What are you talking about?!

The first time someone mentioned the concept of prison abolition to me I thought, “Yeah, but like, what do you really mean?”

Turns out what they really meant was prison abolition. That does not mean vigilantes with sledge hammers destroying prisons and repopulating the senate with serial rapists, which tends to be the immediate mental image (roughly) when someone says “prison abolition.” What it does mean is replacing incarceration with responses to crime that actually make people safer, happier, and healthier (“people” here meaning all people, not just the people who are currently protected by our legal system). In some cases – serial rapists, for example – this response should probably still include confinement of some kind. In most cases, I don’t think it should.

The purpose of this here blog is to talk prison abolition without bullshit, realistically and imaginatively. In order to do this, it’s crucial to talk about what’s wrong with prisons, because frankly if prisons weren’t completely fucked in nearly every way possible, we’d be better off not taking on one of the most pervasive and powerful concepts in our national and world culture: crime and punishment.

So read, and comment, and get in touch with me, and let’s work on abolishing prisons.

One thought on “What are you talking about?!

  1. xi0 says:

    Just found this site. ON this somber of World Refugee Days 2012, i hope this may be useful and uplifting. it is an ongoing draft of liberation crafted originally for 6/11 “International Day of Prisoner Solidarity” — thank you for your work and digital presence. peace:

    Please, help STOP ECOCIDE and curb the militarized waste
    of our planet and oceans!

    6/11 marks The Day of International Prisoner Solidarity for many warriors whose actions and passions have been targeted by a world regime fixated on mass slaughter. These ‘leaders’ of state plan to rendezvous at coming the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

    We can tackle these problems and protect our ocean
    resources for future generations, but it will require bold
    action and cooperation among many nations and tribes and
    peoples not represented at the ‘Summit’.

    President Obama recently signed a billion dollar law suit in favor
    of indigenous peoples in the U.S.; inclusivity and dialogue
    are parts of the democratic process and this Earth Summit
    acts like it has authority to make decisions that will affect
    the world around.

    For Tsilhqot’in First Nation and Teztan
    Biny (Fish Lake) Canadian British Columbia, look to the bold
    testament of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN)
    in the Netherlands against TAR SANDS; stand up as did Brazilian
    judge Teles Pires who recently found
    the Belo Monte dam project to be in violation of indigenous
    rights. The ‘Pygmies’ and the Congo rainforest, the Yanomami
    people in Venezuela, the Yasuni rainforests of Ecuador,
    Cascadians resisting coal and nuclear sludge within the bio-
    region recognized in western geo-political terms as the
    Pacific Northwest, Appalachians being poised by toxic run-off
    from industrialized mountain flattening, others facing similar
    due to Fracking and on and on… Too many do not
    have representation
    at the ‘summit’ but are amidst The struggle
    to survive as Mohamed Nasheed (former president
    of Maldives) certainly knows.
    Significant climate and environmental leadership is growing
    globally and is truly a grassroots charge.

    Many bold citizens have risked their own lives
    to protect valuable life on
    this planet only to be brutally detained, fined, and meddled
    with, infiltrated, pre-meditatively entrapped with surveillance
    that violated the oath that all government gives those whom
    it represents, and revoked of other freedoms and rights protected
    by the Constitution. This tide must be turned at a judicial
    and executive level. Sentencing and application of ‘terrorism’
    charges are absurdly applied to political prisoners whereas
    corporate villains seem to be encouraged to ramp up the slaughter.
    The eco-terror must end as also must governmental violence
    against the very ones who hope and dream and work towards
    better breathing air and clean water and food and shelter
    providing privacy and safety in order to sustain life. Recent
    leadership has come from President Laura Chinchilla Miranda
    who declared a plan towards boldly preserving 33% of Costa
    Rica’s lands towards natural projects (while championing
    Internet free of corpora-government control and spying).
    Use cinema-real creativity like Mohamed Nasheed and inclusivity
    like you did so charismatically in your 2008 campaign. Show similar
    leadership in continuing to expand the peaceful democratic
    process by heeding these bold leaders in your most honorable

    Worldwide we daily remember the vital struggle of earthen life and mourn our broken kinship; for those with invitations to the G20 in Rio Sept, 2012 we call for a show of compassionate reprieve and to recognize the following:

