Essay on Information Access

My essay on information access in carceral institutions is now available online through Feminist Media Studies. Here’s the abstract:

Policing and incarceration are feminist issues that stand to be interrogated through examinations of carceral practices. This essay positions the management and withholding of information and the observation of communications as instances of carceral specific practices that shape possibilities for incarcerated people and their communities. The author draws from their experience as a librarian in carceral facilities to outline how State-enacted violence occurs through the regulation and management of information access. As carceral facilities utilize third-party ICT providers, it is difficult to ascertain what information is or is not available. The introduction of new and evolving ICTs has led to increased opportunities for the State to monitor people who are incarcerated and their communities, positioning incarcerated people and their networks not only as sources of information but as data to train technologies of policing and surveillance. Instances of resistance to these practices reveal some ways that people who are not incarcerated can act in solidarity with people who are incarcerated and people who are subject to State surveillance.

You can access the full essay at

Austin, J. (2020). Information access within carceral institutions. Feminist Media Studies. DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2020.1786933

Tracking COVID 19 in Jails and Prisons

Covid-19 Behind Bars is an independent investigative effort to track reports of COVID-19 inside of jails and prisons.  It utilizes information from published sources alongside self-reports from people inside to map the spread of COVID-19 in carceral institutions.

Here is the map of North America as of 4/2/2020.  Blue pins are published reports, orange pins are self-reports of cases inside.


More information about the project is available at


Publications on Jail and Prison Libraries, 1992-Present

I have been conducting a literature review of publication on American jail and prison libraries as a follow-up to the timeline of library services to incarcerated people.  The list below, while potentially not comprehensive, includes publications on this topic from 1992 through the present.

About the list: I prioritized peer-reviewed articles while assembling this list, but did include a few instances of more popular texts.  Two special issues on this topic appeared in the time frame examined (a special issue of Education Librarian in 2000 and a special issue of Library Trends on Library and Information Services to Incarcerated Persons: Global Perspectives in 2011).  The list also includes books, briefs, and chapters, all marked with an *.  All items are listed in chronological order.  (Please note: this list does not contain publications on library services in juvenile detention centers or publications that are primarily personal accounts written by librarians in jails and prisons.)

Please feel free to contact me if you notice there is something I’ve missed!

Continue reading “Publications on Jail and Prison Libraries, 1992-Present”

Timeline of Library Services to Incarcerated People

Note: Please see the revised timeline in my chapter on Carceral Histories in the United States.

Timeline image

I’ve created a timeline of library services to incarcerated people beginning with the first library committee on the topic that I could locate (1911) through the creation of ALA’s most recent version of the standards for service to correctional institutions (1992).  You can access the work in progress at

Library Services to Incarcerated People_ 1911-1992