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Thread: Police and Prison Abolition Thread

  1. #81
    I’ve cut some of your text, stuff that was more fact-based, that one would not object to the data. But responded in red.

    Quote Originally Posted by AsesinoDeTortugas View Post
    So this post is going to be a long one, buckle up. But first, a couple of disclaimers:
    [*]The focus of my paper was on the crippling effect mass incarceration has on black Americans, so that is the focus of this post as well. But mass incarceration affects all Americans and the points I will try to explain apply to all Americans as well.

    I’d be interested to read your paper if you were willing to share. Lmk.

    Mass incarceration and how we got to the point we are at basically boils down to two ideas regarding the purposes of criminal justice: retribution or rehabilitation. If you feel that the criminal justice system should bring about retributive justice (i.e., an eye for an eye), you likely don't feel that there is anything wrong with the criminal justice system as is other than the backlogs in the court prevent more people from going to prison. The goal of the system is to restore justice to the victim who was wronged and that usually has strict statutory punishments that are meted out according to charges brought against a defendant. On the other hand, rehabilitative justice seeks to (obviously) rehabilitate the offender through proactive measures (e.g., drug treatment programs, anger management, mental health facilities, etc.) aimed toward returning the offender to society a better person that is not likely to commit further crimes. I am firmly in the latter camp and that should be known before I get into the nitty gritty of the rest of this post.

    Can you expand on this paragraph? I don’t find it sufficiently addressed the “how we got to the point we are at?” question. The dichotomy of retributive/rehabilitative doesn’t seem to speak to the broader social and political conditions that gave rise to the PIC.

    The two biggest issues that I found in my research regarding mass incarceration recently were disproportionate targeting of minorities by U.S. police departments and the criminalization of poverty. Now, these two issues are interrelated and can compound quite quickly.

    But to start, I will focus on what I believe is the primary reason that mass incarceration is such a problem and that is the disproportionate targeting.

    I think what abolitionists try to get at is a core argument that it is 2019 and literally none of the reforms we have tried in our criminal justice system have worked in rooting out racial disparities. How many decades now have we done the “police bias training” as a reform? How has it worked? Abolitionists would say policing and incarceration are inherent to capitalism and are inherently white supremacist institutions and that you can’t “reform” the racism out of individual officers without addressing the institutionalized racism.

    I’ll share some resources later when I respond to other posts, but the first state police force was in Pennsylvania and was modeled after our colonialist occupation of the Philippines. But it just violently put down labor strikes and didn’t solve any crime.

    Early police forces were usually just used to suppress labor activism, and they were crooked as fuck. By any historical analysis they were derived both from the legacy of slave catchers and to explicitly serve the interests of the capitalist class.

    So if you wouldn’t mind digging deeper and answering why you think these racial disparities exist today. What reforms do you believe will work in removing racial disparities?

    Is “disproportionate targeting” driving the cause of mass incarceration? Or is “disproportionate targeting” one of the many ways the PIC operates?



    In the interest of not completely boring you all with additional issues such as the disparate treatment of minorities in plea bargaining and the overcharging of court fees to even indigent defendants, I'll stop here. But the bottom line is this: until cash bail is totally eliminated from the criminal justice system, there will continue to be a mass incarceration crisis in this country.

    I’d be interested if you could share an answer to one of my original questions. What does ending mass incarceration mean? What levels of incarceration would be sufficient to you?

    If you have any additional questions related to this post or if you all would like to hear more about other issues I researched, please let me know. More than happy to share.

  2. #82
    I've tried to summarize some of the major recurring questions/responses that I'll try to address as soon as I can. Tell me if you would like me to add anything:

    1)Vision for the future
    Requests for more details on what alternatives look like. (Junebug, Jamison2Carter)
    Abolitionist theory more broadly to economic and climate justice (Strick)

    2)Questions/comments on public safety and deterrence.
    Human nature argument, punishment as deterrence (RJ, Catamount)
    Police as a legitimate institution. Do cops make us safer? (Shoo)

    3)General "why not reform", "baby out with bathwater" (ADT, Jamison)
    Last edited by MHBDemon; 01-16-2019 at 01:31 AM.

  3. #83
    If there was no punitive retribution, what would stop 500 board members from knee-capping Wellman every day?

  4. #84
    Quote Originally Posted by MHBDemon View Post
    I've tried to summarize some of the major recurring questions/responses that I'll try to address as soon as I can. Tell me if you would like me to add anything:

    1)Vision for the future
    Requests for more details on what alternatives look like. (Junebug, Jamison2Carter)
    Abolitionist theory more broadly to economic and climate justice (Strick)

    2)Questions/comments on public safety and deterrence.
    Human nature argument, punishment as deterrence (RJ, Catamount)
    Police as a legitimate institution. Do cops make us safer? (Shoo)

    3)General "why not reform", "baby out with bathwater" (ADT, Jamison)
    What to do with violent criminals to prevent them from committing further violent crimes.

