Gender, Ethnicity, and the State

Latina and Latino Prison Politics

By Juanita Diaz-Cotto

Subjects: Social Organization
Series: SUNY series in New Directions in Crime and Justice Studies
Paperback : 9780791428160, 480 pages, April 1996
Hardcover : 9780791428153, 480 pages, April 1996

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Table of contents

List of Tables



1. Introduction

Part I. Challenging Custodial Hegemony

2. Litigation, Rebellions, Reprisals, and Reforms

3. The Attica Prison Rebellion and the Latina(o) Community Inside and Outside the Walls

Part II. Latino Prisoners: Green Haven Correctional Facility

4. Latino Prisoners and the Institutional Context for Reforms

5. Latino Prisoner Participation in Informal Groups and Networks

6. Political Underground Prisoner Groups and Coalitions

7. Latino Prisoner Groups, Penal Personnel, and Third Parties

8. Latino Prisoners Regroup, DOCS Reevaluates

Part III. Latina Prisoners: Bedford Hills Correctional Facility

9. Latina Prisoners and the Institutional Context

10. Latina Participation in Informal Groups and Networks and the Formation of Formal Prisoner Groups

11. Litigation, Third Party Support, and Prisoner Politicization

12. Liberalization: The Other Side of Security, Bedford Hills 1982-1987

13. Conclusion: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Appendix A: Latinas(os) and Criminal Justice Statistics

Appendix B: Tables

Appendix C: Relevant Court Cases

Appendix D: The Folsom Prisoners' Manifesto of Demands and Anti-Oppression Platform

Appendix E: Observers' Proposals (Based on the Attica Prisoners' Demands)

Appendix F: Latino Prisoner Organizations

About the Author


Examines the experiences of Latina and Latino prisoners in New York maximum security prisons, offering a realistic interpretation of the relationship that exists between prisoners, the state, and the civil society within which prisons operate.


Gender, Ethnicity, and the State is a study of Latina and Latino prisoners in New York State. Through the use of two case studies, it compares the organizing strategies for reform pursued by Latina and Latino prisoners between 1970 and 1987, the support they received from non-Latina(o) prisoners and third parties, and the response of penal personnel to their calls for support. The work also contains information on Latino prisoner participation and community response to both the 1971 Attica Rebellion and the 1970 New York City jail rebellions.

The data for this study was compiled through a combination of primary and secondary sources. Primary sources include in-depth interviews and oral histories conducted with Latina(o) and African-American ex-prisoners, prisoners' rights attorneys, community activists, and penal staff. Other primary sources include prisoner and mainstream English and Spanish language newspapers; prisoners' rights newsletters; court cases; and government and private organizational reports.

Juanita Diaz-Cotto is Assistant Professor of Sociology, Women's Studies, and Latin American Studies at the State University of New York at Binghamton. She is also the editor (under the pseudonym of Juanita Ramos) of Companeras: Latina Lesbians (An Anthology).


"This study is unique in its attention to the interaction of gender and ethnicity in prisoner organizing and prison management. Based largely on interviews with Puerto Rican ex-inmates and with corrections personnel, this book is a straightforward, critical analysis of the history and basis of discriminatory treatment of Hispanic prisoners in the New York State penal system. Latinas, a relatively small inmate population, received much less third-party support and benefited less from policy divisions among corrections officials and political elites. " — Austin Turk, University of California, Riverside