Regular C4SS readers may have noticed the emergence of some weekly blogs here at Stigmergy. Trevor Hultner‘s been delivering excellent media analysis and criticism every Tuesday. And Natasha Petrova brings a litany of left libertarian links with her Weekly Libertarian Leftist and Chess Review. I’ve decided to join the trend with a weekly blog on a topic I care about a lot: prison abolition. As I’ve written previously, I believe prison abolition is both a moral imperative and something we can take practical action to achieve. There are lots of people taking practical actions to help end the massive prison state that currently cages millions of people, and this blog will highlight their work.
One of my favorite prison abolitionists is Dean Spade. He’s a transgender rights activist and a founding member of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), a legal advocacy group that fights for transgender rights and particularly emphasizes prison abolition and the damage done by structural poverty. Next week he will be joining SRLP’s Reina Gossett for a discussion on prison abolition put on by the Barnard Center on Women. Gossett and Spade recorded an excellent video series on prison abolition. The videos deal with many issues, including everyday prison abolitionist practices, how to balance abolitionist goals with immediate needs, addressing the idea of “dangerous people” that make prisons necessary, and understanding the prison system as violently criminal in itself. Dean Spade puts it bluntly, pointing out that “The prison is the serial killer. The prison is the serial rapist.” The fourth video in particular is noteworthy, in that it addresses a topic too many on the left have ignored: the way gun control bolsters the prison system and the bigoted myths behind it. You can register for the online discussion with Spade and Gossett here.
BCRW research assistant Carly Crane has also written an excellent blog post in relation to the event, titled Exploring Prison Abolition. It’s a great introduction to prison abolition, discussing the connections between prison abolition and feminism, as well as prison abolition’s broader role as a principled movement against violence.
One of the most damaging and dangerous aspects of the prison state is the way it criminalizes and cages huge numbers of immigrants who have done nothing more than peacefully cross lines drawn violently by states. Isabelle Nastasia and Jenny Marks recently published an excellent piece at Youngist that deals with immigrants’ rights from a prison abolitionist perspective. Their article uses Justin Bieber’s immigration issues as a jumping off point to discuss some vitally important issues. I highly recommend the article, which deals with the false divisions states use to sustain their structures of violence, queering immigration politics, and a variety of other key abolitionist issues.
These links provide just a few examples of the prison abolitionist action and scholarship is going on all over the United States and all around us. Under a nation state that locks up over 2 million people, such an abolitionist movement is absolutely vital.