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Abby Cunniff

Abby Cunniff is a PhD student in Environmental Studies at University of California Santa Cruz.

Judah Schept’s Coal, Cages, Crisis

A crumbling strip of asphalt winds through the craggy countryside of eastern Kentucky, striated with power lines sagging in every direction. Wobbly pavement markings and errant skidmarks vanish at a hairpin bend buffered by low guard rails framing a rolling, sparsely tree-spotted expanse of hills. On one side of this road stands a roughly chiseled open coal seam, marking the remnants of a former mine. On the other, a bowed chain link fence capped in razor-wire announces the outer periphery of Otter Creek Correctional Facility. This remarkable image by photographer Jill Frank adorns the jacket of prison scholar Judah Schept’s Coal, Cages, Crisis (New York: NYU Press, 2022), confronting the reader with the book’s central preoccupations.

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The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2022

All Issues