3 Positions Against Prison

3positions

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By August O’Clairre

This zine offers an excellent critique of prisons, arguing that prison is not just a physical site but also a condition that exists within society. Specifically, it offers a solid analysis of prison abolition, arguing that in seeking to “shrink” the prison industrial complex, abolitionists often end up replacing prison with other less brutal institutions. Consequently, prison doesn’t disappear but rather its mechanisms – surveillance, militarization of the police, etc – spread throughout society.

“One and a half centuries ago, slavery was abolished by the United States government. This followed an enormous social struggle over abolition– wars were fought between pro-slavery elements and abolitionist elements. There were slave revolts and armed uprisings. The government intervened. And the Thirteenth Amendment everso- neatly includes a loophole allowing for the enslavement of prisoners (“except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”). Moreover, the economic system of chattel slavery was replaced with indentured servitude and industrial wage labor–which the Northern capitalists were struggling to proliferate. So today, we have slavery, although slavery has been abolished. The structures of society that required slaves have remained intact. And in one hundred years, prisons may be abolished, but we will still have prisons as long as capitalism remains intact.”

14 Pages

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