The Weekly Abolitionist: Last Week in Torture
Last Friday, August 1st, President Barack Obama commented on the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11. At first glance, his comments look like an acknowledgement of wrongdoing. After all, Obama acknowledged that “When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques – techniques that I believe, and I think any fair-minded person would believe were…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Gun Control, Structural Racism, and the Prison State
An excellent article published last week by Radley Balko in The Washington Post explores the racially discriminatory consequences of gun control laws in the United States, as illustrated through the lens of several recent news stories. Balko begins by discussing the arrest of Shaneen Allen: Last October, Shaneen Allen, 27, was pulled over in Atlantic…
Entrepreneurial Anti-Capitalism: The Anarchist Black Cross
Prisons are the antithesis of all we stand for as anarchists. While we seek a society built around peace and bodily autonomy, prisons are violent institutions that trap inmates at gunpoint and make them vulnerable to rape and murder. Where we seek justice through restitution, reconciliation, and self-defense, prisons are based on punitive vengeance. While…
The Weekly Abolitionist: “Remember All Their Faces, Remember All Their Voices”
Since Nathan Goodman has asked me to fill in for him this week on The Weekly Abolitionist, I’d like to focus on something important to radical political struggles that isn’t talked about much: fiction. As prison abolitionists, we can talk at length about the ways that prisons as such encourage abuse, add to recidivism, interlock…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Jury Nullification in The Nation
On July 7th, Molly Knefel published a great piece on jury nullification in The Nation. Knefel opens by discussing the trial of Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street protester who was convicted of “assaulting” a police officer who had assaulted her, and sentenced to a prison term that most of the jurors who convicted her…
The Weekly Abolitionist: GPS Tracking as an Alternative to Prisons?
Dylan Matthews recently published an article at Vox titled Prisons are terrible, and there’s finally a way to get rid of them. Matthews’ article starts out strong, beginning with an explanation of the horrific costs of prisons. He describes the appalling rates of physical and sexual assault, the data on systemic racism, and the costs…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Jury Nullification and Ending the Prison State In Utah
This Wednesday, June 25th at the Salt Lake City Library, I will discuss Ending the Prison State in Utah with Kirsten Tynan, director of the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA). I’m quite excited about this. I’ve admired FIJA’s work for a long time. Their work educating people across the political spectrum about jury rights and jury nullification helps…
The Weekly Abolitionist: The Structural Roots of Overcriminalization
America’s criminal code is massive, criminalizing a litany of seemingly harmless and ethical actions. In an excellent 2013 article in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Paul Larkin explores this overcriminalization through the lens of public choice theory. Public choice theory uses the assumptions and methods of economics to study the behavior of…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Prisons as Upward Wealth Redistribution
One of the main functions the state serves in practice is to forcibly transfer wealth to politically connected interest groups. Prisons serve that function today, and they have served it historically. In The Enterprise of Law,  economist Bruce Benson documents the rise of state controlled law enforcement in England. Stateless customary tort law had previously prevailed,…
The Weekly Abolitionist: How Prisons Kill
In recent weeks, I’ve seen multiple stories about deaths in prisons. These deaths were all preventable and easily attributable to prison conditions. Let’s examine a few of these incidents. According to the Miami Herald, “Florida’s Department of Corrections is facing a third potential criminal probe in the wake of another inmate death at a state…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Stop Caging Kids
This week marks the 2014 National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth. Across the country, actions will be held to protest everything from the criminalization of queer and disabled youth to the isolation of youth in solitary confinement. Ultimately, what activists are protesting is systematic child abuse by the state. Kids are being locked in…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Prison Healthcare and Structural Neglect
Robert Johannes, a 73 year old man, is currently incarcerated in Michigan. His attorney, Daniel E. Manville, contends that inadequate access to dental care has left Johannes missing teeth for extended periods of time and unable to eat. As Michigan Live reported, “The lawsuit claims that Johannes has had several teeth removed, including three bicuspids and…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Prisons, Control, and Black Market Resistance
Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails are not allowed conjugal visits. They have no physical contact with loved ones, and all visits have a glass barrier between visitors and inmates. But prisoners and their wives are finding a route around this social control by smuggling sperm out of prison and using in vitro fertilization to…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Starve the Prison State
The following article contains graphic description of a sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised. Occasionally I see a headline that makes me want to cheer. “Corporations Divest Nearly $60 Million From Private Prison Industry” was such a headline. As Katie Rose Quandt reported in Mother Jones: Scopia Capital Management, DSM North America, and Amica Mutual…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Lysander Spooner’s Legacy for the 21st Century
Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) annual conference. I saw many excellent presentations, including Ed Stringham’s talk on anarchism, Abigail Hall presenting a paper on how foreign wars bring repression home, David Skarbek discussing prison gangs as self-governing institutions that facilitate market exchange, Brian Meehan…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Proportional Pizza
Whenever someone asks me about the problems of the prison state and why I would like to abolish the entire prison system, I just say, “read Nathan Goodman’s blog ya muppets!” I’m delighted to be writing this guest blog post for my pal Nathan, who does a wonderful job highlighting the problems and moral atrocities…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Prison State Roundup
There’s a lot of news and information related to prisons, policing, borders, and other facets of the prison state. In previous editions of the Weekly Abolitionist, I have tried to fit multiple stories into one theme or analytic frame. This week, however, I’ve encountered a diverse enough range of articles relating to these issues that…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Abolish Criminalization, Abolish the State
A recent article by Deborah Small at Salon raises some genuinely valuable points about the likely pitfalls of prison reform and the broad scope of the problem of criminalization. Yet the headline, and the later paragraphs, package these important and interesting points into yet another one of the “progressives should fear and despise libertarians” pieces…
The Weekly Abolitionist: Prisons, Deportations and Empire
If you oppose mass incarceration, you should oppose empire. If you oppose imperialism and militarism, you should oppose the prison state. Empire and incarceration are two related institutions of brutal state violence, and they are mutually reinforcing. A new article by my friend Henia Belalia argues that immigrants’ rights should be understood in a context…
The Weekly Abolitionist: The Prison State’s Ongoing Growth
These days, some policy makers are discussing rolling back America’s system of mass incarceration. Figures from Eric Holder to Rand Paul are proposing eliminating many mandatory minimum sentences. States like Colorado are legalizing marijuana. But while some policy makers talk about shrinking the prison state, prison expansion continues to be pushed and passed by legislators….
The Anatomy of Escape
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
Free Markets & Capitalism?
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist