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Inmates vs. Animals: U.S. Fails the Test of Civilization

By Ben Zipperer, AlterNet

Posted on April 18, 2007, Printed on April 18, 2007

http://www.alternet.org/story/50428/

 

Legend has it that in the fifth century the Asian monk Telemachus ran into a Roman arena to stop the brutality of the gladitorial games. For his interruption, the indignant crowd stoned him to death, but his actions impressed Emperor Honorius enough to put an end to the fights.

 

The past millenium and a half has arguably witnessed a general improvement in the cultural level of society, in particular many countries having preserved and extended their intolerance of sports that brutally exploit the disadvantaged. Today even cock fighting and pitting canines against each other are illegal in most industrialized nations.

 

Remnants of gladitorial combat nevertheless persist, notably at two prison rodeos in Angola, La., and McAlester, Okla., where Americans buy tickets to watch inmates wrestle bulls and participate in crowd favorites like "Convict Poker." Also called "Mexican Sweat," the poker game consists of four prisoners who sit expectantly around a red card table. A 1,500-pound bull is unleashed, and the last convict to remain sitting wins. Especially thrilling for the audience is the chaotic finale "Money the Hard Way" in which more than a dozen inmates scramble to snatch a poker chip dangling from the horns of another raging bull.

 

Unlike prisoners of ancient Rome, convicts at the annual Angola and Oklahoma State rodeos aren't physically forced to compete in the games, or even executed after their performance. Instead, they're paid handsomely -- upwards of $200 for winning "Convict Poker," or $100 for successfully grabbing the chip in "Money the Hard Way." A tour guide clarifies the basic economics: "Since $100 is worth about four months' pay to these hardened criminals, be ready for one hell of a scrap for that c-note."

 

There are of course some ethical concerns. When "someone raises a question about the propriety of the rodeo," a Washington Post article explains, the focus remains on the abuse of bulls and broncos, like the pleas of the animal rights group PETA to cancel the rodeo on animal cruelty grounds. An official from In Defense of Animals writes elsewhere that the event provides inmates with "the right to torment and abuse frightened animals in front of a cheering audience." Moral questions don't arise about the propriety of cheering while bulls pummel convicts.

 

Prison rodeos may be rare, but it shouldn't be surprising that the mainstream toleration they receive stems from the willingness of the United States to incarcerate 2.2 million of its people. While less than one out of every 20 humans lives in the United States, almost one quarter of the world's prisoners sit in American jails. The U.S. criminal justice system has no parallel in the contemporary world. History, however, reveals the origins of the system's scope, in addition to the national obsession of denying criminal offenders the decency and rights normally afforded to other humans.

 

 

More Americans in prison

 

In the international race to incarcerate, the United States dominates, with few rivals and no rich countries within shouting distance. Incarceration rates across countries are best measured as shares of national populations. Last year, for every 100,000 people in the United States, 738 were in prison. Second-place Russia, whom the United States succeeded in 2000, currently boasts a rate of 603, but the only other OECD country with a rate above 200 is Poland at 229. The U.K. incarceration rate of 145 is the highest of any Western European country. Although African-Americans suffer the greatest relative burden of U.S. imprisonment, the incarceration rate for whites in the United States is still more than three times the OECD average.

 

To its credit, the United States hasn't always imprisoned such a large share of its population. Incarceration rates were steady, sometimes falling, and always below 200 throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. The prison population rate rose sharply from 1973 to 1980, and then skyrocketed, more than tripling over the past 25 years.

 

What caused such a tremendous spike in imprisonment? Increases in crime rates surely made some contribution, but the road to prison involves other components of the criminal justice system, like prosecutorial and judicial decisions, and the time served in jail. Isolating these factors during the period from 1980 to 1996, Carnegie Mellon professor Alfred Blumstein and Bureau of Justice statistician Allen Beck conclude that only 12 percent of state incarceration growth resulted from the increased number of offenses. The rest of the prison population growth was due to decisions to incarcerate arrested individuals and their subsequent sentence length -- namely, policy choices made by legal and political representatives.

