Resistance, Repression and Resilience:
The Evolution and Disappearance of Prisoners’ Rights Movements
While resisting the constraints of confinement is as old as the prison itself, this paper will examine the prisoners’ rights movements which emerged in a number of European and US jurisdictions throughout the 1970s. It will investigate how prisoners organised in such difficult conditions and consider how their resistance manifested itself through a variety of different forms, political and non-political. It will analyse why prisoners’ rights movements faded away, not just as organisations, but also from narratives around social movements and accounts of penal history. Finally, it will argue that there is a need to excavate the history of these movements in order, not just to provide a more comprehensive analysis of the penal experience during this period, but also to understand the relative lack of prison organising in the 21st century.