Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Thoughts on Crime and prisons.

*Work in progress*

" however optimistic may be our hopes, and rosy the future, the fact remains that delinquency and the fear of crime today prevents peaceful social relations, and it will certainly not disappear from one moment to the next following a revolution, however radical and thoroughgoing it may turn out to be"
-Errico Malatesta.

"We do not believe in the infallibility, nor even in the general goodness of the masses; on the contrary. But we believe even less in the infallibility and goodness of those who seize power and legislate, who consolidate and perpetuate the ideas and interests which prevail at any given moment. "-Errico Malatesta.


  •  There are so called crimes which currently are really challenges to the existing order  for example theft.
  • I think only things which harm individuals or the community including animals and nature should be considered crimes. Acts like assault, rape, murder  basically acts of violence. But also pollution etc.
  • Only acts which violate freedom, equality and solidarity should be considered crimes.
  • Crime cannot be considered in a vacuum. They often represent to some extent the failure of society.
  • We should tackle the causes of crime which are often the oppressions of society. That can only be ultimately achieved by revolution.
  • There will still be crime in a post- revolutionary society and we need means to deal with it. But we should avoid the oppressive ways of dealing with it currently.
  • I believe an anarcho - communist society will have the lest amount of crime.
  • I consider smacking of children to be violence. It teaches them to internalize violence is acceptable and that they should accept violence inflicted on them by 'social betters' like the police. Therefore it ends up encouraging oppression, hierarchy and authoritarianism. Surely it also is internalized in such that domestic abuse victims feel it was 'right' for them to be assaulted. 
  • I favour transformative and restorative justice instead of prisons ,capital punishment or  corporal punishment. I am  a prison abolitionist.We must seek alternatives to prisons, laws and current practices.
  •  I think safer spaces policies are the beginnings of these practices.
  • anarchists cannot give blueprints of what these alternatives will look like- that would assume prophecy and would also be very undemocratic . We do not have all the answers and no one should pretend we do. We shouldn't say nothing about them either though. We cannot give specifics for every case. We can merely compare solutions which express our principles and which solutions do this better.  We can offer guidelines and rules of thumb.
  • examples of good groups dealing with crime and prison abolition : INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence ,
  • The PIC is unnecessary for solving crime, ineffective in solving crime and requires the existence of a undemocratic  authoritarian society/ encourages the existence of such  a society.
  • The Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) profits from crime and from punishment. It has no interest in ending crime and has vested economic interest in not  truly solving it.
  • The PIC embodies and institutionalizes oppressions already existing in society. It embodies all of them, absolutely all of them. Furthermore all the oppressions existing in society support and encourage  the PIC.
  • The media play up fears of crime to support the PIC. Even if they do not aim to do this that's the result.
  • With increasing privatization of prisons esp in the UK,  corporations benefit from prisons.
  • The PIC is used to criminalize the poor especially the homeless.
  • The mentally ill should not be in prisons.
  • More money is spent on prisons than housing or education. "Schools not jails". "Education not incarceration".
  • Hiding people away does not end the causes of crime.
  • people who define as queer are disproportionately targeted by the PIC, law, police etc. 
  • The PIC removes people from society, removes control of solutions to crime from grassroots democratic control,  profits corporations, puts people in environments where they can be made more hostile/ exposed to more anti- social behaviours and ideologies i.e. is ineffective, does not end crime since crime still continues in prison, is used to suppress dissent/ punish the most oppressed and marginalised and worst of all  overwhelmingly targets the worst off e.g. people of colour, homeless etc. 
  • The PIC props up the failed war on drugs.
  • The PIC throws the most marginalized the most oppressed under the bus- the poor, the homeless, people of colour, indigenous people, LGBTq + people, those with mental illness etc
  •  The PIC is environmentally harmful wasting time and resources on massive scale.
  • Prison abolition is a long struggle requiring revolution.
  • Constructive mutually beneficial dialogue is important for working for a better world , for effective  direct democracy, for solidarity etc.
  • solutions to specific crimes should be dealt with locally,  in the community. They should be dealt with giving ultimate weight and consideration to the victim(s) of the crime/s while following anarchist principles. We should(with some possible exceptions in the case of oppressors)  oppose vigilantism or mob rule.  
  • We can work for reform of the PIC but we must not call for more prisons.
  • Prison abolitionism is opposed to the ide of accountable prisons/prison guards etc.




