Category Archives: abolitionist

Issue #18 / Fall 2012: Surveillance

Theme: Surveillance

  • Letter from the Editors.
  • Watching the Olympics: Understanding and Resisting Surveillance of Mass Events. By Rachel Herzing and Isaac Ontiveros. The 2012 London Summer Olympics saw an increase in surveillance throughout that city. Such events are sites of legalization and normalization of a culture of surveillance: they extend and expand the criminalization of populations labeled as threats by the state.
  • Letters to the Editors. Readers chime in about Irish political prisoners and Marilyn Buck’s passing.
  • Your Cellphone, Surveillance Device. An infographic by Renee Perry, using info from Cellphone security basics.
  • Networking Rebellion: Digital Policing and Revolt in the Arab Uprisings. By Ian Alan Paul and David Zlutnick. On censorship and policing as well as resistance in the Arab Uprisings.
  • Nothing to Lose But Our Chains: Organizing Under Surveillance. An interview with Ashanti Alston and Masai Ehehosi, with Molly Porzig. The Critical Resistance and Black Panther Party/Black Liberation Army organizers talk about how to organize under the threat of surveillance.
  • California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Secret Surveillance Program. By Kijana Tashiri Askari. Pelican Bay prison’s “Communications Management Unit” surveils prisoners to try to keep them from organizing inside.
  • Fertilizer for the Grassroots. By Inger P. Brinck. Conservative foundations and other funding sources attempt to eliminate radical activism by withdrawing their financial support.
  • Surveillance vs. Social Security. An infographic by Oliver Spires. The incredibly high costs of state surveillance, as compared to the cost of living.
  • Surveillance: 1900s to Present. Compiled by Kamau Walton. A timeline with major state surveillance landmarks.
  • Exodus 2012. By D’Andre Moore. A current prisoner’s call to end surveillance of oppressed people, particularly immigrant communities.
  • USA’s Prison Industrial Complex Moves South of the Border. By Nasim Chatha (reprinted from the Alliance for Global Justice). The United States exports its draconian style of imprisonment to Central and South America.
  • Book ReviewsFrank M. Ahearn with Eileen C. Horan: How to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, and Vanish Without a Trace (Lyons Press, 2010); review by Jay Donahue. Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith: Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (AK Press, 2011); review by David Gilbert. David Gilbert, Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground and Beyond (PM Press, 2012); review by Eric A. Stanley.

Thanks to all our contributors and translators!
Ashanti Alston
Kijana Tashiri Askari
Inger P. Brink
Nasim Chatha
Jay Donahue
Masai Ehehosi
David Gilbert
Rachel Herzing
Larry James DeRossett
D’Andre Moore
Isaac Ontiveros
Ian Paul
Renee Perry
Oliver Spires
Eric A. Stanley
David Zlutnick
Kentaro Kaneko
Andrea Salinas
Luigi Celentano
Susana Draper
Leah Furumo
Armando Hernandez
Alma Muñoz
Sylvia Romo
Andrea Salinas
Gabriel Torres
Alfonso Tovar
Alia Trindle
Benjamin Wood

Issue #17 / Summer 2012

Theme: Prisoner Resistance!

  • Letter from the Editors.
  • Human Needs Over Profit. With Molly Porzig. An interview with Diana Block (California Coalition for Women Prisoners) and Manuel La Fontaine (All of Us or None) about the Occupy Prisons Movement and the Occupy National Day of Support of Prisoners.
  • From N.C.T.T. Corcoran SHU to the Occupy Movement. By New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (NARN) Colloners in Corcoran’s Security Housing Unit. A message from prisoner organizers in the Corcoran SHU to the Occupy movement on the outside.
  • America is a Prison Industrial Complex. Statement from Jalil Muntaqim read at Occupy’s National Day of Support of Prisoners San Quentin February 20, 2012.
  • PFLP Leader Abdel-Alim Da’na Speaks. By Ben Lorber. Interview with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader. (Originally appeared in the Electronic Intifada.)
  • How We Get By. By Toshio Meronek with Regina Diamond, Faith Phillips, and Lala. Ex- and current prisoners relate how they made life a little more livable while dealing with extreme gender regulation.
  • From the Inside Out. By Kamau Walton. Interviews with Amelia Kirby, Sylvia Ryerson, and John “Mac” Gaskins of WMMT and Juliet Fox of 3CR, who run prison-focused radio programs in the U.S. and Australia.
  • Prisoner Led Organizing in São Paulo, Brazil. By Andrea Salinas. A short history of the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), a prisoner-led resistance group in Brazil.
  • HIV/AIDS Prison Organizing. With Ritika Aggarwal. An interview with Laura Whitehorn, the revolutionary ex-prisoner who speaks about her work on getting HIV/AIDS education and prevention, and treatment into prisons.
  • War Behind Walls. By the Red Family, Peoples Press, and friends. Abridged anti-prison industrial complex pamphlet from 1971. (Special thanks to the Freedom Archives.)
  • The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons. By Justin Piché. What the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons is, and how far it’s come over the past 25 years.
  • Resisting the War on Gangs (Inside and Out). By Isaac Ontiveros and Rachel Herzing. On the targeting of gangs by law enforcement, including organizing against gang injunctions, and the work of hunger strikers inside.

