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Is Prison Necessary? Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind - The New York Times
"“I get where you’re coming from,” she said. “But how about this: Instead of asking whether anyone should be locked up or go free, why don’t we think about why we solve problems by repeating the kind of behavior that brought us the problem in the first place?” She was asking them to consider why, as a society, we would choose to model cruelty and vengeance.

As she spoke, she felt the kids icing her out, as if she were a new teacher who had come to proffer some bogus argument and tell them it was for their own good. But Gilmore pressed on, determined. She told them that in Spain, where it’s really quite rare for one person to kill another, the average time you might serve for murdering someone is seven years.

“What? Seven years!” The kids were in such disbelief about a seven-year sentence for murder that they relaxed a little bit. They could be outraged about that, instead of about Gilmore’s ideas.

Gilmore told them that in the unusual event that someone in Spain thinks he is going to solve a problem by killing another person, the response is that the person loses seven years of his life to think about what he has done, and to figure out how to live when released. “What this policy tells me,” she said, “is that where life is precious, life is precious.” Which is to say, she went on, in Spain people have decided that life has enough value that they are not going to behave in a punitive and violent and life-annihilating way toward people who hurt people. “And what this demonstrates is that for people trying to solve their everyday problems, behaving in a violent and life-annihilating way is not a solution.”

The children showed Gilmore no emotion except guarded doubt, expressed in side eye. She kept talking. She believed her own arguments and had given them many years of thought as an activist and a scholar, but the kids were a tough sell. They told Gilmore that they would think about what she said and dismissed her. As she left the room, she felt totally defeated.

At the end of the day, the kids made a presentation to the broader conference, announcing, to Gilmore’s surprise, that in their workshop they had come to the conclusion that there were three environmental hazards that affected their lives most pressingly as children growing up in the Central Valley. Those hazards were pesticides, the police and prisons.

“Sitting there listening to the kids stopped my heart,” Gilmore told me. “Why? Abolition is deliberately everything-ist; it’s about the entirety of human-environmental relations. So, when I gave the kids an example from a different place, I worried they might conclude that some people elsewhere were just better or kinder than people in the South San Joaquin Valley — in other words, they’d decide what happened elsewhere was irrelevant to their lives. But judging from their presentation, the kids lifted up the larger point of what I’d tried to share: Where life is precious, life is precious. They asked themselves, ‘Why do we feel every day that life here is not precious?’ In trying to answer, they identified what makes them vulnerable.”"

"The National Employment Law Project estimates that about 70 million people have a record of arrest or conviction, which often makes employment difficult. Many end up in the informal economy, which has been absorbing a huge share of labor over the last 20 years. “Gardener, home health care, sweatshops, you name it,” Gilmore told me. “These people have a place in the economy, but they have no control over that place.” She continued: “The key point here, about half of the work force, is to think not only about the enormity of the problem, but the enormity of the possibilities! That so many people could benefit from being organized into solid formations, could make certain kinds of demands, on the people who pay their wages, on the communities where they live. On the schools their children go to. This is part of what abolitionist thinking should lead us to.”

“Abolition,” as a word, is an intentional echo of the movement to abolish slavery. “This work will take generations, and I’m not going to be alive to see the changes,” the activist Mariame Kaba told me. “Similarly I know that our ancestors, who were slaves, could not have imagined my life.” And as Kaba and Davis and Richie and Gilmore all told me, unsolicited and in almost identical phrasing, it is not serendipity that the movement of prison abolition is being led by black women. Davis and Richie each used the term “abolition feminism.” “Historically, black feminists have had visions to change the structure of society in ways that would benefit not just black women but everyone,” Davis said. She also talked about Du Bois and the lessons drawn from his conception of what was needed: not merely a lack of slavery but a new society, utterly transformed. “I think the fact that so many people now do call themselves prison abolitionists,” Michelle Alexander told me, “is a testament to the fact that an enormous amount of work has been done, in academic circles and in grass-root circles. Still, if you just say ‘prison abolition’ on CNN, you’re going to have a lot of people shaking their heads. But Ruthie has always been very clear that prison abolition is not just about closing prisons. It’s a theory of change.”

When Gilmore encounters an audience that is hostile to prison abolition, an audience that supposes she’s naïvely suggesting that those in prison are there for smoking weed, and wants to tell her who’s really locked up, what terrible things they’ve done, she tells them she’s had a loved one murdered and isn’t there to talk about people who smoke weed. But as she acknowledged to me, “Part of the whole story that can’t be denied is that people are tired of harm, they are tired of grief and they are tired of anxiety.” She described to me conversations she’d had with people who are glad their abusive husband or father has been removed from their home, and would not want it any other way. Of her own encounter with murder, she’s more philosophical, even if the loss still seems raw.

“I had this heart-to-heart with my aunt, the mother of my murdered cousin, John. On the surface, we were talking about something else, but we were really talking about him. I said, ‘Forgive and forget.’ And she replied, ‘Forgive, but never forget.’ She was right: The conditions under which the atrocity occurred must change, so that they can’t occur again.”