  5. #85
    A lot of these questions were the basis of the Economics of Crime class I took in university. Basically, what cost/risk does it take to prevent someone from committing a crime. Is the cost of jailing people more productive/prevent more crime if used in other measures, like education. If I remember right, there was general consensus for exceptions for certain crimes which are usually called crimes of passion, where no risk/penalty would prevent them. But for anything short of extreme violence, there were non-prison alternatives that would improve the economy, reduce overall crime and repeat offenses. But I took that course 19 years ago and really don't remember specifics.

  6. #86
    Rusty Larue

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    Quote Originally Posted by mako1331 View Post
    If there was no punitive retribution, what would stop 500 board members from knee-capping Wellman every day?
    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that there wouldn’t be punitive retribution for serious crimes. Just that prison isn’t necessary to carry that out, and perhaps a police force isn’t either.

  7. #87
    I disagree with you
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    what about all the things shoo asked about here that no one addressed:

    This does not mean that all cops (or most) are bad or perform no public service. You think investigating crimes, finding kidnapped children, responding to emergencies, are not public services (or not necessary public services)? Do you think police pulling over your speeding wife or someone going 120 miles per hour is not a public service? What about pulling over a drunk driver before he kills himself or someone else? Not a public service?

  8. #88
    I think at the beginning of this argument you already have a problem because people are arguing from two different beliefs in people. Those that believe most people are good and therefore society is technically good and those that believe most people are bad. History, especially recent history probably points to there are more bad people than most give credit for.

  9. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by MHBDemon View Post
    I've tried to summarize some of the major recurring questions/responses that I'll try to address as soon as I can. Tell me if you would like me to add anything:

    1)Vision for the future
    Requests for more details on what alternatives look like. (Junebug, Jamison2Carter)
    Abolitionist theory more broadly to economic and climate justice (Strick)

    2)Questions/comments on public safety and deterrence.
    Human nature argument, punishment as deterrence (RJ, Catamount)
    Police as a legitimate institution. Do cops make us safer? (Shoo)

    3)General "why not reform", "baby out with bathwater" (ADT, Jamison)
    To flip this around, I’d love to hear people offer arguments FOR prisons and police and provide data indicating that prisons and police are fulfilling those arguments.

    It seems to me that a civilized society should have the burden of justifying the use of collective violence (prisons and far too often police) or the threat of collective violence (police) on the individual. I’d love to hear our resident libertarians and small-government Republicans weigh in.

  10. #90
    Quote Originally Posted by ImTheCaptain View Post
    what about all the things shoo asked about here that no one addressed:
    um

    Quote Originally Posted by MHBDemon View Post
    I've tried to summarize some of the major recurring questions/responses that I'll try to address as soon as I can. Tell me if you would like me to add anything:

    1)Vision for the future
    Requests for more details on what alternatives look like. (Junebug, Jamison2Carter)
    Abolitionist theory more broadly to economic and climate justice (Strick)

    2)Questions/comments on public safety and deterrence.
    Human nature argument, punishment as deterrence (RJ, Catamount)
    Police as a legitimate institution. Do cops make us safer? (Shoo)

    3)General "why not reform", "baby out with bathwater" (ADT, Jamison)

  11. #91
    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Gossett Jr View Post
    I think at the beginning of this argument you already have a problem because people are arguing from two different beliefs in people. Those that believe most people are good and therefore society is technically good and those that believe most people are bad. History, especially recent history probably points to there are more bad people than most give credit for.
    I'll try to address this in the general "human nature" response, but what doesn't make sense is that crime has been going down as incarceration has skyrocketed. We live in an incredibly safe time in comparison to history, and INCARCERATE MORE PEOPLE THAN ANY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. Do you think human nature explains the difference in our incarceration rates to the rest of the world?

  12. #92
    I disagree with you
    ImTheCaptain's Avatar
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    what time is the lecture, professor

  13. #93
    Quote Originally Posted by RChildress107 View Post
    To flip this around, I’d love to hear people offer arguments FOR prisons and police and provide data indicating that prisons and police are fulfilling those arguments.

    It seems to me that a civilized society should have the burden of justifying the use of collective violence (prisons and far too often police) or the threat of collective violence (police) on the individual. I’d love to hear our resident libertarians and small-government Republicans weigh in.
    Agreed. I think those arguments would be helpful to engage in.

    I don't have my Attica book on me, but there is some great background in Blood in the Water, about historical political perspectives on prisons, including a time in and around those historical prison strikes, where it was a much more accepted viewpoint that prisons had failed and we should get rid of them. Political prisoners asked for republican legislators to come meet with them. Republicans were calling for 10 year moratoriums on prison construction.

  14. #94
    Rusty Larue

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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Gossett Jr View Post
    I think at the beginning of this argument you already have a problem because people are arguing from two different beliefs in people. Those that believe most people are good and therefore society is technically good and those that believe most people are bad. History, especially recent history probably points to there are more bad people than most give credit for.
    I think almost all people are capable of being evil and almost all people are capable of being good. I also think people have far less control over which they end up being than they think they do. And while I believe that prisons aren’t very effective at preventing people from behaving badly, that’s not the primary reason I want to abolish them.

  15. #95
    I understand the argument with the belief that prisons in themselves are criminal therefore if you put people in prison, the number of people in there, how it effects their future, you are creating a worse outcome if there was no prison. Which I think is a too black and white outlook. If you commit murder, prey on children and the like then good make prison as shitty or even shittier than it is now.

    I agree however the number of people and why they are in there is a huge problem, drug offenses, lack of mental health, simple socioeconomic factors etc... that’s where I fall on the reform side instead of the abolish side of things. The Data I would like to see is data that eliminates the number of people incarcerated for what reformers believe is unjust, leaving murders, violent crime, rape, things like that, then made as a percentage of the population over time and worldwide, my hypothesis is there are always evil shitty people that stay constant throughout time, what percent of the population that is and how to deal with that percent is unknown if not prisons.

  16. #96
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    Whereas there are tons of people who don't belong in prison and can be reconnected with society, it's naive, irrational and dangerous to completely abolish prisons for all offenders.

  17. #97
    Rusty Larue

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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Gossett Jr View Post
    I understand the argument with the belief that prisons in themselves are criminal therefore if you put people in prison, the number of people in there, how it effects their future, you are creating a worse outcome if there was no prison. Which I think is a too black and white outlook. If you commit murder, prey on children and the like then good make prison as shitty or even shittier than it is now.

    I agree however the number of people and why they are in there is a huge problem, drug offenses, lack of mental health, simple socioeconomic factors etc... that’s where I fall on the reform side instead of the abolish side of things. The Data I would like to see is data that eliminates the number of people incarcerated for what reformers believe is unjust, leaving murders, violent crime, rape, things like that, then made as a percentage of the population over time and worldwide, my hypothesis is there are always evil shitty people that stay constant throughout time, what percent of the population that is and how to deal with that percent is unknown if not prisons.
    Just to clarify, I don’t think prisons are criminal per se (though most of ours are), I think they are an act of violence per se.

    I vehemently disagree with your “let murderers rot” justification but I understand the sentiment. That’s a different conversation though. Justifying prisons as an act of societal vengeance is different than deterrence or safety justifications.

    And again, I think if we are using collective violence as an act of vengeance, we have the burden of justifying which crimes deserve prison, not the other way around.

  18. #98
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    I also think it’s worth pointing out (and then moving past) that no prisons =\= no involuntary confinement. The argument that this is a distinction without a difference only seems to come up when people start to talk about abolishing prisons.

    Most of us understand that there are pretty distinct differences between prisons, jails, ankle bracelets, mental health institutions, probation, guardianships, and other more temporary forms of involuntary confinement (a school lockdown for instance).

    To me, prison abolition is specifically about removing involuntary confinement as a tool of the criminal justice system, leaving open the question of when, if ever, involuntary confinement is an appropriate use of societal power.

  19. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJKarl View Post
    Whereas there are tons of people who don't belong in prison and can be reconnected with society, it's naive, irrational and dangerous to completely abolish prisons for all offenders.
    What are the rational reasons for imprisoning offenders? And which offenders do those reasons universally apply to?

  20. #100
    Quote Originally Posted by RChildress107 View Post
    What are the rational reasons for imprisoning offenders? And which offenders do those reasons universally apply to?
    Separation from society. There are some crimes that necessitate removing the offender from normal societal life, and in American history even the earliest colonies such as Massachusetts Bay had primitive jail cells for moderate crimes and even exile for the most severe crimes (and what is exile if not the greatest of separations from society). There are a multitude of reasons why prisons are necessary for a stable society, but the biggest issue is how those prisons are funded and what motivations those in power have for populating those prisons.

    I am of the opinion that there should be no private prisons whatsoever. All aspects of the criminal justice system should use public funds. To do this, funding would need to increase greatly and there would need to be aggressive endeavors towards reducing the amount of crimes that require jail time (not to mention reducing the number of crimes, period). But there still needs to be some mechanism of holding a select group of citizens separate from society at large due to inherent risks in crimes committed, mental state, and overarching benefit to communities.

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