Born in Seattle, WA. Education: Attended Seattle Central Community College; Western Washington University, Fairhaven College, bachelor's degree; University of Washington School of Law, J.D., 2001.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Routledge, 29 W. Thirty-fifth St., New York, NY 10001.
Lawyer and prison rights activist. Washington Protection and Advocacy System, attorney, 2002—; has also worked as an actor and waitress.
(Editor, with Paul Wright) Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor, Routledge (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor of articles to Prison Legal News and other Seattle-area progressive periodicals.
American attorney and prison rights activist Tara Herivel was introduced to the world of civil rights protest demonstrations by her single mother when she was still a child. Although bright and passionate, according to Silja J. A. Talvi in an article for LawandPolitics.com, young Tara dropped out of high school in the absence of family support and college scholarships. Herivel earned a GED and pursued an acting career. Unable to support herself as an actor, Herivel went to community college and was then accepted into the diversity and law program at Fairhaven College. Uninspired by left-wing "identity politics," she turned her focus to one of society's forgotten groups: prisoners. "The issues are all there: poverty, the treatment of the addicted and the mentally ill, disability, race, gender and class," Herivel told Talvi. Herivel soon took up the cause of another group, the disabled, in her work with the Washington Protection and Advocacy System.
In 2003, with Washington state prisoner and Prison Legal News editor Paul Wright, Herivel edited the anthology Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor, a collection of forty-one previously published essays by prisoners, academics, journalists, and activists. The authors tell of the injustices of the prison system and, as Cheri Register noted in the Ruminator Review, "a larger, still more frightening story with implications beyond prison walls."
In essays by such authors as Noam Chomsky, Mumia Abu Jamal, Judith Green, and Joelle Fraser, the book tells of brutal juvenile boot camps, prison rape, inadequate health care, mental illness, the separation of families, and the lack of rehabilitation. Prison Nation examines racial injustice and exorbitant state spending on prisons. The book explains how major U.S. companies profit from the use of prison labor. It also discusses how the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the war on drugs have contributed to the prison population growing from 300,000 to more than two million in the past twenty years. Prison Nation also offers some remedies for these problems.
Monthly Review contributor Marilyn Buck commented, "What marks this collection as a whole is the first-rate discussion of these brutal circumstances and how these are the logical and normative result of incarceration itself.… What this anthology lacks is sufficient analysis of the historic role of prisons as an integral part of imperialism and white supremacy." Buck concluded, "Prisons are the logical outcome of the country's foundation on the genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans, and the 'manifest destiny' of imperial settlerism—from sea to shining sea."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Library Journal, January, 2003, Frances Sandiford, review of Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor, p. 134.
Monthly Review, February, 2004, Marilyn Buck, "The U.S. Prison State," p. 49.
Ruminator Review, spring, 2003, Cheri Register, "Hellish Light," p. 32.
Routledge Web site,http://www.routledge-ny.com/ (May 28, 2004), "Tara Herivel."*