For Gilmore, to “never forget” means you don’t solve a problem with state violence or with personal violence. Instead, you change the conditions under which violence prevailed. Among liberals, a kind of quasi-Christian idea about empathy circulates, the idea that we have to find a way to care about the people who’ve done bad. To Gilmore this is unconvincing. When she encountered the kids in Fresno who hassled her about prison abolition, she did not ask them to empathize with the people who might hurt them, or had. She instead asked them why, as individuals, and as a society, we believe that the way to solve a problem is by “killing it.” She was asking if punishment is logical, and if it works. She let the kids find their own way to answer."
prison  incarceration  prisons  2019  mariamekaba  ruthwilsongilmore  geography  policy  justice  prisonabolition  abolitionists  restorativejustice  socialjustice  transformativejustice  activism  punishment  vengeance  angeladavis  mikedavis  cedricobinson  barbarasmith  prisonindustrialcomplex  neilsmith  carceralgeography  bethrichie  society  rachelkushner 
5 hours ago by robertogreco
Thinking about how to abolish prisons with Mariame Kaba: podcast & transcript
"Does anybody go to their local prison and say, "Tell me how many people have left here and are okay and aren't doing things in the community." Nothing. You don't ask the cops for results. We don't ask anybody for results. They're not responsible for coming with an evaluation plan to show how they've used the money. They get unlimited money every single year, more and more and more money, no questions asked. How come that system gets to operate with impunity in that kind of way? And you're asking nonprofit groups on the ground who sometimes are not even nonprofits, just community groups in their neighborhoods, moms sitting on chairs... When they are trying to get a $10,000 grant, to show that they're going to end all violence within five years.

So the whole entire system is set up to actually be just unbalanced in terms of where the energy should be put, in terms of telling that system that is doing the wrong thing, rather than advancing the alternative.

CHRIS HAYES: And it's also not doing... People are victims and perpetrators of —


CHRIS HAYES: Violence —

MARIAME KABA: All the time.

CHRIS HAYES: It's extremely important for us, in the stories we tell about violence and crime, to basically have cops and robbers.

MARIAME KABA: Good people.

CHRIS HAYES: There's a category over here... And the fact is all people —

MARIAME KABA: We're all both.

CHRIS HAYES: Are all both.

MARIAME KABA: That's very uncomfortable to talk about loudly.

CHRIS HAYES: Are perpetrators and —

MARIAME KABA: That we all harm people and we've all been harmed. Now the degrees are different, our accountability is different. But we're all both. Danielle Sered has a new book out right now, who runs Common Justice here in Brooklyn. And Common Justice is the only program I know of that works with adults to divert adults from prison to the community for violent crimes. So they're doing it. The thing, "I can't wrap my brain around..." Well, they're doing it. Okay? Are they getting $172 billion to do this? No.

What Danielle says in her new book is that no one enters violence for the first time having committed it. Meaning that something happened to you that led to that other form of violence of you either lashing out, using violence, because that's how you learned how to be whatever. No one enters violence for the first time having committed it.

And just that very important thing should condition all of our responses to everything. And it's not. It doesn't. It's the binary. You did something wrong. You're a bad person. You did something ... We all do bad things. We all do bad things. Whether it's out in the open and we acknowledge those things, or we're keeping it to ourselves because we know it's bad and we don't want to be ostracized or disposed of things like that. So we all do that. And I just think that's what transformative and restorative justice allow. They allow for people to be both.

CHRIS HAYES: But there's also... Just to push back slightly —

MARIAME KABA: Of course.

CHRIS HAYES: There's a hierarchy of harm, you know what I mean?

MARIAME KABA: There is. We talked about that. We have different levels of bad things, degrees of bad things, but let me just tell you also, the people who are least likely to cause the same harm again are people who've killed somebody. I know nobody wants to hear that, but it's because it's very hard to kill people. Contrary to what television tells you about serial killers, those images of crime, those crime shows that have literally polluted so many people's brains in this country.

Contrary to that, if you kill somebody, it is such a massively traumatic thing to have done to another person. Unless you are somebody who is evil without any sort of conscience, you are holding that the rest of your life. Go to any prison. And I've been to many, and I've actually taught in prisons, particularly a young people in juvenile facilities. When somebody killed somebody else, the level of remorse for that is something that is inexplicable to somebody who hasn't experienced it and done that.

So this notion that people are just "sociopaths," which I don't like to use that term either because it's very complicated and not directly linked in terms of mental health and violence. The ideas that people offer out there in the general public often take away that idea, the idea of that harm being so traumatic to the person who harmed you, too.

CHRIS HAYES: I mean the literature of army training, this is this sort of thing that happens. There's this famous study and I think it happens in World War II, in which they find out that a huge amount of soldiers are never firing their guns.

MARIAME KABA: Because it's so hard to kill somebody.

CHRIS HAYES: And they're like, "Oh my God, what's going on?" And the answer is, it's actually very hard—

MARIAME KABA: To kill somebody.

CHRIS HAYES: To overcome. And the training in the United States Armed Services uses that to get around that natural moral resistance that we have.

MARIAME KABA: As human beings, it is hard for us to kill other people. That sounds like an anathema.

CHRIS HAYES: It does. Because the whole idea of the model is thin blue line. That basically we're always on the edge of chaos, anarchy, and violence. And that the cops and the system are the thing that ... that’s literally what they say.

MARIAME KABA: Are the thing that stops it from happening. They're the line between us and savagery and anarchy. And that is a lie, because we know that by talking to people who've harmed other people very seriously, who often are desperate for an attempt to try to be accountable for that. They want a chance to talk to the families of the people they harmed because they want to talk to those people, because accountability is a form of healing. To say you did something and it was terrible, and now you're serving 50 years in prison with no chance of getting out. You want to be able to go to sleep at night.

CHRIS HAYES: I 1,000 percent agree with you that the storytelling and the policy rationale of the actual system is built out from the most extreme examples outward, right? So the pop cultural representations, the way we think about it like monsters, sociopaths, these immoral remorseless killers.

MARIAME KABA: But the question is, what about the remorseless?

CHRIS HAYES: That's where I'm going.