Thanks to all our contributors and translators!
Diana Block
Kate Conway
Abdel-Alim Da’ana
Regina Diamond
Susana Draper
Juliet Fox
John “Mac” Gaskins
Rachel Herzing
Amelia Kirby
Manuel La Fontaine
Ben Lorber
Jalil Muntaqim
Isaac Ontiveros
Faith Phillips
Justin Piché
Sylvia Ryerson
Laura Whitehorn
Luigi Celentano
Susana Draper
Leah Furumo
Aries Jaramillo
Kentaro Kaneko
Alma Munoz
Lynne Purvis
Amy Smith
Gabriel Torres
Alfonso Tovar
Alia Trindle
Benjamin Wood

Issue #16 / Spring 2012

Theme: Life After the Prison Industrial Complex

  • Letter from the Editors.
  • Letters. Reader Gil Serrano describes why reform and abolition aren’t one and the same.
  • More Than “Education, Not Incarceration.” By Erica Meiners. Why access to education is a human right, and how we can rebuild an education system that leaves no one behind.
  • Verses. What If. Mustapha, who is imprisoned at Centinela State Prison in California, wrote this issue’s poem.
  • A World Without Walls: Stopping Harm & Abolishing the Prison Industrial Complex. By Mimi Kim (Creative Interventions), Morgan Bassichis (Communities United
    Against Violence), Felipe Hernandez, RJ Maccani & Gaurav Jashnani (Challenging Male Supremacy Project) and Bench and Jenna Peters-Golden (Philly Stands Up). Workgroup member Molly Porzig poses five questions to organizers with four abolition-minded groups, such as: What is the role of community accountability/ transformative justice in abolishing the prison industrial complex? How do we make accountability systemic or community-based rather than focused on individual people or harms? And what could “safe spaces” or “safety” look like, and, more importantly, how could we sustain them once the PIC is abolished?
  • Accountability Road Map. By Philly Stands Up. An Accountability Road Map sketches out a process to give it structure while clarifying intentions, goals and allowing you to get a sense of the trajectory and the big picture.
  • Critical Resistance Abolitionist Organizing Toolkit.Two exercises from CR’s organizing toolkit, created by members in 2003, that are meant to help people imagine alternatives to the PIC.
  • Alternatives: Instead of Prisons. By the Prison Research Education Action Project. Reveals restitution as another strategy for dismantling the prison industrial complex while building collective responses to interpersonal and state violence today and in the future.
  • Architecture Beyond Prisons. With Toshio Meronek. An interview with Raphael Sperry of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, explaining the role architects and designers can play in helping to end the prison industrial complex.
  • Life after Prisons: What’s the Environment Got to Do With It? By Rose Braz and Craig Gilmore. How the PIC keeps us from having a truly sustainable world.
  • Youth Speaking Out for Youth. By Project WHAT! Youth, with Andrea Salinas. Kids with currently imprisoned or formerly imprisoned parents speak up about their needs and expectations.
  • Real Mental Health Solutions Necessitate Abolition. By Rights for Imprisoned People with Psychiatric Disabilities. On ending the criminalization of people with disabilities, including first-hand stories and solutions offered by current and formerly imprisoned people with disabilities.
  • Labor After the PIC. By Zachary Ontiveros. Editorial describing how society’s views around labor must change if we can ever have a world beyond the PIC.
  • Infographic. California alone spends $1,038,813 per hour on prisons. What else could that money buy?

