The editorial team at our partners, Bitch Media, have curated a list for 70 Million of features, guides, and articles about mass incarceration, racial inequity, and prison reforms:
The “If Project” Amplifies the Voices of Women Behind Bars, by Elizabeth King
The IF Project, a documentary about a collaborative program between prisons and police focused on “intervention, prevention, and reduction in incarceration and recidivism,” interviews inmates at the Washington Corrections Center for Women and the cop who heads the program, Kim Bogucki.
The Prison Paradox: Ending Mass Incarceration in the Era of Bill Cosby, by Jenn M. Jackson
In Cosby’s case, restorative-justice methods could have been instituted decades ago by acknowledging the experiences of the women he victimized—starting with believing them and holding him accountable. Instead, he used his power, wealth, and fame to bully his victims into silence or hide his crimes from the public eye with the help of a complicit media. In this instance, accountability looks like answering to the women whose lives were irrevocably changed because of his actions. It also looks like publicly addressing the advocates, fans, and lifelong followers who have supported Cosby’s career while unknowingly (or, in some cases, knowingly) supporting a sexual predator. And restorative justice centers those victims and survivors rather than focusing on Cosby or the system itself.
Rewriting the Future: Using Science Fiction to Re Envision Justice, by Walidah Imarisha
When I tell people I am a prison abolitionist and that I believe in ending all prisons, they often look at me like I rode in on a unicorn sliding down a rainbow. Even people engaged in social movements, people who concede that the current prison system is flawed, voice their critiques but always seem to add, “But it’s all we have.” For all of our ability to analyze and critique, the left has become rooted in what is. We often forget to envision what could be. We forget to mine the past for solutions that show us how we can exist in other forms in the future.
The Fragility of Legalization: Who’s Cashing in on Marijuana? By Ashley Duchemin
Those who are looking to profit from the booming marijuana industry are working hard to change perceptions of the drug by widening the gap between “criminals” and this new wave of “investors.” And since marijuana is federally illegal, regulations on who can—and can’t—work with cannabis largely excludes people who likely have been victims of the war on drugs, but there are some states taking steps toward system reform.
The Pain of Mothering Over a Payphone from Prison, by Sarah Mirk
The companies that provide phones for people in prison often tack on extra fees, making the calls even pricier. In a recent report, the FCC found that some private companies were charging $14 a minute for prison phone calls. For years, prison reform groups have been pushing hard for the FCC to stop price gouging for prison phone calls. Finally, after some legal setbacks, in August 2016, the FCC finally laid down some new rules, saying that companies couldn’t charge more than 13 cents a minute for federal prison phone calls to other states.
Popaganda Episode (podcast): Invisible Prisons
The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world. But there are big systems at work in our culture to make us forget that—to try and keep prisons, and the terrible impacts of mass incarceration, invisible. This vanishing act requires help from all parts of our society, including our pop culture. While they play a huge role in how our economy, politics, and families function, it’s rare to see the stories of incarcerated people in our pop culture.
Sister Soldiers: On Black Women, Police Brutality, and the True Meaning of Black Liberation, by Tasha Fierce
Black women are now positioned as the vanguard of a new Black liberation struggle and have started a dialogue on the sociopolitical consequences of centering Black cisgender men’s experiences when discussing police brutality. Failure to acknowledge Black women as victims of police brutality actually ends up killing more Black women and girls by perpetuating the myth that white America does not view Black women as threatening.
Activists and organizers take the opportunity to highlight the connections between prisons, policing, immigration enforcement and gender violence.
Our world has huge gaps between the rhetoric of a world without prisons and the reality of the world as it is right now, a world in which “justice” equals “incarceration.” We should push ourselves to think past that narrow equation and begin to envision a world which truly prizes safety and healing.
For one, it could look like shifting the focus from prison to making sure people who have murdered civilians can’t be police officers. Instead of pushing to send them to prison, that would mean firing these officers, taking their pensions, and barring them from law enforcement jobs (with the same capacity to inflict harm) anywhere else.
This kind of activism envisioning a different way to build society brings me back to Ferguson is the Future. “We can't build something we can't imagine,” said Walidah Imarisha, artist and co-editor of Octavia's Brood, quoting Ursula LeGuin. Instead of limiting social justice organizing to what was is considered a realistic win, she challenged the audience to begin with the question, “What is the world you want?” From there, build that dream world into a real one.
Eight-year-olds sometimes throw tantrums. Twelve-year-olds occasionally write on locker room walls. Neither is a reason to handcuff or threaten a child with criminal charges. But a new report by Columbia law professor and race theorist Kimberle Williams Crenshaw and the African American Policy Forum has found that race plays a clear role in how public school students are punished.
Three Ways People Are Challenging The Prison System Right Now, by Victoria Law
While jails and prisons can never truly be made safe, there has been a lot of activism recently around lessening violence within the prison system. Here are three recent actions that aim to help protect people behind bars.
What Does Justice Mean Besides Police and Prison? By Victoria Law
Some locales have started utilizing restorative justice models in cases that involve harm. Common Justice in New York City, for example, works with youth charged with assault, robbery and burglary. It also works with the people whom they’ve harmed to address their needs and to participate in determining the outcomes. San Francisco’s Sheriff’s Department also employs a restorative justice process through its Resolve to Stop the Violence Project. Neither has worked with a person who has killed another person (yet).