The Fairlea Wring Outs: Confronting the Prison Wall

  • Bree CarltonEmail author
  • Emma K. Russell


This chapter analyses a series of large-scale protests initially conceived and organised by the Coalition Against Women’s Imprisonment in Melbourne in 1988, which was spearheaded by Women Against Prison. The ‘Wring Out Fairlea’ demonstrations mobilised hundreds of people on four separate occasions to completely encircle Fairlea Women’s Prison as an abolitionist action. Protesters made creative use of visuals, space and sound to facilitate connections and dialogue across the carceral boundary and increase public scrutiny of the prison. Through radio broadcasting, live music and spontaneous noise, and enabling opportunities for ‘mutual sightings’ between imprisoned and non-imprisoned activists, the Wring Outs challenged the dominant ordering of carceral space. Designed to segregate, invisibilise, silence and quarantine prisoners, the prison boundary was appropriated and repurposed by activists on both sides of the wall as an interface for collaborative and performative protest. The Wring Outs also allowed feminists and other activists to negotiate new ways of seeing the prison. By placing Fairlea Women’s Prison at the centre of collective political activity and the life of the social movement, the protests dramatically challenged and subverted the traditional location of the women’s prison at the margins.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Criminology, School of Humanities and Social SciencesDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Crime, Justice and Legal Studies, School of Humanities and Social SciencesLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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