 

Coinciding directly with this astounding expansion of the prison population is the U.S. "war on drugs." Nonviolent drug offenses accounted for less than 8 percent of prisoners in 1980, but by 1993 that share had risen to about 25 percent, where it remains today. By contrast, more than half of those imprisoned in 1980 were violent criminals, who now comprise a bit less than half of the prison population. As a proportion of illicit activity, drug use therefore either tripled in just slightly over a decade and then stabilized, or the focus and severity of U.S. penal and sentencing policy shifted dramatically.

 

International comparisons also reveal the stark and decisive contribution of criminal justice policies to incarceration rates. Cross-country crime surveys from the late 1980s through the present place the United States slightly above average, but well within the range of Western European criminal activity. The United States is now, of course, off the charts in terms of incarceration, imprisoning on a per capita basis six times the average of other OECD countries.

 

Incarceration rates in the United States and Finland were not dissimilar in the mid-1960s. Over the following 30 years, the United States saw a near fivefold increase in the rate of violent crime and a threefold increase in the rate of imprisonment. Violent crime also rose in Finland by a factor of three, but over roughly the same period, the promotion of sentencing alternatives to incarceration and deliberate reductions in the length of prison sentences helped to cut the Finnish incarceration rate by more than half.

 

Assessing these trends, criminologist Michael Tonry writes that whereas U.K. punishment policies were originally not out of the ordinary compared with Western Europe, since 1993 England and Wales "have consciously emulated American crime control policies," resulting in the near doubling of the prison population. In Germany, despite a doubling of the violent crime rate between the early 1960s and 1990s, "no radical decisions were made to increase or decrease the imprisonment rate," and so the German incarceration rate stagnated and even fell somewhat over this period. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that incarceration rates are driven primarily by policy choices, not by crime rates or inexorable laws of nature.

 

 

Permanent exclusion

 

Unsatisfied with mere prison sentences, the United States especially has decided that offenders should continue to pay for their crimes even after release. Some states prohibit hiring teachers or child care workers with criminal records, and drug felons are often denied the occupational mobility necessary for employment in general due to required suspensions or revocations of drivers' licenses. Federal law also allows states to deny offenders public housing, or to bar welfare benefits or food stamps from drug felons, sometimes permanently. Drug-related records can invalidate eligibility for student loans or aid. Even exile has its place in the United States: Foreigners with certain criminal convictions are increasingly deported, a practice which grew twelvefold between 1989 and 2004.

 

Some of these punishments isolate the United States from the rest of the industrialized world. Most states in this country deny current prisoners the right to vote, some bar felons from voting during probation or parole, and a few strip the vote from felons for life. Although the United States is hardly alone in denying voting rights to the imprisoned, many European nations, including Denmark, Ireland, Spain and Sweden, even allow current prisoners to vote. Nonetheless, the United States appears to be the only democratic country that indefinitely disenfranchises nonincarcerated felons. The United Nations Human Rights Committee recently proclaimed that these felon disenfranchisement practices violate international law, namely the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States is a party.

 

Crediting the United States for such exclusionary policies would be unfair. Like prison rodeos and gladiatorial games, these traditions have deep roots in history, as outlaws in ancient Rome and Germanic tribes were likewise deprived of conventional human rights. The United States of today embraces the legal and moral standards of medieval Europe, where disenfranchisement and other practices amounted to what was called "civil death." Criminals there were consequently "dead in law," prevented from performing the normal legal functions of citizenry.

 

Coupled with the severe and disproportionate toll of the criminal justice system on black America, the reach of civil death is staggering. More than 13 percent of African-American men cannot vote because their felony conviction puts them in prison or on parole, or just simply denies their suffrage. In eight states, at least one out of four black men is disenfranchised. Christopher Uggen at the University of Minnesota and Jeff Manza at Northwestern University calculate that felony disenfranchisement affected a total of 5.4 million Americans in 2004.