    A cessation of counterproductive abuses against animal and environmental
    advocates; drop charges against United States prisoners:
    Heather Nicholson,
    Briana Waters
    Grant Barnes
    Michael Sykes
    Tim DeChristopher
    Political prisoners, too long detained in Orleans Parish Prison
    remaining of The Angola 3 whom Robert King since release
    in 2001 has been an international leader for justice,
    Albert Woodfox
    Herman Wallace

    As leader Vandana Shiva speaks of Marie Mason
    (recipient of the longest prison sentence for alleged
    involvement in the Michigan State anti-GMO incineration),
    “I pay tribute to Marie Mason for what she did to keep our food,
    Our agriculture, our environment free of GMO’s.
    I think it’s criminal that she’s been treated like a criminal.
    And that’s why we need a movement for the rights of nature,
    and for the Defenders of nature so they continue along with
    their work to protect this beautiful planet and our shared freedoms.’
    Marie herself says, “Keep your minds open to making better
    compassionate change happen.”
    Pardon and Drop ALL charges from Marie Mason for her actions
    as well as for
    Eric McDavid who has been sentenced to 20 yrs
    (REALLY?!) for talking about
    environmental activism. Pardon,
    Charles Sims Africa
    Johathan Paul
    Rod Coronado
    Luke Steele
    Camille Marino
    Gavin Medd-Hall
    Steve Murphy
    John Torres
    Richard Ostander

    And those being detained overseas:
    Abdul Haqq (formerly Walter Bond)
    Adrian Magdaleno Gonzalez
    Camille Marino
    Daniel McGowan
    Jordan Halliday
    Joyanna Zacher
    Nathan Block
    Justin Solondz
    Kellie VanOrden
    Marie Jeanette Mason
    Victor VanOrden
    Viktor Padellaro
    Paul Shephard (Germany) whom The Five Nation Iroquois
    Confederacy asked to be released; and the following in the (UK):
    Gavin Medd-Hall
    Heather Nicholson
    Luke Steele
    Mel Broughton
    Sarah Whitehead
    Oso Blanco
    Alvaro Luna Hernandez
    Ramiro Choc

    …and other entrepuernuers of liberty such as Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. 2011 Nobel peace honorary Tawalek Karman’s journalistic work earned her Nobel distinctions. Why not consistently celebrate, freedom journalists like Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, among more than 100 imprisoned in Turkey, and many in Ecuador, Syria, Mayanmar, Italy, etc… They
    exemplify the standard, rather, the illness that has crept
    through the collective justice.

    Their lives and current abuses bind ours as the hinge
    of judicial proceedings carrying rippling implications for
    the advancement and upholding of civil rights and freedoms;
    freedom of information, and freedom from (e.g. murderous drone-strike)
    tyranny are the tidal
    current that must be de facto law; they will ebb and flow
    in accord to the status of all life forms and universal law.
    Regardless of the intention and will of the ones who play at
    ‘order and control.’

    Along with lemurs, polar bears and salmon struggling, 200 species daily pass ever from existence. Can it be refuted that this is loss of life – indeed, biodynamic necessity – considerably genocidal?

    Yet Cape
    Verde and Hawaii, Phillipines too face what rising sea levels
    have shown since hurricanes Mitch, Katrina-Rita, Ivan, Gustav
    Etc. We all face climate change and together confront the formerly icy rising waters of the judgment of ones footprint.

    We must not damn our brothers and sisters to extinction nor to rot in terminal acidity nor in concrete isolation-shells.

    Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

    End the dehumanization of the conditions
    of isolation and what 8th Amendments rights defendants
    Todd Asker and Danny Troxell.
    Act for liberty and justice
    with regards to Ruiz v. Brown.
    See Judge Forrest’s favor with “The Freedom 7”.

    Judge Claudia Wilken may too humanize
    the stain of impartial race discrimination that is continuing
    through the criminal justice industrial and privatization.
    Improve conditions in the Red Onion in Virginia and find amends
    to an earlier pro se lawsuit filed by the Pelican Bay SHU prisoners;
    release to their families and home-communities:

    Todd Ashker
    and Danny Troxell.

