We Are Not Slaves provides the most thorough and sophisticated look at the Texas prison system of the twentieth century. Robert Chase blends legal and social history, together with sociology and ethnic and gender studies, to place incarcerated people at the center of the tremendous, if bleak, transformations of the state's prisons from plantation barbarism to high-tech isolation. Chase makes great use of the dozens of oral histories he completed with key but unheralded participants, as well as his expert readings of a bevy of lawsuits and shifts in the structure of confinement. From sexual violence and coerced labor to work strikes and lawsuits, from the “massive resistance” authorities displayed to respecting the human rights of incarcerated people to the internecine violence among prisoners, We Are Not Slaves chronicles the daily rhythms of this carceral capital with chilling insight.

This deep dive into the Lone Star carceral regime is a...

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