A Prison Education Counternarrative: “Mock Citizenship” in a Women’s Prison

Sultana Shabazz, Brian Sohn, Melissa Harness, Brittany Aronson


In this article, we develop a perspective on the purposes and possibilities of education in prison through the stories of the first author, a prison educator and critical pedagogue. In the context of today’s prisons, we complicate universalist notions of citizenship by weaving theories of citizenship into the story of education. We share the daily concerns of a prison educator and explore the transformative possibilities that women convict students try on. We question how to shape educational practices in prison and contemplate the construction of a new “mock citizenship” informed by the realities of felony disenfranchisement. Our hope is to bring to the conversation something that has been lacking when discussions of incarceration occur: insight into the ways incarcerated students perform the role of citizen and how the purpose of prison education must extend beyond job readiness toward the creation of full citizens able to participate in the democratic process.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/jecs.v3n4p439


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