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  #1  
Old 02-14-2018, 03:20 PM
cien cien is offline
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Default We should start pushing for Prison Abolition

In my book club, we've been reading 'Are Prisons Obsolete' by Angela Davis. This book has really opened my eyes, I thought prisons are and always have been a fact of life, but to my surprise, they're a fairly new concept.

As activists I think that we need to push abolition, prison systems don't deter crime, they don't rehabilitate "criminals". They make prison profiteers like Corecivic, and prison suppliers rich.

We need to focus the funds that are going into the expanding prison system into rehabilitation programs, social programs and figure out a transformative justice system that doesn't lock humans in cages like animals.
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Old 02-14-2018, 03:28 PM
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I haven't read the book, but it sounds interesting. Curious how they define "new concept".

My immediate reaction is that's a bit extreme and you're going to have a hard time fighting the profit margin that incarceration supports in this country.

But...starting with small bites, pour your energy into reform, rehab programs, collecting data to support the idea of rehab over confinement, ect.
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Old 02-14-2018, 04:16 PM
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There is also the people that really can't function in society and pose a real risk to everyone ..what do we do with them? The sociopathic ..narcissistic people that take pleasure in causing harm to others..this is admittedly a minority of offenders but they are the really scary ones..where do they go in a prison free society? Maybe the book addresses this ..if so I'd love to hear the response.
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Old 02-14-2018, 04:50 PM
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I haven't read the book, but it sounds interesting. Curious how they define "new concept".

My immediate reaction is that's a bit extreme and you're going to have a hard time fighting the profit margin that incarceration supports in this country.

But...starting with small bites, pour your energy into reform, rehab programs, collecting data to support the idea of rehab over confinement, ect.
Prisons came about as a reform from the corporal punishment system used in England. Reformers at the time thought that long sentences of isolation and time would make prisoners reflect and atone for their crimes.

Detention usually was only reserved for those awaiting death after trial.

Also the book is available in pdf form for free
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Old 02-14-2018, 04:53 PM
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There is also the people that really can't function in society and pose a real risk to everyone ..what do we do with them? The sociopathic ..narcissistic people that take pleasure in causing harm to others..this is admittedly a minority of offenders but they are the really scary ones..where do they go in a prison free society? Maybe the book addresses this ..if so I'd love to hear the response.
Many people point to these people to justify the whole system. I don't have an answer to this beside that many people that display anti-social behaviors have undiagnosed mental health issues that could be made better through treatment or therapy.

I feel that even if there are people who are hopelessly corrupt and criminal, it still doesn't justify the prison system.
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Old 02-14-2018, 05:02 PM
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Prisons came about as a reform from the corporal punishment system used in England. Reformers at the time thought that long sentences of isolation and time would make prisoners reflect and atone for their crimes.

Detention usually was only reserved for those awaiting death after trial.

Also the book is available in pdf form for free
Awesome that's it's available for free! I'll look for it.

And yes, that's what I was thinking about the history of prisons. And in that regard, we have to acknowledge that the world, and the ways in which human interaction/sociology has evolved means we can't say that we can easily revert to pre-prison era techniques. But, again, I haven't read it and may it addresses this. Thanks for bringing it up!
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Old 02-14-2018, 05:35 PM
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Some people deserve to be in prison. My issue is that since Reagan and the other politicians who followed him used fear, the great motivator, to accelerate the war on drugs and petty crimes, America now incarcerates ten times as many citizens as were locked up when he made the speech. That was accomplished by more crimes on the books, more police, more judges, more prosecutors and especially more prisons (public and now "private" too) and also by the absolute disaster of "zero tolerance" policing/mandatory minimum sentences.

If all of the people who are in prison for non violent victimless crimes (like marijuana possession; one California DA just dismissed thousands of pending cases because of the vote to legalize pot for adults there), prisons would once again be used to keep dangerous criminals away from the rest of us.

Incarceration increased exponentially, so it could technically be reduced the same way. Fear mongering politicians and prison profiteers won't allow that to happen.
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Old 02-14-2018, 08:00 PM
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I'm right there with fbopnomore and miamac. There are some people (in every society and tribe) who are not safe around others. End of discussion. The sociopaths and narcissistic are a combination of genetics and environment, but we can lower the numbers only by having a rather rigorously constructed social net that keeps the environment from being a Petri dish for their development (and I don't know how you'd build that and still allow for individual liberties) or a breeding registry (which is never ever going to fly).

The other problem is weaning people off the idea of vengeance and the money generated by all the jobs currently created by prisons.