Thanks to all our contributors and translators!

Morgan Bassichis
Evan Bissell
Rose Braz
Craig Calderwood
Lydia Crumbley
Jason Fritz-Michael
Felipe Hernández
Gaurav Jashnani
JustSeeds Collective
Mimi Kim
RJ Maccani
Erica Meiners
Jenna Peters-Golden
Prison Research Education/Action Project
Project WHAT!
Rights for Imprisoned People with Psychiatric Disabilities
Carlos Sabater
Gil Serrano
Raphael Sperry
Cheyanne Torres
Mary Tremonte
Jose Villarreal
Luigi Celentano
Susana Draper
Alaina Farabaugh
Leah Furumo
Kentaro Kaneko
Alma Munoz
Lynne Purvis
Alfonso Tovar
Alia Trindle
Benjamin Wood

Issue #15 / Summer 2011

  • Letter from the Editors.
  • Resources.
  • Vicissitudes. We dedicate this issue to the life and work of Marilyn Buck. Reprinted are one of her poems (“The Freedom to Breathe”); another poem from Alexis Pauline Gumbs (“Catch”); and Yuri Kochiyama’s words from Marilyn’s Bay Area Memorial.
  • Taking Stock of Critical Resistance. An update on Critical Resistance’s work and that of our chapters around the U.S.
  • Prisoner Submission: “Unity.” By Yskari Yero Douglas. Why unity is so important in social struggles, and how to achieve it. Includes a diagram on the Consensus model of decision-making.
  • Free ’Em All: Carrying the Legacy of Prisoner-Led Resistance in Georgia. Interview with Eugene Thomas. Eugene Thomas is currently imprisoned at Reidsville, in Georgia. He gives an insider’s perspective on the recent Georgia Prison Strikes.
  • Alternatives: Relying on Community Organizations
    Instead of the Police (A Story from the StoryTelling and Organizing Project).
    A Creative Interventions interview in which the story-teller describes supporting an intervention that relied on a community organization instead of the cops.
  • Labor: The Prison Industrial Complex is Class Warfare. By Michael Callahan. Primitive accumulation, surplus labor, discipline, and slavery are among the topics discussed in this issue’s Labor column.
  • Testing the Borders: Interview: Border Action Network (Featuring Jennifer Allen, Executive Direction of BAN). With Andrea Salinas. An interview with the director of Border Action Network, which has been fighting against racist policies such as Arizona’s SB1070, which legalizes racial profiling. The interview speaks to the struggles of migrants and people of color.
  • Labor Notes: Georgia Prisoners Go On Strike.
  • First Nations: Eagles in the Iron House: Supporting Native Prisoners in South Dakota. By Marletta Pacheco with Bettina Escauriza. We highlight the work of a support group for imprisoned South Dakotan people of color.
  • Action Alert. On the upcoming Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit hunger strike.
  • Coming Home: Life After Lock-up for Transgender People: Tips from Grace Lawrence of the Trangender, Gender Variant, & Intersex Justice Project. With Toshio Meronek. A transgender activist gives her take on surviving life after prison.
  • News Briefs. Uprisings in the Middle East (Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Oman); Youngstown Prison Victory; Prison Strike and Retaliation in Georgia; Hunger Strikes Demands Changes for Greek Prisoners and Immigrants; Paramilitary Training Camp Planned for U.S.-Mexican Border; Political Prisoners Escape in Chaibasa; Thousands Rally for Right to Organize in Wisconsin; PA Judge Accepts Kickbacks; New Jersey 4 Update; Leonard Peltier Awaits Transfer.

