Minnesota Press.


Veit, J. (2018). How Anthropogenic Climate Change Exacerbates Vulnerability in Prison Communities: A Critical Environmental Justice Analysis [Humboldt State University].

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