12 Steps Beyond Prisons
|Read Carol Estes' review of Beyond Prisons|
Advocate not just the abolition of prisons, but the abolition of a system based on punishment, revenge, and violence
Decriminalize social problems
Decrease the use of incarceration to solve social problems such as mental illness, homelessness, drug addiction.
Eliminate Solitary Confinement
Charles Dickens once observed, “I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.”
Work Inside as Long as Necessary
Work in solidarity with the imprisoned, the survivors, and the family members, but do not turn your back on anyone struggling within the system, including guards, judges, police officers. Be truthful about the injustices you witness.
Create independent citizen review bodies that include ex-prisoners and family members to oversee police work, all locked facilities, and community-based programs using public funds.
Create a Prisoner’s Bill of Rights
Guarantee that a person whose freedom has been taken away retains full due-process and legal rights as well as basic human rights. Prisoners should have the rights to vote, sign contracts, marry, and inherit property.
Protect the Rights of Released Prisoners
Parole hearings should focus on the future, not on the original crime. Survivors should not be permitted to testify at parole hearings, and survivors should not be appointed to the parole board simply because they are survivors.
Amend the Thirteenth Amendment
The U.S. Constitution permits “slavery and involuntary servitude” as a punishment for crime. Amend the Thirteenth Amendment to establish consistent minimum standards for everyone.
Implement International Law
The U.S. has violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It is one of two countries (Somalia is the other) that have not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Let Children be Children
Instead of passing laws that treat juveniles as if they were adults, invest in our children and in our future by fully funding education, from pre-school through university.
Reclaim Families and Communities
The estimated additional cost of achieving and maintaining universal access to basic education for all, basic health care for all, reproductive health care for all women, adequate food for all, and safe water and sanitation for all is roughly $40 billion a year,…less than 4 percent of the combined wealth of the 225 richest people in the world.
Campaign for Reparations
Seek reparations for a wide range of injustices, such as the legacy of slavery and the extermination, relocation, and robbery of First Nations people and others. True justice can occur only in the context of social and economic justice.
Adapted from Beyond Prisons: A New Interfaith Paradigm for Our Failed Prison System by Laura Magnani & Harmon L. Wray
Read Carol Estes' review of the book.
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