Issue #14 / Winter 2011

  • Letter from the Editors.
  • Letter to the Editors: Humanity Within Me. By Beverly Moore.
  • Instead of Prisons. By the Prison Research Education Action Project. We reprint a chapter of a 1976 abolitionist handbook, which outlines important ideas to incorporate into anti-prison industrial complex work.
  • News Briefs. Compiled by Ritika Aggarwal, Toshio Meronek and Helia Rasti. Court Challenges to CA Death Penalty Lifted; CA Supreme Court Limits Court’s Power for Releasing Life-Term Prisoners; San Francisco Crime Lab Misconduct Causes Case Dismissals; Medical Parole Bill (SB 1399) Approved by CA Governor; Budget Cuts Lead to Prison Closure Proposals in Oregon; Arizona Passes Controversial Immigration Bill SB 1070; Court Rejects Fair Wages for Imprisoned People; CDCR Uses Bait-and-Switch to Trick People on Parole.
  • Coming Home: Strategies for a Successful Re-Entry Plan. By Robert Delello. The first President of the National Prisoners Reform Association (former prisoner Dellelo) lays out ways to help former prisoners thrive once on the outside.
  • Working, Inside and Out of Cages: An Introduction to The Abolitionist’s New Labor Column. By Michael Callahan.
  • Labor / Blast from the Past: History of the Prisoners’ Union. By John Irwin and Willie Holder. A reprint from The Outlaw: The Journal of the Prisoners Union describes work being done in the early 1970s to promote fair labor policies inside prisons.
  • The Federal Bonding Program – A U.S. Department of Labor Initiative. A brief explanation of the Program, a tool which may help ex-prisoners with the tough job of finding employment.
  • Interview with Robert Perkinson (Texas Tough). By Edward Hu. An interview with the author of a new book on the capitalist and racist undercurrents of the Texas prison industry.
  • Labor Notes: Georgia Prisoners Go On Strike.
  • Youth: Locked Up & Out: LGBT Youth Speak Up. By Toshio Meronek. Queer youths share stories from inside Louisiana’s youth prisons.
  • Alternatives: He Korero Iti – A Small Story. By Di. Family members protect a youth from violent punishment at his father’s hand.
  • Testing the Borders: We Don’t Want Just Any Immigration Reform! By Renee Saucedo. Why we can’t afford to support federal policies that fall short of being truly fair.
  • Whose Streets?: Creating Something New: Resisting While Working Towards Alternatives. By Catherine Hollenbeck and Sara Libby, Rose City Copwatch. Organizers in Portland, Oregon dedicated to policing the police tell of two community-based alternatives to calling the cops.
  • Resources.

Issue #13 / Fall 2010

  • Whose Streets?: Sitting Around San Francisco: Challenges to Quality of Life Policing. By Rachel Herzing. San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon and Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts are following LA Chief William Bratton’s lead by shifting their focus to “maintaining order”, rather than fighting crime–impacting those who are already marginalized such as disabled people and people of color.
  • Letter From the Editors.
  • Letter to the Editor: The Fear Mongering of Early Releases. By Dortell Williams. Demonization of prisoners as “dangerous” is leading to public disapproval of early releases.
  • News Briefs. Compiled by Raia Small. 9th Circuit Overturns Washington’s Felony Voting Ban; Democracy Restoration Act Could Enfranchise People with Felony Convictions; The Boutique Prison Business Continues to Find New Markets; FBI Illegally Collected More Than 2,000 Call Records; Los Angeles Cuts Civilian Jobs, Hires More Cops; California Governor Proposes to House Prisoners in Mexico; Immigrants at Texas Detention Center Strike Against Conditions; Obama’s Spending Plan Increases Prison Budget; Cell Phones Jammed in Maryland Prisons; Former Cop Pleads Guilty to Shooting Cover-up after Hurricane Katrina; Black and Latino Men Face Longer Sentences.
  • Youth: The Safety Zone: Oakland’s Plan of Displacement Met With Community Resistance. By Savannah Kilner with Maisha Quint and Jack Bryson. Gang injunctions that are ineffective against “real” crime are now being enforced in Oakland; they target marginalized communities and help promote gentrification.
  • First Nations: Iron House. By Robert Morales. Repression is overwhelming at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility at California’s Corcoran Prison Complex, and is particularly harmful to locked-up Native Americans.
  • Prisoner Submission: What’s Weird About It? By Jon Marc Taylor. The U.S. fuels more and more money into prisons while providing little support for ex-prisoners to succeed on the outside.
  • Alternatives: Community Responds to Domestic Violence (a story from the StoryTelling and Organizing Project [STOP]). Introduction by Jay Donohue and Molly Porzig. A mother responds to domestic violence not by calling the police, but by working out a system whereby friends and neighbors check in on her for safety’s sake, while her mom acts as a liaison with her former partner.
  • Testing the Borders: La Policia, la Migra, la Misma Porqueria: Popular Resistance to State Violence, Part II. By Mariana Viturro. U.S. institutions such as prisons are reinforcing anti-immigrant, racist ideologies, while opponents are finding grassroots methods of combating them.
  • Critical Conditions: Transitions Clinic. By Sarah Jarmon. An interview with Community Health Worker Juanita Alvarado at a clinic in San Francisco that is geared toward the needs of former prisoners.
  • Coming Home: The Attack on In-Home Support Services and Formerly Incarcerated Caregivers. By Molly Porzig with Linda Evans. As policing and prison budgets rise, social services budgets, including that of California’s In-Home Support Services, are being cut. Included in the Schwarzenegger-supported cuts: what amounts to more employment obstacles for former prisoners.
  • Viccisitudes. With Pam Faden. Abolitionist columnist Marilyn Buck has died. We salute her work and print one of Marilyn’s poems, “Autobiographi”.

