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Prisons, Police , & Abolition

Prisons, Police , & Abolition

Possibly one of the topics I get the most questions about: what does contemporary police and prison abolition look like, and is it truly feasible or just an ideal?

Well, let’s read.

What a deeply important topic to close out the year with. This #BecauseWeveRead unit on police, prisons, and abolition builds on our past units on race, anti-Blackness, and capitalism and explores the relationship of these themes as they are connected to global policing and mass incarceration that is deeply interwoven into the political and economic system of the United States. The prison-police industry is so vast and interconnected with, and dependent upon, anti-Blackness, anti-Muslim racism, classism, white supremacy, capitalism, and the maintenance of global empire and control. Police are truly a shared violence globally, from Israel to India to London to the United States, police around the world share tips, weapons, violence, and a mutual root in upholding an oppressive status quo. While most of these texts focus on the United States, many policing tactics are shared widely–and therefore so is the opportunity for global resistance and solidarity.

We’re reading the intro to the incredibly fundamental The New Jim Crow, a collection of essays and interviews on global policing, and of course a few chapters from Angela Davis’ profound Are Prisons Obsolete? that focus on gender and imagining alternatives. In this unit, we’re not just talking about systems and problems, but also encouraging a discussion about solutions. We’re understanding and exploring the root of police and prisons to ask, and propose answers for, the questions: What are the relationships between the prison system, capitalism, race, and class? Can reforms fix this? What does justice look like? What does a world look like without police or prisons?

Be sure to take a look through the additional resources, as there is quite a list of amazing podcasts, videos, visualizations, and articles that really take the readings to the next level and provide incredible depth to the topics and questions at hand!

As mentioned on Instagram, due to popular demand, we are also moving to releasing a new book every two months (as opposed to every month) to give more time to everyone to read in time for the instagram live discussion and stay on-track (and for our international members to have their books delivered to them before the end of the month, hah)!

Additional Resources

+ “A Jailbreak of the Imagination: Seeing Prisons for What They Are and Demanding Transformation” essay by Mariame Kaba & Kelly Hayes

Ear Hustle (podcast), brings you the stories of life inside prison, shared and produced by those living it.

Missing Daddy (2018), a children’s book written by Mariame Kaba and illustrated by bria royal helping children cope with incarcerated parents

+ Prison Abolition Syllabus 2.0

A World Without Police study guide

+ Verso five book plan on Political Policing

+ A collection of infographs, maps, and data visualization on prisons

+ The writing of abolitionist Mariame Kaba (@prisonculture on twitter)

“You are Already an Abolitionist”, essay on RadFag

“No Abolition Without Demilitarization: Black and Muslim Solidarity For Ending Policing Worldwide”, essay on RadFag

“You Cannot Challenge Gun Violence Without Challenging the Military”, essay on JooJoo Azad

“4 Things You Need to Know About Police, Militarization, and Islamophobia”, essay on JooJoo Azad

Angela Davis on Prison Abolition, the War on Drugs and Why Social Movements Shouldn’t Wait on Obama (video), Democracy Now

#BelieversBailOut Twitter town hall on the prison industrial complex, bail, and abolition from Muslim perspectives

“The Political Economy of Prison Labour: From Penal Welfarism to the Penal State” journal article

+ The New Jim Crow study guide

Invisible Institute, a journalism and research-based company on the South Side of Chicago conducting research, developing databases, and managing projects related to policing in Chicago. Check out their databases, projects, and reports!

How to End the Police State (video) conversation hosted by Verso Books

+ A selection of writing by Malcolm X