Prison's Don't Make Us Safer

Just to keep it 100, I don't believe that prison is a solution to disappearing social problems. I think that people can and do have transformative experiences in prison but I believe that it is in spite of as opposed to because of it.

Slave patrols and Night Watches, which later became modern police departments, were both designed to protect the 'property' of slaveowners. Enslaved African people were that property. "Slave patrols helped to maintain the economic order and to assist the wealthy landowners in recovering and punishing (enslaved African people) who essentially were considered property." That is still largely what they do.http://www.plsonline.eku.edu/insidelook/brief-history-slavery-and-origins-american-policing. I think that as Black people it is important that we set up community based supports so when we need help, we have places to call with people who aren't going to murder us. Neighborhood watches, healing justice spaces. With folks that I know may be vulnerable for violence, I have been part of a phone tree of people they can call in an emergency. Structures like this are important for finding ways to navigate violence circumventing increasing levels of violence from service providers. These structures have been flexible and changing and have always been more reliable than anything external.

I don't think that counseling programs that are set up by these racist white institutions run by people who hate Black men and Black people are ever going to work to 'rehabilitate' our communities. They might provide a service, but they don't provide care. When I ask for more in these situations of domestic violence I am thinking of community based healing work, transformative justice, things that would involve our peers, that involve Black women, other Black people - I am interested in the ways that we change families, and communities and shift paradigms. As Black people we transform the world all the time! From Hip Hop to Jazz, we impact culture globally - what makes us think that we couldn't heal the world if we believed in our capacity to? 

I am so interested in movements around transformative justice and prison abolition. Generation 5 has some really amazing approacheshttp://www.generationfive.org/ or justice circles as held by Indigenous communities across North America http://www.restorativejustice.org/press-room/05rjprocesses.

The things that are currently in place clearly don't work and prison definitely doesn't. If prison worked, the United States would be the safest country in the world. With only 5% of the worlds population with 25% of the worlds prison population. I am suggesting that things should be radically different. Why keep doing things that fundamentally don't work and make our communities less safe? Maybe we should have folks go live in a monastery, be taught meditation by Tibetan monks who have been known to have phenomenal control of their minds - but prison does not produce men who respect Black women more than when they went in. No one will ever convince me that is an appropriate solution to ending violence or any social problem at all.