Truthout - November 19, 2019
Every aspect of modern incarceration has been meticulously engineered to threaten and shatter all sense of self-worth and to drain the mind and soul of all vigor and clarity: every filthy toilet, every rotten apple, every oven-hot cell, every act of control, coercion, violence, isolation.
Prison is punishment. Prison is racism. Prison is vengeance. Prison is the criminalization of poverty, the institutional oppression and enslavement disproportionately and intentionally inflicted upon the descendants of enslaved people. Prison is NOT rehabilitation. Prison does NOT prevent or reduce crime. Prison IS slavery.
According to a 2018 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 2.2 million adults were held in America’s prisons and jails at the end of 2016. That’s 2.2 million adults who did NOT benefit from evidence-based substance abuse or mental health treatment. That’s 2.2 million adults whose trauma and victimization were NOT addressed and treated as the root cause of the circumstances leading to their incarceration — 2.2 million lives with dimmer prospects and far less hope.
The everyday brutality and indignity of prison life is compounded by the aching separation of parents from their children. This pain is ever more profound from the perspective of children landing in foster care who lose everything they have ever known and loved.
Open your eyes and your heart. Listen to the stories of those personally impacted and imprisoned. Try to imagine a better, more humane world. This world is possible. Healing is possible. #FreeHer. #FreeThemAll.
Second Annual #FreeHer Conference in Montgomery, Alabama
From Oct. 4 to 6, 2019, the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls (the Council) hosted the Second Annual Free Her Conference at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel located in Montgomery, Alabama. The conference was a reimagining of communities and convening of ideas, resources and trainings that connected talented activists with movement elders to support local initiatives to organize toward a shared goal of criminal legal reform and prison abolition.
#FreeHer2019 began with a tour of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in Montgomery, Alabama, on a site that was once a warehouse for human chattel. Montgomery was the port city most active in slave trading, and the Legacy Museum is an impassioned reminder of the racism this so-called land of the free was built upon.
The museum welcomes visitors with an exhibit featuring five slave pens with holographic figures and sounds of hushed whispers. From that moment on we are haunted by the ghosts of a hundred thousand slaves dead from a lifetime of subjugation and imprisonment. The museum poignantly highlights the savagery of life in the American South pre- and post-slavery: the forced servitude, the 4,400 lynched men, women and children, to the current day enslavement of Black people in our prisons and jails.
Read full report at Truthout