Resource Author

Carceral Feminism

A disturbing trend in mainstream feminist circles is the constant reliance on criminalization and legislation as “solutions” to gender-based violence. The carceral feminist framework that advocates for state-sanctioned punishment and other punitive responses is thriving despite strong critique of approaches that promote arrest and incarceration rather than investment in communities.

Transformative justice work takes a very different approach to responding to and ending violence, seeking to transform the lives of those who cause harm and those who are harmed, while also transforming the cultural values that allow such harm to take place. Important transformative justice work is happening throughout Chicago, yet transformative justice ideals largely have not taken hold within feminist conversations in Chicago. The recent closing of the Young Women’s Empowerment Project (YWEP) is a stark warning of the harm carceral feminisms cause, and the need to ground feminist work in transformative justice ideals.

Shifting from Carceral to Transformative Justice Feminisms” is a daylong conference that seeks to energize a different kind of conversation in Chicago. The purpose of this event is to shift the feminist carceral framework to a transformative justice one. We will take up earlier work and conversations that occurred at the 2009 Paving New Roads: Engaging Communities in Resisting Violence conference, the 2009 Transformative Justice Teach-in, the 2011 Transformative Justice Gathering at UIC and at other gatherings that took place even earlier.

Through case studies and workshops, we will examine where people have pushed for a transformative justice analysis to interrupt carceral feminisms and what lessons we can use from these efforts going forward. We will develop concrete action plans to disrupt collusion with state violence, and to build community accountability and transformative justice practices to end gender-based violence.

This gathering was organized by Mariame Kaba, Deana Lewis, Chez Rumpf and Ann Russo. It was sponsored by Project NIA and Building Communities, Ending Violence (Depaul University)

We are using this site to catalogue information and resources from the gathering. In addition, we will continue to add new information and resources over time.