abolitionist

A very interesting piece about prison abolition in the NYT. Centering on Ruth Wilson Gilmore an US advocate for the abolition of prison sentences and a geographer at Berkeley. Interesting because the very notion of abolition sounds anathema to many and I rarely meet people sharing the conviction that prison sentences are counter-productive, often in a major way. And not only at a philosophical (à la Foucault) or utopian (à la Thomas More) level, quite the opposite in that Gilmore also fight all the myths attached to incarcerated populations in the US, from the inmates being most non-violent drug traffickers to them being relatively innocent, to them being mostly black, to them providing cheap labour… The article also draw a convincing parallel between the sharp rise in incarceration and desindustrialisation in the 1970’s. (And also the rise in the incarceration rhetoric as a political campaign cheap argument.) And the way Gilmore (along with Angela Davis) involves the local communities against the building of new jails based on local needs rather than philosophical or ethical arguments… She clearly has an impact at this local level, but it is harder to see whether the society as a whole is moving towards different and more efficient and more productive ways of handling crime and violence.

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