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Beyond Prisons – Episode 6: Mothering Under Surveillance feat. Maya Schenwar

In episode 6 of Beyond Prisons, Brian Sonenstein and Kim Wilson speak with Maya Schenwar about her book, “Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better.”

Maya discusses her experience living a “dual reality” as a journalist covering incarceration and as someone with a sibling who has been incarcerated multiple times while struggling with addiction.

She shares her thoughts on the detachment common among journalists who cover the justice system and how their relationships with law enforcement are accepted as standard. “The view from nowhere is a view from power,” she said.

She also talks about the importance of pen-palling with incarcerated people and how it has shaped her work and knowledge of the issue.

We talk about the struggles facing incarcerated mothers and pregnant women—from the various ways they are forced into the prison system to their experiences finding basic, humane medical treatment behind bars and the harm of separating families.

In this emotional interview, we hear from Maya about her sister’s struggle and how her family has been impacted by this experience. If you have read the book, you’ll want to tune in because Maya shares what has happened since it was published.

“When you break up particularly a mother and her newborn child, you are saying this person should not be reconnected with society, this person should be isolated, and separated, and shamed, and disposed of,” Maya said.

Finally, she tells us what abolition means to her.

Maya is the Editor-in-Chief of Truthout and the co-editor of “Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States.” She has written about the prison-industrial complex for Truthout, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation, Salon, Ms. Magazine, and others. Maya lives in Chicago and organizes with Love & Protect and the Chicago Community Bond Fund.

Get your copy of “Locked Down, Locked Out.”
Read Maya Schenwar’s work at Truthout: www.truthout.org

Visit Maya’s personal website: mayaschenwar.com

Follow Maya on Twitter: @mayaschenwar


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Music & Production: Jared Ware

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Brian Sonenstein

Brian Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.