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Beyond Prisons Podcast: An Abolitionist Focus Is A Feminine Focus Feat. Dr. Venezia Michalsen

Kim Wilson is joined by Dr. Venezia Michalsen for a conversation about her research on women’s experiences with the criminal punishment system on the Beyond Prisons podcast. 

Their conversation, which was recorded in February, touches on how women are impacted differently by the system than men and how criminology has focused on studying men’s experiences. They also discuss the ways that women’s survival strategies are criminalized, white carceral feminism and punishment, and much more. 

Dr. Venezia Michalsen is an American intersectional feminist criminologist whose work focuses on gender and imprisonment and reentry from incarceration. 

Venezia received her B.A. in 1998 from Barnard College and her Ph.D. in Criminal Justice (2007) from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). She was the Director of Analysis and Client Information Systems (ACIS) at the Women’s Prison Association until she began her career as an academic in the Justice Studies Department at Montclair State University (MSU) in 2008. She is currently an Associate Professor of Justice Studies at MSU.

Venezia interrogates the use of incarceration as a response to women’s survival strategies in the face of childhood and adult abuse. She also focuses on women’s experiences of re-entry to the community from prison and jail, and in particular on the role of children in women’s desistance from criminal behavior after incarceration. Her first book, Mothering and Desistance in Re-Entry was published in 2019. 

Always an advocate for women who come in contact with the criminal justice system, Venezia’s more recent work has involved fighting for abolitionist policies in her home state of Connecticut. Venezia is the mother of an eight-year-old autistic boy, and her advocacy work for him and other children in special education has led to the formation of Special Education PTA in her town and she is working to increase police training on interactions with disabled people. In her free time, she loves to ride her bicycle, hike at Sleeping Giant State Park, and lift heavy weights.

Episode Resources & Notes

Mothering and Desistance in Re-Entry, by Venezia Michalsen (Routledge, 2019)

Abolitionist Feminism as Prisons Close: Fighting the Racist and Misogynist Surveillance ‘Child Welfare’ System,” by Venezia Michalsen

The Newest Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander

Downsizing Prisons: How to Reduce Crime and End Mass Incarceration, by Michael Jacobson (NYU Press, 2005)

Motherwork Under the State: The Maternal Labor of Formerly Incarcerated Black Women,” by Susila Gurusami

Taylar Nuevelle and Beyond Prison’s conversation with Taylar Nuevelle on Knitting in Prison

Jail will separate 2.3 million mothers from their children this year,” by Prison Policy

Worth Rises


Created and hosted by Kim Wilson and Brian Sonenstein

Edited by Ellis Maxwell

Website & volunteers managed by Victoria Nam

Theme music by Jared Ware

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Beyond Prisons

Beyond Prisons

Beyond Prisons is a podcast on incarceration and prison abolition that elevates people directly impacted by the system. Hosted by Kim Wilson and Brian Sonenstein.