A Few Articles on Prison Abolition, Decarceration, and Prisoner Support

If you are at home this Saturday night (it’s too hot to go out, honestly) maybe you are looking for a few articles to read and a few ways to show support! We thought we would share a few links with you all tonight!

What is Prison Abolition, anyway?

Prison Abolitionists envision a world where isolating and warehousing human beings is no longer normal or necessary. Read more with this article from The Nation and consider following up with a book on the subject. A short and very interesting (classic) reading on this is “Are Prisons Obsolete?” by Angela Davis.

How do we move towards Decarceration?

Decarceration is the idea of emptying the jails and prisons through changing policies or laws, closing prisons, making alternative systems, etc. This process has been started in some ways, for example: by reforming drug laws, opposing the construction of new facilities, and advocating diversion programs. However, ultimately we must also look at changing some more heavily ingrained ideas about incarceration to make a larger dent in this system. Bail reform or cash bail abolition is one of the newer ways to promote decarceration by ending the detention of those who have not been convicted and are only being held due to inability to pay cash bail. Changes around sentencing and ideas about dealing with “violent” crime will be necessary to make a widespread impact on state prison populations.

Decarceration advocates won a huge victory yesterday when a federal judge ruled Orleans Parish can no longer jail people for failing to pay fines and fees and ordered that a “neutral” hearing is necessary in such cases. This has the potential to keep many working class people out of jail:

“For years, the Orleans Parish court’s collections department — and individual judges — routinely issued arrest warrants for people who failed to pay fines and fees assessed after a conviction. Civil rights groups claimed that practice created an “unconstitutional and unjust modern debtors’ prison.”

In response to the legal attack, court officials recalled thousands of arrest warrants issued solely on the basis of unpaid fines or fees, writing off about $1 million in debts in the process.”

Supporting Prisoners:

There are many ways to support prisoners; one is to support their writing/art and recognize the humanity and powerful messages they convey through their work. Tony “Egbuna” Ford, a Texas Death Row inmate, recently wrote this piece as a tribute to his friend Christopher Young, executed on the 17th of July. His piece also portrays the struggles and culture of both the prisoners and the guards at the unit.
UncaptiveVoices:The Night Before

Another prisoner, writer, and activist that needs support is Kevin “Rashid” Johnson. Rashid, like other prison journalists and activists, has been targeted for harassment and placed in solitary confinement. His supporters are currently pushing for his release.

You can show your support here.

Support prisoner or detainee strikes! Incarcerated migrants are on hunger strike inside of Karnes Immigration “Detention Facility”(which is a jail for migrants/refugees/people awaiting deportation proceedings). Prisoners throughout the US have announced intention to strike again this year, starting August 21st. Solidarity actions are needed to support these protests.

Lastly, send birthday cards or become a pen pal to an incarcerated person. Ending the isolation of prisoners is important to reintegrating people into society, improving their mental health, and improving their chances of coming home. We have some suggestions and addresses here.

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