This is My Jail: A Conversation with Melanie D. Newport

This is My Jail: A Conversation with Melanie D. Newport

In this episode, Hettie V. Williams discusses jailing and mass incarceration with Dr. Melanie D. Newport. Williams is Associate Professor of African American History at Monmouth University and Newport is an Assistant Professor of history at the University of Connecticut and the author of This is My Jail: Local Politics and the Rise of Mass Incarceration (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022). This conversation is structured mainly around Newport’s recently published book on jailing with a focus on the Cook County Jail in Chicago. In this text, Newport argues that jailing has been central to the mass incarceration project in the modern history of the United States. She links jailing to local politics and, also, community activism. Newport contends that there is a longer history of mass incarceration connected to racialized “politically repressive” jailing. She includes in this history a discussion of a host of historical actors key to this history such as wardens, correction officers, sheriffs, jailed people themselves and the network of community activists who sought to reform and imagine “their jail.” This is a groundbreaking work in the ever-expanding history of the carceral state. 

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