Issue #11 / Winter 2010

  • Resisting the Violence of Policing: Oakland Responds to the Murder of Oscar Grant, III. By Rachel Herzing. How we can seek justice for the murder of Oscar Grant without further empowering the PIC.
  • Dear Reader.
  • Letters to the Editor.
  • Fundraising Letter from Ari.
  • News Briefs. George Runner and new initiative to limit voting rights for people on probation; prison and jail growth slowing—16 states report declining of people in prison; AB900 update: CA prepares to expand 2 Kern prisons; NY: “Drop the Rock” proposal to remove harsh mandatory minimums; organizations oppose extension of “hate crimes” legislation; judge tosses some prop. 9 restrictions on CA parolee rights; CA budget to cut prison spending by $1.2 billion; court orders CA to cut prison population; judge rejects ending prison health oversight; to cut costs, states relax prison policies; governor approves new San Quentin death row; opposition to death penalty in CA voiced at hearing on lethal injection; prison officials had warning that a disturbance was likely in Chino; Scott State Prison in Baldwin, GA slated for closure; MI offers to house CA prisoners.
  • Prisoner Submission: Politics, Profits and Prisoners. By Dortell Williams. Why CA voters made the wrong decision in voting down prop. 5: the Non-Violent Offender Act of 2008, which would’ve seen the release of thousands of people imprisoned for non-violent crimes.
  • Critical Conditions: Healthy Aging in Prisons. By Sarah Jarmon. Tips for getting older and keeping your health while in prison, from the organization Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.
  • Testing the Borders: Detention, Deporation, and the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions: An Overview. By Raha Jorjani. Criminal convictions are one way the ICE finds, and then often deports, immigrants.
  • Blast from the Past: From The Iron Fist and the Velvet Glove: An Analysis of the U.S. Police. By Social Justice/Global Options. In conjunction with the Freedom Archives, we bring you an article from 1977 (eerily relevant even today) exploring the militarization of policing and the counterinsurgency models being used by police organizations against targeted communities.
  • First Nations: Organizing to Abolish the PIC (a conversation with Morning Star Gali and Bettina Escauriza). With Isaac Ontiveros. On the First Nations Gathering (a convention intended to form solidarity between indigenous groups) that convened just prior to CR10.
  • The Denial of My Parole: I Am Barack Obama’s Prisoner Now. By Leonard Peltier. The author laments the U.S. government’s contempt for indigenous people and political prisoners.
  • My Statement on the SF8 Plea Agreement. By Jalil A Muntaqim. The author explains why he decided to accept a plea bargain.
  • Vicissitudes: Alternatives While Waiting: Self-Reliance. By Marilyn Buck. Why we should make education a priority, inside and out of prisons.
  • Prisoner Submission: Lockdown: The Grim Reality. By Robert Morales. On the injustice of solitary confinement.
  • Coming Home: Overview of CA’s Parole Consideration Process. By UnCommon Law. (With a Guide to Lifer Support Letters sidebar.) A quick summary of how the CA parole board makes its decisions.
  • When the Prisoners Ran Walpole: From Union Cards to Pass Cards: Picking Up the Pieces. By Michael Callahan. The second in a series: An examination of the legacy of the National Prisoners Reform Association and the prisoners’ uprising at Walpole State Prison in MA.
  • Reader Survey.
  • Resources.