Prison abolition lies at the intersection of struggles against colonialism, imperialism, racism, transphobia, heterosexism, patriarchy, rape culture, ableism, political repression, capitalism, structural poverty, state violence, state terrorism, and state monopoly justice.
Yet even on the radical left and within libertarianism, the two political groups that should be most amenable to prison abolition, prison abolitionist ideas are rarely understood. Here are some resources on prison abolition:
Critical Resistance http://criticalresistance.org/
INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence http://www.incite-national.org/
Dean Spade on “Crime and Punishment” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ia5vuHdBtz4
Ruth Wilson Gilmore “Don’t Reform Prisons, Abolish Them” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akirVY5Mqsg
The Anarchist Black Cross http://www.abcf.net/
The Audre Lorde Project’s Safe OUTside the System Collective http://alp.org/community/sos
Victoria Law’s “Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women” http://resistancebehindbars.org/
"Prisons Will Not Protect You", an anthology by the radical LGBTQ group "Against Equality" http://www.againstequality.org/stuff/against-equality-prisons-will-not-protect-you/
"Alternatives to Police" by Rose City Copwatch http://cobp.resist.ca/sites/cobp.resist.ca/files/alternatives-to-police-web.pdf
"Prison Abolition is Practical" by Nathan Goodman [me] http://c4ss.org/content/20326
"Abolish the Police" by Anthony Gregory http://www.lewrockwell.com/2011/05/anthony-gregory/abolish-the-police/
"Resisting Gender Violence Without Cops or Prisons" by Victoria Law http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qlozk7G-JYo
TGI (Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex) Justice Project http://www.tgijp.org/
This is far from a complete list, and I will likely update later.
This is great. Thank you.
The Salvation Army have multimillion dollar contracts from the Australian Govt to staff the offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island. They are funded to provide ‘humanitarian’ cover for Australia’s system of extrajudicial internment of people who arrive seeking asylum by boat, and they have an appalling history on human rights in practice and according to their religious doctrines.
They have attempted to cover-up sexual abuses on Manus - and they have a history of doing so, at present being under investigation by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. They are committed homophobes and rule out providing full reproductive rights (such as information on abortion services) to women as part of the delivery of health and welfare services they are funded to provide.
Give your donations to organisations that really care about other people this Christmas.
I hate the salvation army so much.
Not limiting their activities to the earthly realm, American and British spies have infiltrated the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft and Second Life, conducting surveillance and scooping up data in the online games played by millions of people across the globe, according to newly disclosed classified documents.
Fearing that terrorist or criminal networks could use the games to communicate secretly, move money or plot attacks, the documents show, intelligence operatives have entered terrain populated by digital avatars that include elves, gnomes and supermodels.
Usually my job on this blog is to post articles about the police or their pals being awful and yell, “LOOK AT THIS INJUSTICE.” But not this time. These folks have figured out how to play WoW and Second Life at work under the guise of “National Security,” and for that they have my respect.
A clear day in the early nineteen-eighties, for example. A man drives past the harbor of the city in which he lives. He sees docked boats, restaurants, children at play, the island sleeping in the distance. Without quite meaning to, he remembers that the island is a prison. And then, as he is a man of some imagination, he imagines something worse: that people are tortured there. It has been going on for a while.
Years pass. The rough sea of the crossing makes it feel far. The swells are huge. The ferry could sink like a stone. Our tour guide, used to it, sleeps on the journey. Soon, in less than half an hour, the ferry arrives. The prison is now a museum. There was and is a pitiful garden along a wall.
Obscene. That is the word, a word of contested etymology, that she must hold on to as a talisman. She chooses to believe that obscene means offstage. To save our humanity, certain things that we may want to see (may want to see because we are human!) must remain off-stage. (1)
A sunny afternoon, 1977. The torturers have arranged for some of the prisoners to be photographed. They lead them to an arid patch of land (away from their own tiny garden within the walls) and give them shovels. The press is told: this is a garden. A photographer takes a picture and captions it: ’n Gevangene werksaam in die tuin. “A prisoner working in the garden.” The prisoner is not working. He stands erect, faces forward. He wears a floppy hat and dark glasses (when they let him go thirteen years later, he will be unable to shed tears: the limestone quarry will have ruined his eyes). He is a contained fury.
On the island, the tour guide mentions names. Each falls like a stroke of the cane. Sobukwe, Sisulu, Mbeki, Kathrada. On the other side of the island—the island which is surprisingly big, surprisingly wild—the waves break their heads against the rocks repeatedly, trying to forget. From time to time we see ruined ships.
