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We Are Not SlavesState Violence, Coerced Labor, and Prisoners' Rights in Postwar America$
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Robert T. Chase

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653570

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653570.001.0001

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Steel on Steel: The Legacy of Ruiz

(p.389) Epilogue
We Are Not Slaves

Robert T. Chase

University of North Carolina Press

The epilogue reflects on what happened to the prisoners who brought civil suits to Texas and frames the legal and political legacy of Ruiz within the current political moment of national prison strikes and the ongoing struggle over mass incarceration. The chapter considers Ruiz’s legacy through the lens of the Tennessee prison hostage crisis of 1985 as well as ongoing contemporary prisoner politicization over mass incarceration. It considers the development of the Prison Litigation Reform Act as part of carceral federalism’s effort to overturn judicial intervention in favor a return to state’s rights and control of its prison systems. It concludes with an analysis the country’s first national prison strikes of 2016 and 2018 as critical moments tied to Ruiz and the case’s political legacy.

Keywords:   National prison labor strike, Prison Litigation Reform Act, Tennessee Hostage Crisis, Ruiz litigants

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