Prison Abolition: Freedom and Dignity

Prison Abolition: Freedom and Dignity was written on April 19, 2021 by Rodadas Defensa MadreTierra and was translated by Jorge Miguel.

A world without prisons:

In a system of death such as the one we face today, the presence of prison walls constantly shows us the need to silence all of those who the State condemns as undesirable. Prisons exist to always remind us, through fear, that there are bodies and voices that make them uncomfortable. The carceral system works to dominate, making life a space ever closer to death.

State justice was created for a few, and we know that we are not included in this.  It is flawed and limited from the start. The path of uncertainty begins the moment you fall into the public prosecutor’s office. Your existence becomes a commodity, if you want freedom you must pay for it. Otherwise, the prison system makes sure that you get lost in its web. No one is there to help you: police, public defenders, lawyers and public prosecutors are all part of a well-planned choreography. The State know perfectly well how to put together case files and what words to use. Whether they rule in your favor or not depends solely on if you can pay before they make the ruling. 

The legal process when detained in preventive prisons is exhausting and confusing and is intertwined with a process of dehumanization both in treatment inside and the narrative of them by the State outside. Pretrial detention for prisoners represents an early sentence. 

The prison system has not only grown in its capacity to imprison more and more people, but also continues to hinder access to justice and this results in the commodification of justice. It doesn’t matter whether the crime you are accused of happened or not. The case files are perfectly put together to accuse you of anything, to make the charges worse, to create the image of the prisoner that best suits them. 

Life in prison does not respect human dignity. Torture and violence become the rule. Punishment seeks to discipline bodies and minds, the pedagogy of cruelty is the highest priority. No matter how many reforms are proposed to the prison system, it continues to fulfill its function of keeping thousands of vulnerable and racialized people imprisoned.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, prison overpopulation is increasing instead of decreasing. Today there are at least 12,000 more people in prison than at the beginning of the pandemic, mostly women. And women are most likely to be victims of the abuses of pretrial detention.  The already scarce possibilities of releasing people to avoid overcrowding have been further complicated as the judicial processes is working at limited capacity.

We call on all those who are accompanying cases of prisoners in the struggle, to build joint strategies to help us resist confinement and abandonment. It is urgent to break away from the idea that prison and punishment are a means to create justice. 

Break down the prison walls!

Burn the prisons and the society that needs it!