“Criminal Justice Systems in Children’s Literature and Media”: A Children’s Literature Association Quarterly Special Issue

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Ramona Caponegro
contact email: 

2020 marks the tenth anniversary of Michelle Alexander’s groundbreaking work, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, which brought unprecedented attention to the ongoing discrimination present in the United States’ criminal justice system and its many devastating effects. Numerous studies have also documented the ways in which children and young adults are impacted by the criminal justice system, whether they are in it themselves, have a family member in it, or are living with the expectation of entering it in the future. This special issue will examine the responses of children’s literature and media, both contemporary and historical, to existing criminal justice systems in the United States and other countries and the representations of these systems in works for young people.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Representations of race, gender, socioeconomic class, physical abilities, and neurodiversity in works with incarcerated characters

  • Changing ideas around concepts of childhood, criminality, and juvenile delinquency, particularly within and across different cultures and nations

  • Ideologies of punishment and rehabilitation

  • Depictions of trials, prisons, and authority figures within legal systems

  • Portrayals of political prisoners and the wrongfully incarcerated

  • (Re)examinations of laws and legal policies, such as the “three strikes” law

    and the War on Drugs

  • Presentations of post-incarceration life and the effects of incarceration, both

    on individuals and communities

  • Instructional manuals for children with an incarcerated relative

  • Experiences teaching children’s and young adult literature in juvenile

    detention centers and prisons

    Papers should conform to the usual style of the ChLAQ and be between 5,000 and 6,000 words in length. Please send questions and completed essays to Ramona Caponegro (rcaponeg@emich.edu) with “ChLAQ Essay” in the subject line. Essays must be submitted by November 1, 2020, and the selected essays will appear in the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 46.4 (Winter 2021) issue. High-quality submissions that are not included in the special issue can be considered for future issues of the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly.