‘Left Backs Working Prisons’
Crosspartisan Production of Criminal ‘Nonpublics’
Keywords:Incarceration, working prisons, prison reform, decolonisation
During the 2014 General Election campaign, reactions to a National Party announcement about ‘working prisons’ emphasised cross-partisan enthusiasm for incarceration. This cross-partisan support extends not only across the parliamentary ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ but also to liberal NGOs such as JustSpeak and academics working in the area. While some liberal reformers sincerely consider prison labour to be a form of rehabilitation rather than punishment, there is no a priori reason why rehabilitation should involve the deprivation of citizenship rights, such as the right to a minimum wage. The assumption that labour-power can be used in this way points to how inmates are made into a ‘nonpublic’. A nonpublic is a disavowed population that doesn’t necessarily emerge with an organised claim on recognition.