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  • Priscilla A. Ocen (a1)

In this essay, I call for an “unshackling” of intersectionality from the narrow and restrictive ways in which legal scholars and activists interpret and mobilize the theory and critique the single-axis framework that has been deployed by legal scholars and advocates in the context of mass incarceration. Specifically, I assert that a single-axis analysis of mass incarceration is insufficient to capture the broad impact of the prison and the raced and gendered logics that animate its operation. As a consequence of the failure to engage intersectionality in the context of the prison, legal scholarship on incarceration tends to obscure the centrality of Black women's gender in the racialized system of control and posits Black men as the primary targets of mass incarceration. This undertheorization of incarceration also hinders the development of a framework that can account for why both Black women and Black men are vulnerable to multiple systems of social control.

Corresponding author
Priscilla A. Ocen, Loyola Law School, 919 Albany Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015. E-mail:
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