 

Criminal offenders are not only excluded from society by imprisonment and post-prison sanctions, but also due to the subtle fact that those in prison are ignored by most measures of economic well-being. For instance, the unemployment rate measures the nonworking share of the labor force -- those who are actively seeking work. Omitted from this definition, however, are the institutionalized and in particular the incarcerated.

 

Sociologists Bruce Western and Katherine Beckett note that while Europe is regularly chastised for high labor inactivity, counting the imprisoned as unemployed drastically changes the economic standing of the United States among European countries. In 2004, the standardized U.S. unemployment rate for men was 5.6 percent below the OECD average of about 6.2 percent. Including the prison population as unemployed raises the male U.S. unemployment rate to 7.9 percent, exceeding the modified OECD average (6.6 percent), and placing the United States below only the top five high unemployment countries of Europe.

 

The point is not that the incarcerated should be counted in the conventional unemployment rate, but rather that vast numbers of able-bodied men are forcibly removed both from civil society in general, and from our very conception of it. Rates for employment, poverty, inequality and virtually every socioeconomic indicator exclude the incarcerated. Prisoners' invisibility to society in conjunction with civil death -- in the United States, at least -- cannot possibly help to ensure their human rights.

 

Nearly a century ago Winston Churchill remarked that "the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilization of any country ... [these actions] mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation, and are the sign and proof of the living virtue in it." U.S.-style criminal treatment includes disenfranchisement, exile, prison rodeos and innumerable other practices that punish, exclude and effectively erase millions of people. Do these signs constitute our virtue? Are we failing the test of civilization?

 

Ben Zipperer is a research assistant at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C.

 

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/50428/

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Personally I don't think there are enough people in prison...correct that...there are too many people not in prison that have earned a trip there. The problem is we let the wrong ones out and sometimes put the wrong ones in.

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Personally I don't think there are enough people in prison...correct that...there are too many people not in prison that have earned a trip there. The problem is we let the wrong ones out and sometimes put the wrong ones in.
Could you elaborate on what segment of the population has earned a trip to prison and are not incarerated and who are the wrong ones getting out?
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I think people that aid the meat business deserve a trip even though its legal. Politicians that take legal bribes, police that commit terrible acts on people beyond what is required(they normally get a temp. suspension or a temporary drop in rank). Kids who get caught selling drugs but don't go to prison because they are two weeks from being 18yrs old. Its a never ending list. As for those that should stay in...I'd say every single sex offender that has re-offended should have never gotten out of prison. Same goes to drug trafficers who are repeat offenders...sometimes these people get the chance to repeat more than once after getting caught. Hell...what about that kid that just killed 30+people in Virginia Tech. He had been reported to authorities multiple times and this wouldn't have happened if he were in prison. And of course Ray Lewis...a slap in the wrist isn't warranted if you have cash in the bank. Mike Tyson is another example. There are tens of thousand of people that should be in prison for illegal acts that they have been caught doing more than one time. Oh...also the jerk redneck that almost hit me with his car after calling me a faggot while tailgating me on my bike. His hearing went bad for him but I'm assuming he'll get off easier than he deserves because he's a West Point graduate and Military Officer.

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Why the hell should people go to jail for selling drugs? Because the government says it's wrong? It's a consensual exchange.

As for putting people in prison overall, their is little evidence higher incarnation rates actually reduce crime. I'd say over all the prison system does way more harm then good.

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I should have been more specific...sorry. I mean hard drugs like cocaine and heroin...drugs that result in abuse of those in areas where the drugs are grown as well as the people drugs like these effect...outside of the user. I don't think its ethical for a coke head to raise children. Also a lot of drugs are sold to children. I'm completely cool with weed but when elementary age students are smoking it I don't agree with it...this was the case where I went to school. By middle school I knew kids using LSD, meth, and a bunch of other things. Its consensual but not ethical in the same way an 30yr old can have sex with a 10yr old....it can be consensual but the doesn't mean its right.

