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Since 2010, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has closed nine state prisons for adults. For the prison towns that dot diversely rural and urban places of New York —each uniquely tied to the maintenance of mass incarceration— the closure of a state prison marks the end of an infusion of state capital constructed and construed quite explicitly as projects of economic development in the 1980's. After decades of growing corrections budgets and expanding prisons across the United States, why is New York closing prisons now? Tracing the history of prison growth and urban governance in prison towns, I posit that the closure of prisons indicates a shift, but not a shrinkage of the carceral state, marking new modes of punishment and strengthening others in an age of increasing austerity.


This work was originally published in North American Dialogue, available at doi:10.1111/j.1556-4819.2012.01052.x



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