Confronting Criminalization, Confinement, and Control


The Carceral State Project (CSP) is an interdisciplinary collaboration designed to bring impacted communities and advocacy organizations together with researchers from the University of Michigan. Our mission is to document and challenge the historical and contemporary processes of criminalization, policing, incarceration, immigrant detention, and other forms of carceral control in the state of Michigan and beyond.

The Carceral State Project’s overall research program, Documenting Criminalization, Confinement, and Resistance (DCCR), consists of publications and other storytelling products in six main thematic areas:

The Carceral State Project’s agenda is to chronicle and challenge the policies and discourses that have propelled criminalization and incarceration, especially in racially and economically vulnerable communities, and to document diverse forms of resistance to the carceral state. (For more on how we define the carceral state, please see the main Research Projects page). We seek to historicize contemporary systems of criminalization and confinement, chronicle the voices of those most directly impacted, provide resources to public and academic audiences, inform policymakers and journalists, foster community partnerships, promote inclusive methodologies and abolitionist frameworks, and preserve records of the impact of racialized criminalization and mass incarceration for future generations.

The Carceral State Project began in 2016 and launched the first phase of its research program, originally titled Documenting Criminalization and Confinement, with grant funding from the Humanities Collaboratory from 2019-2022. The current phase of our Documenting Criminalization, Confinement, and Resistance research program has been funded with a major grant from the College of LSA’s Meet the Moment initiative, running from 2022-2027.

The Carceral State Project’s research initiatives have involved more than a dozen research teams and more than 300 faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, staff, and community members so far. The main teams in the current Documenting Criminalization, Confinement, and Resistance project are:

CSP Research Teams

“The struggle for freedom is a struggle not just against cages, but against a society that could have cages. Let us look everywhere, so that we can act anywhere.”

— Brett Story, Prison Land: Mapping Carceral Power across Neoliberal America (2019)

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