    Manuel C. Salas and Ronald Cherney, the prison industrial complex can not provide healthy vegan food as they demand.

    Promptly serve civil liberty as well as global health
    and equality. Pardon and release:
    Cece McDonald (for defending her life
    from someone who hated and attacked her)
    and Leslie Feinberg.

    Free Leonard Peltier who writes in his autobiography,
    “I know what I am. I am an Indian–an Indian who dared to stand up to defend his people. I am an innocent man who never murdered anyone nor wanted to. And, yes, I am a Sun Dancer. That, too, is my identity. If I am to suffer as a symbol of my people, then I suffer proudly. I will never yield.”
    and free Wayne Spears.

    Free Dr. Tarek Mehanna, the 28-year-old Muslim, Egyptian-American and a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, who has been held in solitary confinement 23 hours and faces a lifetime of confinement because of ‘terrorism’ charges.

    Stop targeting Islamic and Amish, Mennonite, Quaker
    & other peace communities,
    organizations and mosques. No one
    should have to pray under a camera. Freedom for:
    Ahmed Abdullah
    Waqar Hassan Khan
    Eman Hassan
    Yasir Zamzam
    and Rami Zamzam.
    Shifa and a group of Muslim American political
    prisoners in the Communication Management Unit
    (CMU) at Marion, IL,

    Stop laying of waste to entire sovereign nations;
    don’t show that you will allow the waste human spirit
    and direct the world in healing our society and planet. Eliminate
    the cancerous smog of ‘Three Stikes’, as well as the social cancer
    of fear and repression. ‘Stop and frisk’ police policy is writhe
    with discrimination; breads ‘stop and shoot’ as with the tragedy
    of Oscar Grant’s murder. Trayvon Martin’s family still suffers
    his loss because of civilian hatred and an ignorance of
    peaceable confrontation.

    Why don’t you lead this country along with Trayvon’s
    lawyers and New York civil liberties advocates, Navy veteran John
    Hector, Carl Dix, and Fullbright scholar and Jamel Mims, who
    recently described being raised in ‘terminal fear’, and New York
    Senator Eric Waters in outrage over abuses by a militarized police-
    state violence?

    Free Puerto Rican Political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera whose underground work with FALN became ‘reason’ for the FBI to propagandize him publicly as one of America’s ‘most feared fugitives.’ Because of helping to found the Puerto Rican cultural center in Chicago he has endured the torturous conditions of Marion,IL. Marion IL where, ‘many violations of the (UN) Minimum Standard Rules (for treating prisoners) are common. There is almost no rule in the Minimum Standard Rules that is not broken in one form of another’ reports Amnesty International (AI). Is this consistent with your ‘HOPE’?
    Also release community leader:
    Alvelino Gonzalez Claudio
    Norbert Gonzalez Claudio
    Carlos Alberto Torres.

    Ramon Salar (Luis Medina)
    Sekau Odinga
    Delbert Ore Africa
    Janine Philips Africa
    Abdul Majid
    Thomas Manning
    William Phillips Africa
    Alvao Luna Hernandez
    Mondowe Langa (D.Rice)
    Ted Kaczynski
    Keith Lamar (Bomani Shukar)
    Norberto Gonzalez Claudio
    Daniel Magowen
    Whom each passed a birthday in May or June without basic freedoms for which we stand.

    Millions including Jill Stein are having articulate
    and thoughtful discussion regarding these circumstances.
    Things are exciting now; though not detached from any
    of the cohesive struggle for the leveling of justice to bend
    more circularly – towards equality and humble coexistence
    with and among this blue marble.

    Free Richard Mafundi whose work as an organizer against police brutality in Alabama should be honored instead of twisted into allegations against his patriotism and then locking him away.
    Free Felix Cheremnykh to take his prison art into communities and spread healing reunifications of individuals with the greater community not walled and barred, but intermixing and weaving together for generative bio-prosperity.
    Free Palestinian prisoners and ensure the likes of KHADER ADNAN MOHAMMAD MUSA to receive the urgent healthcare they need. Act for universal healthcare to free global life from the oppression of an unsustainable perpetual growth model that otherwise will soon extinct everyone.

    Understand that non-response shows compliance.

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