The Soundscape of American Hyperincarceration

Dr. Andrew McGraw (University of Richmond) situates the Richmond, Virginia city jail within the highly racialized context of contemporary American hyperincarceration and describes the ways in which the sounds of suffering were muted in the transition from the old city jail to a new, “cutting edge” facility in 2014. McGraw discusses the music that residents have produced in both facilities and concludes by arguing that the contemporary jail is only one component of several interlocking structures that sonically segregates Richmond’s majority African American population from its minority Anglo-American population. Studying carceral soundscapes represents a political intervention by bringing into the public auditorium the sounds of suffering that have been muted both within and without penal institutions.