MARIAME KABA: And my thing is, I'm going to tell you right now that the remorseless killer who is caught is probably currently locked up for life. Right? Because that's where they're going to end up. My thing is within the new paradigm of a world that I envision, because so many things will have been different, because people will have had their needs met from the time they're a kid.

CHRIS HAYES: How did that remorseless killer get built?

MARIAME KABA: How did they get built? And so my thing is, I think we're going to shift the paradigm in the end so that we have less "remorseless" people. And so we're going to find a different way to handle those people who cannot in good conscience be within our regular society. But it doesn't have to be a prison. It doesn't have to be the prison as we've created it.

So that's the answer for me to that, which is we're going to figure it out. We're going to figure it out. But for now, most people who are locked up are not those people. For now, most people who are...

CHRIS HAYES: That is — I want to just be clear on the record — I 1,000 percent agree with that.

MARIAME KABA: So let's let all those people out tomorrow and then let's argue over the rest, while we're changing the other things that happen. And I'm going to say one last thing about this, which is the reason I can't get behind the right's criminal punishment reform models is not because they're on the right. It's because they refuse to fund and address all the things on the front end that would make the back end not possible. Because what they're doing is saying, "We need shorter sentences for some people, not everybody. We need a better re-entry system by which people get training for jobs that don't exist based on not having been educated from the time they were in the fourth grade in the first place."

So we just fundamentally have an ideological completely different view of how the world operates. In that way, I don't want Newt Gingrich out there doing criminal punishment reform. That is very antithetical to most of the reformers you're seeing out there right now. Who value the "bipartisan" stupid policy.

No. I want them to fund our schools, to allow us to have a planet. I want them to be able to give universal health care to people, because I believe that all those things, will make all the other stuff that were "working on" in criminal punishment reform less likely to occur."
mariamekaba  chrishayes  prisons  incarceration  police  lawenforcement  2019  prisonabolition  abolition  law  legal  restorativejustice  punishment  elizabethwarren  donaldtrump  wrath  accountability  justice  socialjustice  transformativejustice  crime  prisonindustrialcomplex  violence  paulmanafort  politics  policy  anger  remorse  hierarchy  systemsthinking  inequality  race  racism  nyc  education  mindchanging  domesticviolence  patriarchy  feminism 
3 days ago by robertogreco
Justice in America Episode 20: Mariame Kaba and Prison Abolition - The Appeal
"On the last episode of Season 2, Josie and Clint discuss prison abolition with Mariame Kaba, one of the leading organizers in the fight against America’s criminal legal system and a contributing editor for The Appeal. Mariame discusses her own journey into this work, provides perspective on the leaders in this space, and helps us reimagine what the future of this system could look like. Mariame’s way of thinking about this system, and the vision of possibilities she provides, is an excellent send-off to our second season."

[full transcript on page]

"I grew up in New York City and came of age in 1980s. So, um, when I was coming of age in the city, it was kind of the early eighties were a fraught moment for many different kinds of reasons. The tail end of deinstitutionalization. So the first time where we actually started seeing homeless people outside on the streets. Michael Stewart was killed by the police in 1983 which was a very big moment for me. I was 12 years old and that really impacted me. My, um, older siblings were very animated by that fact. Um, crack cocaine is coming into being, this is the time of ACT UP. Um, this is when Reagan comes to power. It was a very tumultuous period and moment of time. So coming of age in that time led me to start organizing for racial justice as a teenager. And I also came of age during the time when there was the Bensonhurst case where a young black man was pursued and then killed by a mob of white young people who were close to my age because he supposedly talked to a white girl in a way that people were not happy about. The Howard Beach incident comes up in 1986. There was a lot happening during my teenagers in the city and I did not have an analysis of the criminal punishment system at that time. I just saw a lot of my friends, I grew up on the Lower East Side, so a lot of my friends ending up in juvie and then in prison and I didn’t, and the cops were always in our neighborhood harassing people and I did not really put all these things together, but I had a frame that was a racial justice frame at a very young age, mainly because of my parents. My mom and my dad. Um, my father, who’d been a socialist in the anti-colonial struggles in Guinea. Like I had a politics at home, but all I understood was like they were coming after black people in multiple different kinds of ways. It wasn’t until I was older and I had come back from college, um, I went to school in Montreal, Canada, came back to the city right after, I was 20 years old when I graduated from college, came back to the city and got a job working in Harlem at the, um, Countee Cullen Library and then ended up teaching in Harlem. And it was there that I found out that all of my students were also getting enmeshed in the criminal punishment system. But I still didn’t have a really, like I didn’t have a politic about it. It wasn’t until a very tragic story that occurred with one of my students who ended up killing another one of my students that I became very clearly aware of the criminal punishment system cause they were going to try to, um, basically try him as an adult. The person who did the killing, he was only 16. And it was that incident that kind of propelled me into trying to learn about what the system was, what it was about. And it concurrently, it was also the time when I started to search for restorative justice because it occurred to me, in watching the family of my student who had been killed react to the situation, that they did not want punishment for the person who killed their daughter. They were, uh, they wanted some accountability and they were also talking about the fact that he did not want him charged as an adult."

