Beyond Mass Incarceration: New Horizons of Liberation and Freedom

To be published in January 2019
Guest editors Ofelia Ortiz Cuevas and Carlos Francisco Jackson

Full submissions will be accepted through June 1, 2018 via our Open Journal Systems (OJS) submissions portal. Technical information regarding registration and submission to OJS is available on that page.

If it is necessary to submit in hard copy, please send submissions to the Journal’s physical address, which can be found on our contact page.

Public is a peer-reviewed, multimedia e-journal focused on humanities, arts, and design in public life. It aspires to connect what we can imagine with what we can do.

The United States has come to be known as the largest jailer on the planet. In a matter of 4 decades the country has increased its prison population 500% through an over investment and reliance on state security systems in the form of policing, court systems, and prisons. With more than two million people in jails, prisons and detention centers and five million on parole or probation, huge numbers are dispossessed from family, work, educational opportunity and community through mass imprisonment. Over 60% of this population are Black and Brown men, women and children revealing an exercise of racism that replicates past practices of control, containment and management such as the creation of Native American reservations and enclosures, the plantation, Japanese internment, and the policing and repatriating of Mexican origin peoples in the 1930s. Presently the population under criminal justice control has been relegated to a status of rightless, stateless being.  It is a practice and phenomenon that has changed the (human) geography of the country and negated the future and freedom of millions of people in the US, calling into question the very ideals of democracy that the US champions.Yet through this political, economic, and social negation of future and freedom, generations of incarcerated people — especially from disproportionately incarcerated social groups – have created spaces to collectively and individually resist the unfreedom of mass incarceration, to rebuild opportunity and hope, and to create new horizon lines to liberation and justice.

This issue of PUBLIC seeks to advance the publicly engaged conversation around these “spaces,” whether they are physical, legal, and/or political; discursive and/or activist, highly public or intimately private.  PUBLIC seeks work from prisoners, academics, organizers, the formerly incarcerated and their aligned kin, and the broader community that builds upon and advances movement work, investigative research, and theoretical work on contemporary prison and jail studies, and that, in particular, adds depth and knowledge to statistical information and rhetorical strategies.

We invite contributors to discuss the impact of projects that embody “digital engagements,” moving beyond description to the value, limitations, and potential impact of projects and practices. To suggest a few of the innumerable questions the issue might address– How can technologies activate diverse audiences, muster and support communities, and promote democratic practices? What new forms of collaboration are emerging in digital work? When does technology inhibit, change, or inspire cross sector partnerships–including campus/community partnerships–and how are artists, designers, and scholars tackling those obstacles? How are people from rural areas, inner cities, and developing regions participating in digital arts and humanities projects? How are artists, activists, scholars, designers, and developers overcoming social, economic, and technical obstacles? We also welcome projects focused on innovative research methods, syllabi, assignments, et cetera, at any level and proposals for reviews of studies, sites, art works or installations, conferences, blogs, etc. More generally, how do the resources and limits of virtuality change the assumptions and practices of artists, designers, and humanists?


Through the frameworks of the humanities, arts, and design; authored individually or in collaboration; and via the multiple publication styles and forms of media that PUBLIC supports; submissions must be directed toward one of our three non-editorial sections:

Principles and Practices: Critical pieces that foreground new ideas and provide examples of how they play out in practice.

Resources and Case Studies: Specific, replicable instances of effective and/or inspiring projects, programs, or teaching. May be as modest as a single assignment or syllabus, or as large as a multi-year, cross-sector, cross-disciplinary endeavor.

Reviews: Critical reflection of performances, books, websites, exhibitions, films, etc. (Note that acceptance of reviews is an editorial decision; these submissions are not peer-reviewed.)

Submissions can take diverse forms as long as they are linked to the central problematic of the issue. For example, discussions of principles and practices might be critical pieces in multiple media, single or collaboratively authored, narrative or interview format. Reflective case studies might link to online projects that ask what “engagement” means practically and philosophically in existing projects. Feel free to propose experimental or collaborative formats that capture your work most vividly. We can accept a wide variety of formats for consideration; if you have any questions, please contact the guest and design editors.

Submission Process

Full submissions will be accepted between April 1, 2018 and June 1, 2018 via our Open Journal Systems (OJS) submissions portal. Technical information regarding registration and submission to OJS is available on that page.

The guest editor and design editors will work with contributors of accepted submissions through a process of revision and digital design in preparation for publication.

Contact guest editor Ofelia Ortiz Cuevas ( if you have any questions.

Journal Information

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