chapter  8
No data, no change: bringing prisons out of hiding
Pages 7

Thomas Mathiesen analyzes decades of his own field notes from work as a prison abolitionist. Mathiesen's analysis focuses on cycles of revolution, reform, and retrenchment in Scandinavian prisons. He explores the role of information gathering as a potential tool of both reformist and non-reformist advocates for change. Although focused on Scandinavia, Mathiesen's analysis has important implications for the US prison system, especially for understanding the complicated role of information in movements for both abolishing reforms and refining reforms. The geographic, political, and empirical invisibilities make comparing data and statistics across jurisdictions difficult; everything from basic terminology to legal structures varies across jurisdictions. Demands for greater transparency are the first steps not just to reform, but to revolutionary change. Transparency, through the systematic collection and evaluation of data about how prisons operate, will allow citizens, legislators, and judges alike to re-consider and re-evaluate existing prison policies.