 Good quotes :-


  •  "Naturally the crimes we are talking about are anti-social acts. That is those which offend human feelings and which infringe the right of others to equality in freedom, and not the many actions which the penal code punishes simply because they offend against the privileges of the dominant classes. Crime, in our opinion, is any action which tends to consciously increase human suffering, it is the violation of the right of all to equal freedom and to the greatest possible enjoyment of material and moral well-being. "-Errico Malatesta.
  • "I imagine that no one would be prepared, theoretically, to deny that freedom understood in the sense of reciprocity, is the basic prerequisite of any civilisation, of "humanity"; but only anarchy represents its logical and complete realisation. On this assumption, he is a criminal-not against nature or the result of a metaphysical law, but against his fellow men and because the interests and feelings of others have been offended - whoever violates the equal freedom of others. And so long as such people exist, we must defend ourselves"-Errico Malatesta.
  • "One must eliminate all the social causes of crime, one must develop in man brotherly feelings, and mutual respect; one must, as Fourier put it, seek useful alternatives to crime."-Errico Malatesta.
  • "One can, with justification. fear that this necessary defence against crime could be the beginning of and the pretext for, a new system of oppression and privilege. It is the anarchists' mission to see that this does not happen. By seeking the causes of each crime and making every effort to eliminate them; by making it impossible for anybody to derive personal advantage out of the detection of crime, and leaving it to the interested groups themselves to take whatever steps they deem necessary for their defence; by accustoming oneself to consider criminals as brothers who have strayed. as sick people needing loving treatment, as one would for any hydro-phobe or dangerous lunatic - it will be possible to reconcile the complete freedom of all with defence against those who obviously and dangerously threaten it. Obviously this is possible. when crime will be reduced to sporadic, individual and truly pathological cases"-Errico Malatesta.
  • "These people if they lack the coercive powers to impose their ideas, only succeed in making a mockery of the best things; and if they have the power to command, make what is good hateful and encourage reaction. For us the carrying out of social duties must be a voluntary act, and one has the right to intervene with material force only against those who offend against others violently and prevent them from living in peace. Force, physical restraint, must only be used against attacks of violence and for no other reason than that of self-defence"-Errico Malatesta.
  • "But who will judge? Who will provide the necessary defence ? Who will establish what measures of restraint are to be used? We do not see any other way than that of leaving it to the interested parties, to the people, that is the mass of citizens, who will act in different ways according to the circumstances and according to their different degress of social development. One must, above all, avoid the creation of bodies specialising in police work, perhaps something will be lost in repressive efficiency but one will also avoid the creation of the instrument or every tyranny"-Errico Malatesta.
  • "For authoritarians and statesmen. the question is a simple one: a legislative body to list the crimes and prescribe the punishments; a police force to hunt out the delinquents; a magistrature to judge them and a prison service to make them suffer. And, as is understandable, the legislative body seeks through its penal laws to defend, above all established interest, which it represents, and to protect the State from those who seek to "subvert" it. The police force exists to suppress crime, and having therefore an interest in the continued existence of crime becomes provocative, and develops in its officers aggressive and perverse instincts; the magistrate also lives and prospers thanks to crime and delinquents, and serves the interests of the government and the ruling classes, and acquires, in the course of exercising its function, a special way of reasoning, which makes it into a machine for awarding a maximum number of people the longest sentences it can. The warders are, or become, insensitive to the suffering of prisoners and at best, passively observe the rules without a spark of human feeling. One sees the results in statistics on delinquency. The penal laws are changed, the police force and the magistrature are reorganised, the prison system is reformed, and delinquency persists and resists all attempts to destroy or reduce it. It is true of the past and the present, and we think it will apply in the future too. If the whole concept of crime is not changed, and all the organisms which live on the prevention and repression of delinquency are not abolished! "-Errico Malatesta.
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Good resources:-

Crime and Punishment by Errico Malatesta

Emma Goldman- Prisons: A Social Crime and Failure .

LAW AND AUTHORITY:  AN ANARCHIST ESSAY BY PETER KROPOTKIN.

Prison abolitionist Toolkit   http://criticalresistance.org/resources/the-abolitionist-toolkit/

brilliant short discussion of working for prison abolition http://criticalresistance.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Ab-Toolkit-Part-6.pdf

INCITE! Critical Resistance Statement  http://www.incite-national.org/page/incite-critical-resistance-statement

http://inciteblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/vikki-law-resisting-gender-violence-without-cops-or-prisons/

THE QUEER, FEMINIST & TRANS POLITICS OF PRISON ABOLITION - http://prisonercorrespondenceproject.com/QFT_prison_abolition_full.pdf
 
 
 
The Anarchist Black Cross http://www.abcf.net/
 
 
 
 
 
 

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