Twenty-seven years later, the prisoner looks at the photograph. “I remember that day. The authorities brought these people to prove that we were still alive.” Ambushed by memory, the prisoner becomes angry again. He begins to denounce one of the visitors from that day. A handler intervenes, “Khulu (Great One), you know you can’t talk like that.” He won’t be corrected. “No, we must be honest about these things.” The god of his youth is in his voice.
Blacks are allowed in the Company’s Gardens now. You can see them with their families on a warm day. Things have changed (but fewer are the blacks in the fine restaurants on Long Street, two blocks over; things are unchanged). Near the Gardens is the Slave Lodge. In the heart of the Gardens is the monumental statue of Rhodes, his arm raised towards the rest of the continent: CECIL JOHN RHODES, 1835-1902. YOUR HINTERLAND IS HERE. His gesture reads, through history’s lens, like a Nazi salute.
White supremacy has its uses. Because of its great care and its thoughtful strategy, because of the tireless way it hoards its hatred, it is good at making heroes. Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Desmond Tutu: what would our lives have meant without theirs? No wheel moves without friction. Without the obscenity of white supremacy to resist, they might have been mere happy family men. Nevertheless:Whoever was tortured, stays tortured. Torture is ineradicably burned into him, even when no clinically objective traces can be detected. (2)
The island migrates to other places and the torturers diversify. But the island is never far away. Occasionally, it leaps into the mind of a woman as she goes through her day during the twenty-first century. A man, somewhere, is jolted awake in the middle of the night by things he knows are true. If the island’s physical distance is a little greater now, its moral distance is not.
The prisoner finally dies. The torturers take a moment to praise him (to praise themselves). Then they return to work.
1. J. M. Coetzee, “Elizabeth Costello,” 2003.
2. Jean Améry, “At the Mind’s Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities,” 1980.
Hereâs a fun fact that didnât come up in yesterdayâs City Council hearing: 141 cops in Boston earned a bigger paycheck than the mayor did last year. Thatâs right. Mayor Menino earns $175,00. If you count base pay, the Quinn education bonus, details, and overtime, 141 cops earned more. Another fact: Nearly a third of all Boston police officers earned more than Governor Deval Patrick. Iâm not kidding.The governor earned $137,000 last year. About 600 cops took home more more. No one disputes that police officers, many of whom work long hours and face danger in their jobs, deserve to be well-paid for what they do. But examine a list of police salaries, and youâll find that they already are.
"[A]bout 70 percent of sworn officers took home more than $100,000 last year.”
Black people are no more likely to smoke marijuana than white people. They’re 3.73 times more likely to get arrested for it.
Incarceration is creating a social and economic crisis in Bostonâs black community, leaving families without breadwinners, creating single-parent households, and depressing incomes, according to a survey by the Center for Church and Prison, a Dorchester nonprofit research and resource center. Families, the report found, must struggle to stay together under the weight of loss: the loss of financial stability, the loss of family stability, the loss of a sense of security. The findings build upon other research that identifies the disproportionate effect of the war on drugs on the black community and the emphasis in the criminal justice system on punishment, rather than rehabilitation.
#Not1more strikes again: California youth protest for-profit immigration detention center
November 25, 2013
Three young adults chained their necks with bicycle locks to the front gates of the newly reopened Adelanto Detention Center, a for-profit immigrant prison in California.
Since its reopening in 2011, Adelanto has become the largest immigrant detention center in California. It’s privately owned and run by GEO Group Inc., a for-profit prison corporation. Adelanto is already known for its “segregation cells,” a form of solitary confinement. The privately-owned prison has 1,200 beds to hold migrants who are either waiting for a ruling on their immigration cases or to be deported from the country.
The three young women are part of the Empire Inland-Immigrant Youth Coalition. The action was organized to support three family members currently detained inside the prison, with the broader demand to end inhumane incarceration and release everyone detained in time for the holiday season.
“We need a moratorium on deportations, deferred action for all, and the end of inhumane treatment,” said Luis Serrano of the Coalition.
Today’s action is part of the broader national #Not1more campaign intended to pressure President Obama to take administrative relief and halt deportations. Since he has taken office in 2008, nearly two million people have been deported, more than during any other time in U.S. history. The #Not1more campaign is behind the escalating national movement to use direct action to stop deportations, which include shutdowns of ICE detention centers across the country.