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Julie Bilotta, Prison-Based Inhumanity, Institutionalized Misogyny, Reproductive Injustice, Systematic Gendered Harms, Feminist Advocacy


Julie Bilotta’s contribution to this special volume is a straightforward denunciation of prison-based inhumanity and institutionalized misogyny. I write to show solidarity with her and to alert the reader to some of the ways her story exposes intersectional injustice while enlivening feminist abolitionist prison resistance. I write, too, to challenge my own and others’ thinking about whether or how law (litigation, law reform) might contribute to that resistance.

In her essay, Julie offers an intimate glimpse of prisons as sites of reproductive injustice. As this special volume attests, incarceration in Canada and elsewhere produces systematic gendered harms, including lack of access to contraception, abortion and other reproductive health care; coerced sterilization; infant apprehension; and repeated and sustained rupturing of family relationships (Paynter et al., 2022; Evans, 2021). While there is a dearth of disaggregated data, the demographics of incarceration and patterns of securitization within prisons suggest that in Canada these harms fall disproportionately on Indigenous and Black women (Wortley, 2021). Julie describes actions and inaction of jail staff in response to her experience of labour and childbirth that illustrate just how radically the paramilitary ethos of prisons and jails alienates those in authority from their humanity and substitutes punishing logics of risk and securitization. In Julie’s case this produced world-destroying pain, grief, and rage. It also opened new possibilities for feminist solidarity and advocacy.