What Is Penal Abolition?
Date:  09-05-2017

Jean Trounstine reports on the International Conference on Penal Abolition meeting in New Bedford, Massachusetts
The following article appeared in Truthout on September 2, 2017:

In July 2017 more than 200 people from across the globe met for four days in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which was once home to abolitionist Frederick Douglass and a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Meeting intentionally in a place with such historical significance to the abolition movement, conferees came together to learn more about the relationship between the carceral state and struggles against colonialism and slavery.

Past meetings of the International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA 17) have been held in Nigeria, Ireland and Ecuador, bringing critical abolitionist leaders to these countries during politically potent moments as a part of abolitionist political intervention. Recognizing the leadership of those most deeply impacted by the penal system, they came together to clarify why prison abolition is so critical right now and what can be done with this knowledge.

What Is Penal Abolition?

For years, noted political activist Angela Davis has argued in many of her writings that "the prison system in the United States more closely resembles a new form of slavery than a criminal justice system." She consistently challenges the belief that "caging and controlling people makes us safe." In fact, since 2000, "The increased use of incarceration accounted for nearly zero percent of the overall reduction in crime," according to a recent report by the Vera Institute, entitled "The Prison Paradox: More Incarceration Will Not Make Us Safer." The report also underscores the structural racism in which incarceration is grounded, adding, "Incarceration will increase crime in states and communities with already high incarceration rates." >>> Continue reading