On SAGE Insight: Are We Really Colour-blind? The Normalization of Mass Female Incarceration

From Race and Justice

The sharp rise in female incarceration rates in both the United States and New Zealand has received increased attention. Even more pressing are the racial disparities among imprisoned females. It has been well established that the disproportionate imprisonment of African Americans and Latinos led to the United States being the most punitive nation in the world. The study examined the presence of colour-blindness in discussions of female imprison in New Zealand. The analysis revealed that race/ethnicity was largely subsumed within the broader category of women. The lack of attention devoted to explanations accounting for large racial disparities is problematic and is reflective of colour-blindness. Just as the United States and New Zealand have different histories; it is imperative that researchers understand the different manifestations of colour-blindness across different social contexts. This understanding is of extreme importance in understanding unequal experiences of criminalization and imprisonment. In this respect, as research on female imprisonment expands, it is essential that gender is understood within the context of intersecting domains of inequality such as race/ethnicity, class, sexuality and age. This study argues that if colour blindness goes unchecked, interventions designed to mitigate mass imprisonment could potentially reproduce similar racial/ethnic hierarchies as past colonial practices.
break

Abstract

he sharp rise in female incarceration rates in both the United States and New Zealand has received increased attention. Even more pressing are the racial disparities among imprisoned females. This exploratory case study examines 13 peer-reviewed articles published between 2005 and 2016 to understand the nature of colour-blind ideology in discussions of female imprisonment in New Zealand. Several themes emerged including the homogenisation of female prisoners. Apart from moderately linking vast racial disparities between incarcerated White women and Indigenous women to ill-defined colonial practices, contemporary explanations for the substantial racial disparities receive little attention. This article concludes that the absence of a critical lens toward contemporary forms and experiences of racism undergirding the mass criminalisation of Indigenous people perpetuates a colour blindness that in turn works to normalise mass female incarceration. Even in attempts to be unbiased, the way race/ethnicity, gender, age, and class are discussed in academic research exploring female incarceration seems to reflect the influential nature of controlling images rather than critique them.

Read this article for free

Article details
Are We Really Colour-blind? The Normalisation of Mass Female Incarceration
Adele N. Norris
First Published July 13, 2017
From Race and Justice
DOI: 10.1177/2153368717718028

 

     
This entry was posted in Criminology & Criminal Justice, Gender & Sexuality, SAGE Insight and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply