A link that Prisonsucks.com has to offer is “Nine Perspectives for Prison Abolitionists.” This was a helpful handbook for me because it solidified my views as a prison abolitionist, which is an extremely leftist approach to the Prison Industrial complex. The main points that led me to become a prison abolitionist were:
1. The multibillion-dollar industry of prisons and using prison labor feeds off of the powerless and voiceless of our country in order to financially benefit.
2. Rehabilitation has become non-existent part of the criminal justice system. Instead, the goal of prisons has become more about obedience and punishment.
3. The atmosphere of prisons has become hopeless, and the inmates have become a number, they are no longer human once they are incarcerated.
So, the main issue with these three points is that they explain how the prison system has violated human rights and civil rights. These are a problem for the larger community and society as a whole because if these prisoners are not being rehabilitated at all, they are going to fall into the same pattern when they are released. Prisoners are not going to automatically have the resources to become law-abiding citizens when they are released if they are not given them while they are incarcerated. Examples of this “rehabilitation” might be, education, social responsibility training, job training, learning about their individual skills and what they have to offer society. Everyone has something positive to offer this world and many prisoners have become so hopeless because of the oppression that they feel on the outside and inside, they do not know this about themselves. Therefore, helping prisoners to realize what they can give to the world and what their purpose is, becomes a huge part of rehabilitation and recognizing that these inmates are actually humans that deserve the same things that everyone does. The simple fact that someone makes a mistake in their life weather it be selling drugs or commiting murder does not mean that they are worthless. But, this is the message that they are being told by our current criminal justice system and so this is why I am so committed to changing this system. Prisonsucks.com gives these nine vies to begin this movement for change in the prison industrial complex:
Perspective 1: Imprisonment is morally reprehensible and indefensible and must be abolished. In an enlightened free society, prison cannot endure or it will prevail. Abolition is a long range goal; an ideal. The eradication of any oppressive system is not an easy task. But it is realizable, like the abolition of slavery or any liberation, so long as there is the will to engage in the struggle.
Perspective 2: The message of abolition requires "honest" language and new definitions. Language is related to power. We do not permit those in power to control our vocabulary. Using "system language" to call prisoners "inmates" or punishment "treatment," denies prisoners the reality of their experience and makes us captives of the old system. Our own language and definitions empower us to define the prison realistically.
Perspective 3: Abolitionists believe reconciliation, not punishment, is a proper response to criminal acts. The present criminal (in)justice systems focus on someone to punish, caring little about the criminal's need or the victim's loss. The abolitionist response seeks to restore both the criminal and the victim to full humanity, to lives of integrity and dignity in the community. Abolitionists advocate the least amount of coercion and intervention in an individual's life and the maximum amount of care and services to all people in the society.
Perspective 4: Abolitionists work with prisoners but always remain "nonmembers" of the established prison system. Abolitionists learn how to walk the narrow line between relating to prisoners inside the system and remaining independent and "outside" that system. We resist the compelling psychological pressures to be "accepted" by people in the prison system. We are willing to risk pressing for changes that are beneficial to and desired by prisoners. In relating to those in power, we differentiate between the personhood of system managers (which we respect) and their role in perpetuating an oppressive system.
Perspective 5: Abolitionists are "allies" of prisoners rather than traditional "helpers." We have forged a new definition of what is trulyhelpful to the caged, keeping in mind both the prisoner's perspective and the requirements of abolition. New insights into old, culture-laden views of the "helping relationship" strengthen our roles as allies of prisoners.
Perspective 6: Abolitionists realize that the empowerment of prisoners and ex-prisoners is crucial to prison system change. Most people have the potential to determine their own needs in terms of survival, resources and programs. We support self-determination of prisoners and programs which place more power in the hands of those directly affected by the prison experience.
Perspective 7: Abolitionists view power as available to each of us for challenging and abolishing the prison system. We believe that citizens are the source of institutional power. By giving support toÑor withholding support from-specific policies and practices, patterns of power can be altered.
Perspective 8: Abolitionists believe that crime is mainly a consequence of the structure of society. We devote ourselves to a community change approach. We would drastically limit the role of the criminal (in)justice systems. We advocate public solutions to public problems-greater resources and services for all people.
Perspective 9: Abolitionists believe that it is only in a caring community that corporate and individual redemption can take place. We view the dominant culture as more in need of "correction" than the prisoner. The caring communities have yet to he built.