Understanding E-Carceration

Electronic Monitoring, the Surveillance State, and the Future of Mass Incarceration

A riveting primer on the growing trend of surveillance, monitoring, and control that is extending our prison system beyond physical walls and into a dark future—by the prize-winning author of Understanding Mass Incarceration

“James Kilgore is one of my favorite commentators regarding the phenomenon of mass incarceration and the necessity of pursuing truly transformative change.”
—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow

In the last decade, as the critique of mass incarceration has grown more powerful, many reformers have embraced changes that release people from prisons and jails. As educator, author, and activist James Kilgore brilliantly shows, these rapidly spreading reforms largely fall under the heading of “e-carceration”—a range of punitive technological interventions, from ankle monitors to facial recognition apps, that deprive people of their liberty, all in the name of ending mass incarceration.

E-carceration can block people’s access to employment, housing, healthcare, and even the chance to spend time with loved ones. Many of these technologies gather data that lands in corporate and government databases and may lead to further punishment or the marketing of their data to Big Tech.

This riveting primer on the world of techno-punishment comes from the author of award–winning Understanding Mass Incarceration. Himself a survivor of prison and e-carceration, Kilgore captures the breadth and complexity of these technologies and offers inspiring ideas on how to resist.


“Kilgore presents a devastating critique of policy tools like electronic monitoring that masquerade as meaningful alternatives to incarceration but offer little hope for a more just and humane future. There is a more promising way forward and this necessary and insightful book helps us to see the path more clearly.”
—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
“When I introduced the term e-carceration in 2015, I never imagined the extent to which technology would expand mass incarceration. James Kilgore did. This book offers a re-imagined future for civil rights and abolition in a digital age.”
—Malkia Devich-Cyril, founding director of the Center for Media Justice
“Uncovers the truth behind the digital smokescreen, revealing how the intimate details of people’s lives are devoured, digested, and used to deepen social control in the name of public safety and prison reform.”
—Ruha Benjamin, professor of African American studies at Princeton University and founding director of the IDA B. WELLS Just Data Lab
“An incisive, thoroughly researched, and utterly frightening investigation into how technology, posing as reform, is expanding our prison nation into systems of hybrid punishment.”
—Victoria Law, author of Prison by Any Other Name and “Prisons Make us Safer”: And 20 Other Myths about Mass Incarceration
“Kilgore’s straightforward prose and clear explanations expose the police state’s relentless expansion into every corner of vulnerable lives. Who pays? Who benefits? Read this book.”
—Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Change Everything and Golden Gulag
“Essential reading. A powerful precautionary tale about how big data and technology can undermine the kind of society we want to build.”
—Elizabeth Hinton, author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime and America on Fire
“Kilgore warns us that the surveillance state is forever upgrading tech to expand its reach. He carefully explains the harms of carceral technology and invites us to work for an abolitionist future.”
—Naomi Murakawa, associate professor of African American studies at Princeton University

News and Reviews

Haymarket Books

Watch a video of author James Kilgore discussing Understanding E-Carceration with Ruth Wilson Gilmore in an event hosted by Harmarket Books.

Ava DuVernay’s 13th Features New Press Authors

We are very proud that Ava DuVernay’s Academy Awardnominated documentary 13th features six New Press authors and their books—Miche

Books by James Kilgore

Understanding Mass Incarceration
A People’s Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time

James Kilgore

Goodreads Reviews