And then there's the lead time....it would require an investment of untold billions to bring people out of severe poverty and increase the levels of their abysmal schools' teaching and physical plants. And then you start to increase the number of social workers/therapists inside that system. That increases the probable positive outcomes, and starts to decrease the necessity for prisons/courts/judges/police. But the change-over and the displacement of prison guards, vengeance, prison suppliers, court officers etc., into the safety net workers will require both interest and funding of both systems for a while.

It's a huge lift for a society as hell-bent on vengeance and 'individual' rights and development. It requires some sophistication, some testing to be sure the results won't create anarchy, and we aren't there. Not yet. Maybe in time.
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Old 02-14-2018, 10:58 PM
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I'll think about the people who belong in prison later.

First things first. There are people who aren't dangerous at all. Then there are people who are dangerous for fixable reasons. Like the woman I read about who started pulling knives on people to pay for her addiction. In the same place every time every night. You don't have to be a shrink to know she wanted to get caught.

Yes, I could ask an abolitionist "What about Charles Campbell?". but for every one of him there's thousands of "conspiracy to distribute" cases who may not even have done anything.

First things first. Texas and other places have proved that you can let a lot of people out of prison and not hurt public safety.
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:33 PM
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I'll think about the people who belong in prison later.

First things first. There are people who aren't dangerous at all. Then there are people who are dangerous for fixable reasons. Like the woman I read about who started pulling knives on people to pay for her addiction. In the same place every time every night. You don't have to be a shrink to know she wanted to get caught.

Yes, I could ask an abolitionist "What about Charles Campbell?". but for every one of him there's thousands of "conspiracy to distribute" cases who may not even have done anything.

First things first. Texas and other places have proved that you can let a lot of people out of prison and not hurt public safety.
Are you saying that the people that pulled knifes on people because of her addiction aren’t dangerous? Have you ever had a knife pulled on you from an addict looking for a fix? I have a hard time believing those people aren’t dangerous.
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Old 02-15-2018, 10:44 AM
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Are you saying that the people that pulled knifes on people because of her addiction aren’t dangerous? Have you ever had a knife pulled on you from an addict looking for a fix? I have a hard time believing those people aren’t dangerous.
"Dangerous for a fixable reason" means dangerous.
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Old 02-15-2018, 11:20 AM
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"Dangerous for a fixable reason" means dangerous.
“Fixable” for how long? What about people that relapse? How many chances do you give them? I don’t believe that we categorically refer to addicts as “fixed”.
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Old 02-15-2018, 03:25 PM
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breathe ... focus ... This is a thread about prison abolition not about how angry I am at being misrepresented(*).

If we abolish prisons, what do we do with Tried To Get Caught Lady and the thousands like her? What can we do to be as safe as we can without prisons?

It's got to include custody, care, and control, so whatever it is will be a lot like a prison.

Custody: I wouldn't feel comfortable unless her door locks from the outside. Something like a fire camp might work but without the threat of prison to keep her from walking away, well, never trust a drug addict. So maybe some kind of locked ward. It wouldn't require razor wire and guard towers with riflemen.

Care: This is going to be way different from today's prisons. It will need to be intensive, holistic, and evidence based and include every hour of every day. Expensive. So are prisons. So are medical bills for victims.

Control: She and the thousands like her will need to be under both more and less control than one of today's prisons. She could have Internet in her spare time (shouldn't be much spare time though). Urine samples would have to be frequent.

How many chances, how many relapses? Damn good question. It's a question that prisons don't answer. Unless we do LWOP for drug addicts they're going to keep coming back out. I'd feel a little safer if hopeless addicts went through a revolving door for rehab than a revolving door for prisons.

But all that's assuming we keep today's drug policy. I see prison abolition as requiring huge changes to everything else about society. That could include taking Portugal's approach to their drug problem. It could mean giving away buprenorphine and naloxone. It could mean outright legalization of even the worst drugs so that addicts would still wreck themselves but without stealing to afford black market prices. We used to have opium and cocaine over the counter. It was bad, but not as bad as what we have today. Radical? Heck yes.
You can't do just one radical thing, like abolishing prisons while keeping everything else the same.

(*) It's not about my encounter with somebody like that which has me still getting medical treatment two and a half months later. It's not about me still waking up in pain sometimes. It's not about how I feel after all that being the target of a patronizing lecture.
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Old 02-15-2018, 05:44 PM
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breathe ... focus ... This is a thread about prison abolition not about how angry I am at being misrepresented(*).

If we abolish prisons, what do we do with Tried To Get Caught Lady and the thousands like her? What can we do to be as safe as we can without prisons?

It's got to include custody, care, and control, so whatever it is will be a lot like a prison.

Custody: I wouldn't feel comfortable unless her door locks from the outside. Something like a fire camp might work but without the threat of prison to keep her from walking away, well, never trust a drug addict. So maybe some kind of locked ward. It wouldn't require razor wire and guard towers with riflemen.

Care: This is going to be way different from today's prisons. It will need to be intensive, holistic, and evidence based and include every hour of every day. Expensive. So are prisons. So are medical bills for victims.

Control: She and the thousands like her will need to be under both more and less control than one of today's prisons. She could have Internet in her spare time (shouldn't be much spare time though). Urine samples would have to be frequent.

How many chances, how many relapses? Damn good question. It's a question that prisons don't answer. Unless we do LWOP for drug addicts they're going to keep coming back out. I'd feel a little safer if hopeless addicts went through a revolving door for rehab than a revolving door for prisons.

But all that's assuming we keep today's drug policy. I see prison abolition as requiring huge changes to everything else about society. That could include taking Portugal's approach to their drug problem. It could mean giving away buprenorphine and naloxone. It could mean outright legalization of even the worst drugs so that addicts would still wreck themselves but without stealing to afford black market prices. We used to have opium and cocaine over the counter. It was bad, but not as bad as what we have today. Radical? Heck yes.
You can't do just one radical thing, like abolishing prisons while keeping everything else the same.

(*) It's not about my encounter with somebody like that which has me still getting medical treatment two and a half months later. It's not about me still waking up in pain sometimes. It's not about how I feel after all that being the target of a patronizing lecture.
Isn’t this really just a locked rehab? If these people were able to succeed in that type of environment they would have done it before they got sentenced to prison.

You think that if we legalize all drugs then addicts won’t have to steal to buy them? Can you see a heroin addict being offered drugs at affordable prices and they just self regulate themselves? Again, if they could do this they’d have done it no matter what the cost of the drug was.

I think we can increase drug rehabilitation without abolishing prisons. You could create one of these facilities and see what the success rate is. I’m doubtful it would be high but you won’t know until you try.
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Old 02-15-2018, 06:46 PM
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You think that if we legalize all drugs then addicts won’t have to steal to buy them? Can you see a heroin addict being offered drugs at affordable prices and they just self regulate themselves? Again, if they could do this they’d have done it no matter what the cost of the drug was.
I heard a NPR piece on a clinic trying to open in Philly that wouldn't provide low cost heroin, but a safe place to use it. It's modeled on clinics dotted over Canada that have shown a reduction in criminality associated with drug use. The main difference would be that in the US, clients would provide their own drug as we do not have a legalized form of dispensing an illegal drug, whereas in CAN, the drug is provided as part of government funding.

From, "The Case for Prescription Heroin" (CAN):
This proved a massive change for Pinkney. Previously, he estimates he and his wife were spending $500 a day on drugs. To pay for that, his wife “worked the street,” and he, for some time, stole and scavenged trash cans and dumpsters (“binning”) for things to sell. When they became patients at Crosstown — which is covered by government-provided insurance —they both were able to stop doing illegal or unsafe work to buy drugs.

The article also cites that many repeat clients do eventually choose other options for weaning and treatment available at the same location.

We all know prison doesn't encourage getting clean, but that someone can get clean in prison. So yes, it's possible for some people to self regulate. But they may need tools to do that. What are those tools? Can they only be offered under lock and key and residential programs?

Last edited by miamac; 02-16-2018 at 11:21 AM.. Reason: article title typo
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Old 02-16-2018, 07:07 PM
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I heard a NPR piece on a clinic trying to open in Philly that wouldn't provide low cost heroin, but a safe place to use it. It's modeled on clinics dotted over Canada that have shown a reduction in criminality associated with drug use. The main difference would be that in the US, clients would provide their own drug as we do not have a legalized form of dispensing an illegal drug, whereas in CAN, the drug is provided as part of government funding.

From, "The Case for Prescription Heroin" (CAN):
This proved a massive change for Pinkney. Previously, he estimates he and his wife were spending $500 a day on drugs. To pay for that, his wife “worked the street,” and he, for some time, stole and scavenged trash cans and dumpsters (“binning”) for things to sell. When they became patients at Crosstown — which is covered by government-provided insurance —they both were able to stop doing illegal or unsafe work to buy drugs.

The article also cites that many repeat clients do eventually choose other options for weaning and treatment available at the same location.

We all know prison doesn't encourage getting clean, but that someone can get clean in prison. So yes, it's possible for some people to self regulate. But they may need tools to do that. What are those tools? Can they only be offered under lock and key and residential programs?
NYC is looking into the same type of program for addicts. As it decreases violence, risks of diseases, and gets people I to a place where they can get helps without shame and guilt. Other coy tries have found success and had to close their prisons. They have decades of data. Others still have prisons, but keep them more humane because they recognize them as people who will return to society.
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