"people who are practitioners of restorative justice see restorative justice as a philosophy and ideology, a framework that is much broader than the criminal punishment system. It is about values around how we treat each other in the world. And it’s about an acknowledgement that because we’re human beings, we hurt each other. We cause harm. And what restorative justice proposes is to ask a series of questions. Mostly the three that are kind of advanced by Howard Zehr, who is the person who about 40 years ago popularized the concept of restorative justice in the United States. He talks about since we want to address the violation in the relationships that were broken as a result of violence and harm, that you want to ask a question about who was hurt, that that is important to ask, that you want to ask then what are the obligations? What are the needs that emerge from that hurt? And then you want to ask the question of whose job is it to actually address the harm? And so because of that, those questions of what happened, which in the current adversarial system are incidental really, you know, it’s who did this thing, what rules were broken? How are we going to actually punish the people who broke the rules? And then whose role is it to do that? It’s the state’s. In restorative justice it’s: what happened? Talk about what happened, share what happened, discuss in a, you know, kind of relational sense what happened. And then it’s what are your needs? Would do you need as a result of this? Because harms engender needs that must be met, right? So it asks you to really think that through. And then it says, you know, how do we repair this harm and who needs to be at the table for that to happen. It invites community in. It invites other people who were also harmed because we recognize that the ripples of harm are beyond the two individuals that were involved, it’s also the broader community and the society at large. So that’s what restorative justice, at its base, is really the unit of concern is the broken relationship and the harm. Those are the focus of what we need to be addressing. And through that, that obviously involves the criminal punishment system. In many ways RJ has become co-opted by that system. So people were initially proponents of restorative justice have moved their critique away from using RJ and talking about instead transformative justice. That’s where you see these breakdowns occurring because the system has taken on RJ now as quote unquote “a model for restitution.”"

"Restorative justice and transformative justice, people say they’re interchangeable sometimes, they are not. Because transformative justice people say that you cannot actually use the current punishing institutions that exist. Whereas RJ now is being run in prisons, is being run in schools. Institutions that are themselves violently punishing institutions are now taking that on and running that there. And what people who are advocates of transformative justice say is RJ, because of its focus on the individual, the intervention is on individuals, not the system. And what transformative justice, you know, people, advocates and people who have kind of begun to be practitioners in that have said is we have to also transform the conditions that make this thing possible. And restoring is restoring to what? For many people, the situation that occurred prior to the harm had lots of harm in it. So what are we restoring people to? We have to transform those conditions and in order to do that we have to organize, to shift the structures and the systems and that will also be very important beyond the interpersonal relationships that need to be mended."

"I reject the premise of restorative and transformative justice being alternatives to incarceration. I don’t reject the premise that we should prefigure the world in which we want to live and therefore use multiple different kinds of ways to figure out how to address harm. So here’s what I mean, because people are now saying things like the current criminal punishment system is broken, which it is not. It is actually operating exactly as designed. And that’s what abolition has helped us to understand is that the system is actually relentlessly successful at targeting the people it wants and basically getting the outcomes that wants from that. So if you understand that to be the case, then you are in a position of very much understanding that every time we use the term “alternative to incarceration” what comes to your mind?"

"You’re centering the punishing system. When I say alternative to prison, all you hear is prison. And what that does is that it conditions your imagination to think about the prison as the center. And what we’re saying as transformative and restorative justice practitioners is that the prison is actually an outcome of a broader system of violence and harm that has its roots in slavery and before colonization. And here we are in this position where all you then think about is replacing what we currently use prisons for, for the new thing. So what I mean by that is when you think of an alternative in this moment and you’re thinking about prison, you just think of transposing all of the things we currently consider crimes into that new world."

"It has to fit that sphere. But here’s what I, I would like to say lots of crimes are not harmful to anybody."

"And it’s also that we’re in this position where not all crimes are harms and not all harms are actually crimes. And what we are concerned with as people who practice restorative and transformative justice is harm across the board no matter what. So I always tell people when they say like, ‘oh, we’re having an alternative to incarceration or alternative to prison.’ I’m like, okay, what are you decriminalizing first? Do we have a whole list of things? So possession of drugs is a criminal offense right now. I don’t want an alternative to that. I want you to leave people the hell alone."

"Transformative justice calls on us to shatter binaries of all different types. Most of the people who currently are locked up, for example, in our prisons and jails, are people who are victims of crime first. They’ve been harmed and have harmed other people. The “perpetrator,” quote unquote… [more]
mariamekaba  clintsmith  josieduffyrice  prisonindustrialcomplex  prisions  violence  restorativejustice  justice  prisonabolition  punishment  2019  angeladavis  howardzehr  incarceration  community  humans  transformativejustice  harm  racism  responsibility  repair  people  carceralstate  binaries  accountability  police  lawenforcement  jails  coercion  gender  criminalization  humanism  decency  humanity  transformation  survival  bodies  abolition  abolitionists  nilschristie  ruthiegilmore  fayeknopp  presence  absence  systemsthinking  systems  complexity  capitalism  climatechange  climate  globalwarming  livingwage  education  organization  organizing  activism  change  changemaking  exploitation  dehumanization  optimism 
28 days ago by robertogreco
Prison Culture » Thinking Through the End of Police…
"Many people are more afraid of imagining a world without police than one without prisons. This seems especially true for people who consider themselves to be progressive. I don’t have the time, energy or inclination to write in depth about abolishing the police right now. But I’ve been asked a lot for ‘resources’ on the topic. To be honest, I’m crabby about offering those too. This is because what people usually mean by “resources” is a step-by-step guide or program. Well, that doesn’t exist because building a world without police is actually a collective project that will also mean that many, many other things will need to change too. That’s not a satisfying answer for people who don’t actually want to think and most importantly who think it’s “other people’s” responsibility to come up with “alternatives.”

Rinaldo Walcott offers a start for those looking for the right questions to ask about abolishing the police:
“We need broad based discussions about the future of modern policing and what it is really for.

We need to imagine a time when police are not needed. In the interim we need to disarm the police.

We must require police to work in communities they live in and make them accountable to communities they police.

We need to work towards forms of being in community where conflict is resolved within communities and where resolution is not necessarily oriented towards punishment.

These ways of being are not beyond us, indeed these ways of being are shared by many among us.

We need only recognize and acknowledge that such knowledge exists and the practice is doable.

In essence, any moral and ethical society willing to confront the deeper reasons why policing exist at all would be working towards its abolition.”

On another day when I am feeling less tired and more generous, I might write something that summarizes my ideas and thoughts on the matter. But not today…

So for now, here are a very few readings to help those who are interested in abolishing the police to think more deeply about the possibilities…"

[See also:

"I can't tell you how many messages I'm getting about these posters. I can't respond to all of them so I am going to comment on the biggest critiques (that are so important to acknowledge and address) and then refer back to this status.

1. "X solution can be oppressive" - Absolutely true. Any of the solutions named in the graphics could be enacted in oppressive ways. In order for these solutions to be implemented in the way they were imagined, the people implementing them must do so with an anti-oppressive (empowering) lens, outside of the systems and institutions currently oppressing people. I highly recommend anyone considering replacing policing, study Transformative Justice and its principles, study the work of anti-oppressive community organizers, especially those who are or have been marginalized.

These posters require us to imagine a better world, one in which the resources people need in order to address the root causes of violence and harm (oppression, exploitation) are collectively provided: free housing, free healthcare, and the preservation of our planet; and white supremacy is eliminated.

2. "Sometimes we need police in situations of life threatening violence" (or, "This would only work if you weren't directly experiencing violence in the moment) - There may be times of immediate life threatening violence in which a defensive organization is necessary to save lives (such as mass shootings, for example). Those people do not need to be the police, and we can envision all kinds of organizations that would be dedicated to liberation, self-determination, preservation of life, and using force as an absolute last resort. Such organizations would ideally be controlled / organized / held accountable by the people most impacted by violence.

3. "I have had to call the police to save my life." - Yes. Same. And this is not condemning anyone for using the tools that currently exist to save their own life. And it is absolutely harmful and violent that in our society the only means we have to save our lives in violent situations is to call the police and initiate a system of incarceration that does not hear our voices, address our needs, seek actual justice, resolve the root causes of violence, or seek to support us as people experiencing violence. It is harmful that our only option is to expose other people to the possibility of having their life or their freedom taken by the police or prisons. We need other options.

4. "Police are people too." - Yes, and their personhood does not mean that their profession, nor the power that is granted to them in that profession, needs to continue in order for their humanity to be recognized. Policing is harmful and violent and therefore must lose its power in society. Taking that power from individual officers is not a denial of their humanity.

5. "Why can't we just reform policing" - Read Alex Vitale's book "The End of Policing" for a detailed answer to this question - it's really good.

6. "What does Taking Accountability mean?" - In Transformative Justice practice, "Taking Accountability" means that the person who has done harm receives support in changing their behavior, takes responsibility for what they've done, takes steps to repair the harm done according to the wishes and needs of the person who was harmed, and changes their behavior. It also means that the community asks why the person caused harm in the first place (what the "root cause" of harm is), such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare, social isolation, or other unmet needs. The community is responsible for addressing the causes of harm that are cultural and social.

Not everyone is willing to take accountability for their actions of course (we need a major cultural shift to make this more likely), and in the case that the person who did harm does not choose to take accountability, it means that the community takes collective action to prevent that person from doing harm again, such as spreading awareness about the harm, doing education about how to prevent that harm, and intervening where and when the harm is happening so that the person can no longer successfully do so. It means protecting each other in ways that reduce harm, rather than produce it.

For more info about Transformative Justice here is a hand out comparing it to other forms of justice:

Here is a reading list:

Here is a link every single person should click:

7. "Can I share these with x" Yes, you can share the images however you want. Here is a google drive with printable versions:

8. "I like all of these except the domestic violence one" - see all of the above and I highly recommend that people look into the work of Survived and Punished, an organization that specifically works with survivors of domestic and other violence who are then violently pulled into the policing and carceral system.

9. "Crisis Intervention Teams include police" - In these graphics, I am not using the term in the way it is used related to policing, I am using it as a name for a totally invented kind of team that would not in any way be connected to the police and would be staffed with people who are trained in anti-oppressive means of addressing conflicts. To be as clear as possible: I do not support any measure that would fund, reform, or employ police. And any of these solutions would require that people experiencing marginalization or oppression be empowered to collectively control the resources / services themselves.

These are the resources shared by the person who raised this concern, if anyone would like to look:

Alternatives to Police in Mental Health Crisis:

The Myth of Awareness Training "

posted here: ]


"Alternatives to police and punishment are real and tangible. Check out some of the great work from Luna Syenite, who has made them free to share. … #Harmreduction #treatmentnotprison #communitynotprisons"

"Imagine a world without police.... posters inspired by the work of @prisonculture and created by Luna Syenite ( …) #AbolishICE #AbolishThePolice"

"As a follow up see: …... which also features @projectnia & @prisonculture. We can change the way resources are allocated to change outcomes. Police & prisons aren't the only solutions. #AbolishICE #AbolishThePolice #ServicesNotSentences" ]
activism  police  policing  prison  mariamekaba  rinaldowalcott  2014  reference  resources  publicsafety  lunasyenite 
july 2018 by robertogreco
#GeniusTweeter on Twitter: "The Midwest Academy Manual for Activist quotes a consultant who was speaking to a group of corporate executives about some of the *tricks* your opponents will use against you.…"
"The Midwest Academy Manual for Activists [ ] quotes a consultant who was speaking to a group of corporate executives about some of the *tricks* your opponents will use against you.
The authors describe it as: "You are reasonable but your allies aren't. Can, we just deal with you?"... In this tactic, institutions resisting change can divide coalitions, decreasing their power and tempering their demands, by bringing those who have the most invested in the status quo into the Inner circle" to negotiate, in theory, for the full group's interests..? Lawyers often have an easier time getting meetings with decision makers precisely because we are seen as more "reasonable," i.e., amenable to the status quo, and we are too often tempted to accept this access rather than insisting on solidarity with more radical leaders from affected communities...

The manual quotes a consultant speaking to a group of corporate executives to explain this tactic,
Activists fall into three basic categories: radicals, idealists, and realists. The first step is to isolate and marginalize the radicals. They're the ones who see inherent structural problems that need remedying if indeed a particular change is to occur..' The goal is to sour the idealists on the idea of working with the radicals. Instead, get them working with the realists. Realists are people who want reform, but don't really want to upset the status quo; big public interest organizations that rely on foundation grants and corporate contributions are a prime example. With correct handling, realists can be counted on to cut a deal with industry that can be touted as a 'win-win" solution, but that is actually an industry victory.

"There's more to what the consultant advises the corporate executives:
"To isolate them (the radicals), try to create the perception in the public mind that people advocating fundamental solutions are terrorists, extremists, fear mongers, outsiders, communists, or whatever.+"

"After marginalizing the radicals, then identify and educate the idealists - concerned and sympathetic members of the public -- by convincing them that changes advocated by the radicals would hurt people."" ]
idealists  idealism  activism  activists  radicals  radicalism  radicalists  centrists  statusquo  elitism  policy  politics  institutions  corporatism  democrats  republicans  marginalization  race  racism  cooption  power  control  corporations  law  lawyers  solidarity  leadership  reform  change  changemaking  fear  outsiders  communists  communism  inequality  oppression  perpetuation  terrorism  extremism  perception  messaging  mariamekaba 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Beyond Prisons #19: Hope Is A Discipline feat. Mariame Kaba
"In Episode 19 of Beyond Prisons, hosts Brian Sonenstein and Kim Wilson catch up with activist, writer, and educator Mariame Kaba.

Mariame shares her experiences advocating on behalf of Bresha Meadows, a teenage girl who killed her abusive father and was detained while facing the possibility of trial as an adult and a lifetime of incarceration. She recount’s Bresha’s story and explains how activists worked to make sure the family’s needs were met and help them navigate the collateral consequences of detention, including an enormous financial burden and the shame and stigma that makes people internalize their struggle.

Mariame explains how children who are abused face limited options and harsh punishment for trying to escape their abusers and even harsher punishment for defending themselves. She talks about the racialized aspect of this arrangement, and how black children are dehumanized and not seen as children but as criminals in training.

She discusses the work that Survived and Punished put into assembling a tool kit to help people who are victims of abuse and are criminalized for survival actions. The tool kit has information on what the group thinks works for supporting immigrant survivors, trans survivors, how to engage with the media and legal teams, how to raise money and build a base of support, and more. Their website also has interviews and videos that provide more information.

Mariame reacts to a common question asked of abolitionists, which is what to do about people who have caused serious harm to others. She talks about the fear of criminals in society and the severe misperceptions among the public of who is incarcerated and what it means to be in prison. The effectiveness of prison as a tool to fight sexual violence, murder, and other serious crimes is questioned.

The conversation continues with Mariame’s view of abolition as a collective project that embraces people who sense there is a problem with American institutions and are interested in figuring out what to do about it. She explains what she means when she says hope is a discipline, not an emotion or sense of optimism, and how this informs her organizing. Self care is examined as a community project. Finally, Mariame shares what books are on her shelf and what she’s reading right now.

Mariame Kaba is an organizer, educator, and curator. Her work focuses on ending violence, dismantling the prison industrial complex, transformative justice, and supporting youth leadership development. She is the founder and director of Project NIA, a grassroots organization with a vision to end youth incarceration. She was a member of the editorial board for Violence Against Women: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal from January 2003 to December 2008. She was a founding advisory board member of the Chicago Community Bond Fund and she’s a member of the Critical Resistance community advisory board. Kaba currently organizes with the Survived and Punished collective and, in addition to organizing and serving many other organizations, she is an educator and also runs the blog Prison Culture."
mariamekaba  children  youth  incarceration  briansonenstein  kimwilson  abuse  breshameadows  prison  violence 
january 2018 by robertogreco
'More Justice and Some Peace': Mariame Kaba on Ending America's Violence | Broadly
"Last year, she moved back to New York, where she has continued her work of ending violence in its myriad forms. To her, that means ending prisons, ending white supremacy, ending gender-based violence, ending economic inequality, and ultimately ending capitalism. It is, of course, a tall order. Over the phone, Kaba says she simply tries to fill it piece by piece, with as many people as possible fighting alongside her. She currently organizes with Survived and Punished, bringing attention to victims of domestic violence who have been incarcerated for fighting back against their attackers.

"I don't think you can make change as a lone ranger. That's why you see myself and others building so many organizations. And when those organizations and containers are no longer needed, you end those and then you do something else." she said. "You need organization because people need containers for the work and we need each other's backs. Ella Baker used to always say, 'Martin didn't make the movement. The movement made Martin.' [Individuals] actually transform things with a base of people who are working their asses off. That's how it works."

Most recently, she invigorated the push for "Medicare for All" by starting a campaign to get both state legislatures and congressional representatives to support single-payer health care. It is at once a concrete demand and way of envisioning a positive future. In the face of the Affordable Care Act being dismantled by Donald Trump and the Republicans, Medicare for All goes beyond simply defending existing benefits and asserts that everyone has a right to health and life. Indeed, all of Kaba's efforts consciously intersect and try to build a world with, as she often tweets, "more justice and some peace."

If you find yourself wondering what to do next as Donald Trump's horrible presidency only gets worse, Kaba's organizing is instructive: Engage on a local level, find ways to support your community, build new institutions, and think about what you are working toward—not just resisting. I talked with Kaba about how she does just that."

"I have a hard time focusing on [Trump] in particular. Trump really does not care about Chicago. Chicago is not a real place for him. Chicago is a metaphor for him that he's able to use in his fevered, racist project. Addressing what he has to say about Chicago just feels like falling into a trap. He doesn't see people who live in the city as people. They're just abstractions to be weaponized to maintain white supremacy. There's just no question about how that is playing itself out in all ways. You're seeing it as a through-line in all his policies.

Chicago is a city that is ground zero of the neoliberal experiment led by Democrats over a long period of time. They were trying to figure out and test out their policies of privatization in multiple ways. They closed dozens and dozens of schools over a 20-year period. They defunded public services like public mental health clinics. That is itself violence, and to expect that that is not going to lead to interpersonal violence in those communities is nuts. They just want to point their finger at an individual young person and raise the penalties against that young person. For years in Chicago, the mayor has had an obsession with increasing the mandatory minimums for gun possession. Empirical data has said that that is not the way forward, but they still want to do it. When I was in Chicago we spent four years in a row fighting against that mandatory minimum gun bill. It will probably pass this year because people are so whipped up into frenzy about crime. The same failed policies from the past get repeated as though they are brand new. And the public doesn't have the energy to follow it closely enough. They're scared. They don't have the energy. They're taken by the fear-mongering. People have some legitimate, real concerns as well. Some young people are being put into harm's way by other people with guns. They want people to feel safe. That's all understandable. Nobody wants their neighborhood to be a shooting gallery, but we just have to be smart about how we respond to these things. And people aren't."

"I kind of cringe when I hear the term self-care, for lots of reasons: the way that it's been commodified, the way it's a form of compulsory action. People do a lot of "are you doing self-care?" and it becomes, like, it's own work. People have made self-care a labor. To me that's really not useful, and for some people it's actually oppressive. It becomes it's own job. I'm interested in collectivizing our care. I'm interested in community care. We should take care of each other and help each other out. It's not an individual pursuit. Everything in this county is so fucking individualistic and so rooted in capitalism I can't stand it. Like, do I have hobbies? Yes. I knit. I watch dumb movies. I go out to dinner with people I love. I love to do lots of different kinds of things, and I don't see it as some special time that I'm carving out. I just see it as my life. Just like organizing is my life, and part of the rent that I pay to live on this planet.

I understand, though. I hear a lot of conversations around self-care and healing. I'm so happy that they pay attention to those things and try to center them in their own lives. On the one hand, I'm grateful to them for making sure they pay attention to that. In my generation this was not something that people focused on doing. But I have to admit to being super concerned by a lot of the language and how people are trying to operationalize and actualize self-care within capitalism. I also worry that it is going to become a new labor for people to undertake. So when you are in a position where you can't "self-care" the anxiety of not being able to do it becomes its own thing. I just think it shouldn't be that. I also think that struggle and organizing are also joys. It's not taxing labor all the time, and if it is you're probably doing it wrong."
mariamekaba  activism  violence  capitalism  organization  medicadeforall  healthcare  policy  grassroots  2017  self-care  socialjustice  collaboration  peace  racism  inequality  whitesupremacy 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Prison Culture » Podcast: Johnny Cash, Prison Reformer, Part 1
“I mean, I just don’t think prisons do any good. They put ’em in there and just make ’em worse, if they were ever bad in the first place, and then when they let ’em out they’re just better at whatever put ’em in there in the first place. Nothing good ever came out a prison. That’s all I’m trying to say.” – J. Cash

I’ve been obsessed with Johnny Cash since I first heard ‘Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison’ when I was 15 years old. I came upon the record quite by accident. I was at a friend’s apartment. Her father was an avid country music fan. He was playing the album while I happened to be visiting. It would be several years before I became an anti-prison activist. So at the time, it was the music rather than the song content or lyrics that piqued my interest.

For nearly a decade, my friend Sam and I have threatened to have a discussion about Cash, the man and his music, on radio. Well, we finally made it happen through a two part podcast.

I am so thrilled to share part 1 of our discussion with everyone today. Special thanks to my friend Sarah who was our engineer."

[part 2

"In this edition, we focus on Johnny as a prison reformer. We discuss his 1972 testimony before the Senate. Below is an excerpt from his testimony:
“I have been in the entertainment business now for 16 years and shortly after I began, I performed my first concert at a prison at the request of the inmates at Huntsville, Tex., State Prison. I went from there to Folsom, to San Quentin, to Arkansas State Prison, and I met many fine men, inmates, and the personnel who run the prisons in all of these places. And I found over a period of 17 years, I believe that possibly 25 percent of the men behind the bars really need to be in a prison.

I think that with the program to cover the man from the time he is
arrested all the way through his trial, conviction, his prison sentence and his parole, that there will me many less men actually admitted to prison to serve prison terms, to become a part of this outturn, of this incubator for crime in the systems.

I have seen and heard of things at some of the concerts that would chill the blood of the average citizen, but I think possibly the blood of the average citizen needs to be chilled in order for public apathy and conviction to come about because right now we have 1972 problems and 1872 jails. And like Governor Bumpers of Arkansas recently said, unless the public becomes aware and wants to and wants to help and becomes involved in prison reform and really cares, unless people begin to care, all of the money in the world will not help. Money cannot do the job. People have got to care in order for prison reform to come about.”
johnnycash  prisons  prisonreform  reform  activism  music  history  2016  protest  prisonculture  mariamekaba 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Itemizing Atrocity | Jacobin
"In her book Scenes of Subjection, Saidiya Hartman writes:
Rather than try to convey the routinized violence of slavery and its aftermath through invocations of the shocking and the terrible, I have chosen to look elsewhere and consider those scenes in which terror can hardly be discerned … By defamiliarizing the familiar, I hope to illuminate the terror of the mundane and quotidian rather than exploit the shocking spectacle.

Hartman’s emphasis on “the terror of the mundane and quotidian” is her attempt to address the dilemma of black people having their suffering (un)seen and (un)heard by non-blacks — including those who purport to care:
At issue here is the precariousness of empathy … how does one give expression to these outrages without exacerbating the indifference to suffering that is the consequence to the benumbing spectacle or contend with the narcissistic identification that obliterates the other or the prurience that too often is the response to such displays? This was the challenge faced by [Frederick] Douglass and other foes of slavery…

A century and a half after Douglass fought against slavery, the police have become more militarized in terms of weapons, tanks, training, and gear. SWAT teams have been deployed at an accelerated rate and for an increased number of activities. Reports, like the one recently published by the ACLU, provide some details about these technologies of war amassed by local police departments.

Julilly Kohler-Hausmann, Radley Balko, and others have explained that the militarization of US police can be traced back to the mid-1960s. For example, in 1968, urban police forces were able to buy new equipment and technologies thanks to funding from the newly passed Safe Streets Act. The social anxiety and fear engendered by the Vietnam War and domestic urban rebellions led by black people provided license for the police to turn these new products on the marginalized populations of inner-city America.

SWAT teams, batterrams, and no-knock warrants (immortalized by Gil Scott Heron and written about by James Baldwin), all predate contemporary hyper-militarized police forces. Black people have been the overwhelming targets of these instruments of war."

"Attention is drawn to the “spectacular event” rather than to the point of origin or the mundane. Circulated are the spectacles — dead black bodies lying in the streets or a black teenager ambushed by several police officers in military gear, automatic weapons drawn.

Along with these dramatic images, numbers and statistics are the main metric for soliciting empathy and galvanizing people into action.

It is the size and power of the gun. It is the number of cops at the scene. It is the tank pointed at protestors. It is the forty-one bullets shot at a black immigrant standing in his doorway. The eight to ten times a black teenager was shot “like an animal” when walking to see his relatives or the four hours his body laid in the street while family members and neighbors watched and waited helplessly. The at least eleven times a black woman was punched by a cop straddling her on the side of a highway. The over two minutes a forty-eight-year-old black woman, half-naked, was kept in the hallway and surrounded by about a dozen cops after being dragged out of her apartment. The number of black people stopped and frisked."

"How does black suffering register when we are told that it is the militarization of the police that is the problem? Again, Hartman is instructive, writing of “the narcissistic identification that obliterates the other.” It is true that militarization is a global phenomenon. It is true that the United States and its allied countries enforce their brutal agendas throughout the world through military force, sanctions, and “the war on terror.”

It is also true that, despite the black diaspora’s effort to emphasize what happens to black people worldwide (including in the United States), references to globalization, militarization, and the war on terror are often treated as markers of non-blackness — and among some progressives, as code for “needing to go beyond black and white” or for blacks in the United States to not be so “US-centric” (read: “self-absorbed”)."

"Relatedly, the push for coalition and the use of analogies suggests a difficulty to name precisely what black people experience in the United States. Scenes of police violence against blacks in Ferguson seemingly become more legible, more readable and coherent, when put into conversation with Iraq or Gaza. And yet something gets lost in translation.

The sentiments — “I thought I was looking at pictures of Iraq but I was looking at America!” or “Ferguson=Gaza” or “now [blacks in the United States] know how the Third World feels” — circulate on social media. Such statements express a belief in American exceptionalism and a certain amount of glee and resentment towards African-Americans while professing empathy.

Amid this, we are left with the difficulty to name both the spectacle and the quotidian violence blacks in the United States experience day after day, from the police and the racially deputized. What do we call this incessant violence? How do we describe it beyond the “spectacular event”? Occupation? War? Genocide? Life? Death?

We conclude with more questions: How do we rightfully account for the increased militarization of the police as a problem without forgetting what Joy James reminds us: “the dreams and desires of a society and state will be centered on the control of the black body” — or as Jared Sexton emphasizes: blacks serve as “the prototypical targets of the panoply of police practices and the juridical infrastructure built up around them?”

How do we contend with Wilderson’s assertion that “white people are not simply ‘protected’ by the police. They are — in their very corporeality — the police?” What does all this mean when we think about hyper-militarized police forces that weaponize white supremacy against black bodies and the specter of blackness among others? How does it feel to be the prototypical target?

What do the spectacles of policing — as well as the responses to it — both reveal and camouflage in regard to the “terror of the mundane and quotidian,” a terror that is often taken for granted, even in critical commentary?"
us  2014  tamaranopper  mariamekaba  saidiva  hartman  empathy  mundane  quotidian  slow  small  race  police  atrocity  indifference  suffering  globalization  militarization  spectacle 
august 2014 by robertogreco

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