Episode

2/17 “E-Carceration” Trapping Prisoners w/ James Kilgore

February 17, 2022

Emma hosts James Kilgore, Research Scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of Illinois, to discuss his recent book Understanding E-Carceration: Electronic Monitoring, the Surveillance State, and the Future of Mass Incarceration, on the technological advancements in the surveillance state at the hands of unregulated big tech, and the role the state and its neoliberal practices play in that. James begins by walking Emma through his personal experiences with the surveillance state, living as a federal fugitive from the US for 27 years while working for social justice and liberation movements in South Africa and Zimbabwe, before his eventual extradition in 2002 for federal possession of explosive charges stemming from the ‘70s, where he then spent over 6 years in prison, and lived with an ankle monitor tracking his every movement in his later house arrest. This brings us to James’ inspiration to start his research, as he began to explore the regulations on deployment and information extraction, as well as the breakdown of who it is used on, and how it cycles people back through the prison pipeline. He and Emma then take on neoliberalism’s transition to data as the new raw material for making money, allowing for incredible specificity when it comes to the state’s deployment of bio-power, and the role of deregulated big tech in developing and disseminating this surveillance throughout society, garnering just massive swaths of data on citizens worldwide with absolutely no accountability for where it goes. After touching on the mythology of technology and its development over the last two decades, painting a picture of technocratic development that works outside of human biases despite all data suggesting it is deeply ingrained within these systems of prejudice, they look to the sanitization of the US prison system, presenting e-surveillance as an alternative TO, rather than an alternative form OF, incarceration, before James emphasizes the role of US policymakers in actively funding contracts and work with and by these surveillance tech agencies. They wrap up the interview by diving into the global impact of these investments by US officials, looking at how electronic tech adds to the already insanely brutal surveillance of Palestinians, deeply expressing the nature and goal of these systems of control and dominance. Working off of this, Emma also covers the recent revelations on the horrors taking place on an Amazon-owned deportation plane service, before she runs through the positive outlook on the upcoming PA Senate race and John Fetterman’s progressive candidacy.

And in the Fun Half: Emma is joined by Matt and Brandon as they remember the Cosby show, Amber from Northern VA dives into her state’s general assembly, and Binder finds the elusive Charlie Kirk’s original Twitter account, managed by him, of his all-white basketball team, and the incredible boost it gave to his AAU stock! They also dive into the Canadian trucker convoy, walking through Dave Rubin’s identification with “both sides” of the Holocaust, misinformation and how it led to Ilhan Omar’s recent comments, and Nick from Manitoba calls in for a bit of a Canadian perspective. Brandon from TX dives into states across the country trying to manipulate the defund movement that never occurred to boost police funding and Kowalski gives his own updates, plus, your calls and IMs!

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