 

I don't really think incarceration is really just to prevent crime...its to protect people from the people who are going to commit crimes again. I also don't believe in true rehabilitation...most people can't be rehabilitated...only punished. Really what we need is real punishment. In Saudi Arabia theft is very rare because people are scared of losing their hands...we may put you on parole for 2 months depending on what is stolen. If you make prison tough and not have cable TV like our prisons do...it may actually work.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't think any animals (nonhuman or human) should be kept in cages. That's why I support the mission of groups like Critical Resistance.

 

Critical Resistance seeks to build an international movement to end the Prison Industrial Complex by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe. We believe that basic necessities such as food, shelter, and freedom are what really make our communities secure. As such, our work is part of global struggles against inequality and powerlessness. The success of the movement requires that it reflect communities most affected by the PIC. Because we seek to abolish the PIC, we cannot support any work that extends its life or scope.

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OK but what do you do about people that simply can't stop raping or molesting children right now. Sure maybe most can be rehabilitated but not today...nobody can be fixed in one day and especially not everyone...in the mean time while that person is getting fixed do women and children need to just take one for the team???

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I agree with you veganpotter, i don't believe there's enough people in jail neither. But, there's also a lot of people in jail who shouldn't be there at all.. not only in the U.S.A but in several ( if not, the majority. ) other countries as well, they're creating some 'laws' that make no sense.. and they're obviously going to be broken several other times.. because the only thing the government does, is to make it illegal, and nothing else, and they end up wasting taxmoney and not doing what they're suppose to do.

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Yeah...my great-grandmother was put in prison for three years in the Philippines. She killed a man with a knife after he tried to rape her in a rice field...it was with his knife. If things were Daniel's way she wouldn't have gone to prison which would be a good thing since she didn't deserve it but at the same time if he raped her he'd be buying rice from her the next day and maybe raping someone else the day after...maybe even doing so for years before mental reform fixed him...assuming it would ever work.

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I'm with Potter on this one.

 

I'm all for keeping people in cages to protect society.

 

That said of course I do not agree with all laws that lead to imprisonment, and miscarriages of justice do occur. That does not mean that we should not incarcerate anybody though.

 

There are many clear cut cases - murder, rape etc etc where people should be locked away.

 

Don't want to do the time, don't do the crime. Simple.

 

No prisons do not ensure safety, but they make the world a safer place than it would otherwise be if some prisoners were free to roam and continue their heinous, dangerous and violent activities at leisure.

 

Regardless of the question of safety, I support prison as a form of punishment. Shame that prisons seem to have gone all soft these days, at least in the UK...

 

A friend was murdered three years ago, his killer got a 'life' sentence of 14 years. That's nothing for taking away 50 or 60 years of my friends life. My heart bleeds that his killer is now in a cage. Better than the coffin he put my friend in. His killer got away light - should be banged away for 30 or 40 years in my opinion, and then you read total nonsense that a murderer shouldn't even be imprisoned...

 

Can only shake my head in despair when people say his killer should be free to walk around.... His killer had 'food, shelter, and freedom' - didn't make my friend 'secure'....

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That is a sad story to hear. Things beyond having food, shelter and freedom will cause people to murder. Aspects of their personal lives beyond the control of society may drive many to murder, so the notion that creating a society in which everyone is provided for will stop violence and crime is idealistic and naive. People are of a flawed nature and will commit atrocious acts no matter what. Tools like incarceration appeal to people's selfish tendencies and protect society to an extent from those who may strike again.

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Yeah its terrible how nice some prisons are here(and most so called civilized societies)...even some of the high security prisons have cable TV, weight rooms, food every day(I guess thats somewhat neccessary), drugs(illegally so I don't blame the prison for all of that but most), cigarrettes which are given to them, and for some who enjoy it...sex. I saw this interview with a child molester that drugged his victims on 20/20 and he said he loves being in prison since he doesn't need to work, gets all the food he needs, can get drugs and gets all the sex he wants...this goes to show that prison needs to be hard. It kills me to hear about people raping or killing after a 6-12 month imprisonment for the same crime.

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If things were Daniel's way...

Um... Please don't assume you know my "way." That's really too presumptive for someone who doesn't know me. A person can be anti-violence and anti-prison, and I believe that based on the research being effective in opposing violence means also opposing prisons.

 

Question: Since when has the Prison Industrial Complex protected women and children?

 

Even the mainstream group Amnesty International in a recent report shows that prisons don't protect the Native American or Alaska Native woman who has a one in three chance of being raped -- mostly by white men -- at some point in her life. What I believe is truly utopian is the hope that the prison system can be reformed. So when a group like Amnesty International is talking about reforming the prison system with "adequate law enforcement," I think what is being promoted is a minor change that allows for a return to business as usual.

 

In contrast, a significant number of activists working to abolish the the Prison Industrial Complex are also doing work on the front-lines to stop the root causes of sexual assualt. This includes activists from INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence.

 

One of these activist is Andrea Smith, a Native American woman working on anti-violence and anti-prison issues. Almost as if in direct response to your story about your great-grandmother, Smith points out when assessing the strategy of using prisons to prevent violence that first of all:

 

Law enforcement approaches to violence against women MAY deter some acts of violence in the short term. However, as an overall strategy for ending violence, criminalization has not worked. In fact, the overall impact of mandatory arrests laws for domestic violence have led to decreases in the number of battered women who kill their partners in self-defense, but they have not led to a decrease in the number of batterers who kill their partners. Thus, the law protects batterers more than it protects survivors.

This means that in contrast to what you said about your great-grandmother that, according to Smith's research on this issue, the prison system is more likely to portect the rapist, not your great-grandmother.

 

Here's a larger portion of the article by Andrea Smith on prisons and violence against women:

 

Critical Resistance - Incite Statement

Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial Complex

By Andrea Smith

 

We call social justice movements to develop strategies and analysis that address both state AND interpersonal violence, particularly violence against women. Currently, activists/movements that address state violence (such as anti-prison, anti-police brutality groups) often work in isolation from activists/movements that address domestic and sexual violence. The result is that women of color, who suffer disproportionately from both state and interpersonal violence, have become marginalized within these movements. It is critical that we develop responses to gender violence that do not depend on a sexist, racist, classist, and homophobic criminal justice system. It is also important that we develop strategies that c hallenge the criminal justice system and that also provide safety for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. To live violence free-lives, we must develop holistic strategies for addressing violence that speak to the intersection of all forms of oppression.

 

The anti-violence movement has been critically important in breaking the silence around violence against women and providing much-needed services to survivors. However, the mainstream anti-violence movement has increasingly relied on the criminal justice system as the front-line approach toward ending violence against women of color. It is important to assess the impact of this strategy.

 

1) Law enforcement approaches to violence against women MAY deter some acts of violence in the short term. However, as an overall strategy for ending violence, criminalization has not worked. In fact, the overall impact of mandatory arrests laws for domestic violence have led to decreases in the number of battered women who kill their partners in self-defense, but they have not led to a decrease in the number of batterers who kill their partners. Thus, the law protects batterers more than it protects survivors.

 

2) The criminalization approach has also brought many women into conflict with the law, particularly women of color, poor women, lesbians, sex workers, immigrant women, women with disabilities, and other marginalized women. For instance, under mandatory arrest laws, there have been numerous incidents where police officers called to domestic incidents have arrested the woman who is being battered. Many undocumented women have reported cases of sexual and domestic violence, only to find themselves deported. A tough law and order agenda also leads to long punitive sentences for women convicted of killing their batterers. Finally, when public funding is channeled into policing and prisons, budget cuts for social programs, including women’s shelters, welfare and public housing are the inevitable side effect. These cutbacks leave women less able to escape violent relationships.

 

3) Prisons don’t work. Despite an exponential increase in the number of men in prisons, women are not any safer, and the rates of sexual assault and domestic violence have not decreased. In calling for greater police responses to and harsher sentences for perpetrators of gender violence, the anti-violence movement has fueled the proliferation of prisons which now lock up more people per capita in the U.S. than any other country. During the past fifteen years, the numbers of women, especially women of color in prison has skyrocketed. Prisons also inflict violence on the growing numbers of women behind bars. Slashing, suicide, the proliferation of HIV, strip searches, medical neglect and rape of prisoners has largely been ignored by anti-violence activists. The criminal justice system, an institution of violence, domination, and control, has increased the level of violence in society.

 

4) The reliance on state funding to support anti-violence programs has increased the professionalization of the anti-violence movement and alienated it from its community-organizing, social justice roots. Such reliance has isolated the anti-violence movement from other social justice movements that seek to eradicate state violence, such that it acts in conflict rather than in collaboration with these movements.

 

5) The reliance on the criminal justice system has taken power away from women’s ability to organize collectively to stop violence and has invested this power within the state. The result is that women who seek redress in the criminal justice system feel disempowered and alienated. It has also promoted an individualistic approach toward ending violence such that the only way people think they can intervene in stopping violence is to call the police. This reliance has shifted our focus from developing ways communities can collectively respond to violence.

 

In recent years, the mainstream anti-prison movement has called important attention to the negative impact of criminalization and the build-up of the prison industrial complex. Because activists who seek to reverse the tide of mass incarceration and criminalization of poor communities and communities of color have not always centered gender and sexuality in their analysis or organizing, we have not always responded adequately to the needs of survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

 

1) Prison and police accountability activists have generally organized around and conceptualized men of color as the primary victims of state violence. Women prisoners and victims of police brutality have been made invisible by a focus on the war on our brothers and sons. It has failed to consider how women are affected as severely by state violence as men. The plight of women who are raped by INS officers or prison guards, for instance, has not received sufficient attention. In addition, women carry the burden of caring for extended family when family and community members are criminalized and wherehoused. Several organizations have been established to advocate for women prisoners; however, these groups have been frequently marginalized within the mainstream anti-prison movement..

 

2) The anti-prison movement has not addressed strategies for addressing the rampant forms of violence women face in their everyday lives, including street harassment, sexual harassment at work, rape, and intimate partner abuse. Until these strategies are developed, many women will feel shortchanged by the movement. In addition, by not seeking alliances with the anti-violence movement, the anti-prison movement has sent the message that it is possible to liberate communities without seeking the well-being and safety of women.

 

3) The anti-prison movement has failed to sufficiently organize around the forms of state violence faced by LGBTI communities. LGBTI street youth and trans people in general are particularly vulnerable to police brutality and criminalization. LGBTI prisoners are denied basic human rights such as family visits from same sex partners, and same sex consensual relationships in prison are policed and punished.

 

4) While prison abolitionists have correctly pointed out that rapists and serial murderers comprise a small number of the prison population, we have not answered the question of how these cases should be addressed. The inability to answer the question is interpreted by many anti-violence activists as a lack of concern for the safety of women

 

5) The various alternatives to incarcaration that have been developed by anti-prison activists have generally failed to provide sufficient mechanism for safety and accountability for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. These alternatives often rely on a romanticized notion of communities, which have yet to demonstrate their commitment and ability to keep women and children safe or seriously address the sexism and homophobia that is deeply embedded within them.

 

We call on social justice movements concerned with ending violence in all its forms to:

 

1) Develop community-based responses to violence that do not rely on the criminal justice system AND which have mechanisms that ensure safety and accountability for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Transformative practices emerging from local communities should be documented and disseminated to promote collective responses to violence..

 

2) Critically assess the impact of state funding on social justice organizations and develop alternative fundraising strategies to support these organizations. Develop collective fundraising and organizing strategies for anti-prison and anti-violence organizations. Develop strategies and analysis that specifically target state forms of sexual violence.

 

3) Make connections between interpersonal violence, the violence inflicted by domestic state institutions (such as prisons, detention centers, mental hospitals, and child protective services), and international violence (such as war, military base prostitution, and nuclear testing).

 

4) Develop an analysis and strategies to end violence that do not isolate individual acts of violence (either committed by the state or individuals) from their larger contexts. These strategies must address how entire communities of all genders are affected in multiple ways by both state violence and interpersonal gender violence. Battered women prisoners represent an intersection of state and interpersonal violence and as such provide and opportunity for both movements to build coalitions and joint struggles.

 

5) Put poor/working class women of color in the center of their analysis, organizing practices, and leadership development. Recognize the role of economic oppression, welfare “reform,” and attacks on women workers’ rights in increasing women’s vulnerability to all forms of violence and locate anti-violence and anti-prison activism alongside efforts to transform the capitalist economic system.

 

6) Center stories of state violence committed against women of color in our organizing efforts.

 

7) Oppose legislative change that promotes prison expansion, criminalization of poor communities and communities of color and thus state violence against women of color, even if these changes also incorporate measure to support victims of interpersonal gender violence.

 

8) Promote holistic political education at the everyday level within our communities, specifically how sexual violence helps reproduce the colonial, racist, capitalist, heterosexist, and patriarchal society we live in as well as how state violence produces interpersonal violence within communities.

 

9) Develop strategies for mobilizing against sexism and homophobia WITHIN our communities in order to keep women safe.

 

10) Challenge men of color and all men in social justice movements to take particular responsibility to address and organize around gender violence in their communities as a primary strategy for addressing violence and colonialism. We challenge men to address how their own histories of victimization have hindered their ability to establish gender justice in their communities.

 

11) Link struggles for personal transformation and healing with struggles for social justice.

 

We seek to build movements that not only end violence, but that create a society based on radical freedom, mutual accountability, and passionate reciprocity. In this society, safety and security will not be premised on violence or the threat of violence; it will be based on a collective commitment to guaranteeing the survival and care of all peoples.

Edited by Daniel
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You folks are so reactionary

 

If prison is so great you try it out. Do you know anyone who has been to prison? It isn't fun. It doesn't make them a better person, it fucks them up. I know people who have been in jail. They aren't murders or rapist, they just made mistakes. Prison made them less able to function in society.

They didn't sit around watching cable TV either, it wasn't fun. One person I know would pick a fight with guards every time he got out of solitary because getting his ass kicked by the guards once a month and sent back to solitary was better then better raped and beaten more often.

 

Most people in prison are there for non-violent reasons, locking them up doesn't do any good. Most in prison for violence are in for things like assault, not rape or murder. We don't need prisons they make people more dangerous, more anti-social, and less able to function.

 

The very small number who are so dangerous that they have to be confined can be dealt with without prisons. Things like house arrest, mental hospitals, and the type of stuff we do now with dangerous offenders(after they served their time) would be enough.

 

If we're serious about crime we need to address the social issues that lead to crime. Crime is a social problem, not an individual one, so we must treat crime. We need to deal with inequality and oppression for they are the primary roots of crime

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Prisons don't need to make people more dangerous. Prisons have made people better. It doesn't work for everyone but the people that don't get better simply need to stay there. As for non-violent criminals...surely punishment should be different for them than rapists but they do need to be punished...what should happen to someone who breaks into your home...they shouldn't get away with just having to give your shit back. As for crime being a social problem that is true and its not true. Some people are always going to be rapists which is why people from all sect rape...same with molestation and stealing.

 

As for societies working better without prison lets see if thats possible. See how long 100,000 people on an island with everything they need can remain peaceful with no crime being commited. If you put 100,000 pacifist anarchists on an island they will eventually have kids...not all their kids will agree with them and they will cause trouble. Plain and simple.

 

As for prison I've had a few friends go and they said it wasn't so bad. They didn't enjoy it but for them it was better in some ways than being home but I have met people that have hated prison so I'm not saying its a great time for everyone. Maybe they were just acting tough but they said they got to play basketball every day. Got to go the gym for an hour a day and got better food than they did at home. One was a friend I used to steal car stereos with. He has no cable TV at home, ate frozen dinners every day and used the money he got stealing car stereos to help his family...not a good thing but he felt it was his only choice. However we were stealing from people that probably didn't have tons of money either so he should have been sent to prison and I should have been sent as well...I just stopped before I got caught. Anyway he's not doing it anymore.

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