In this period of astonishing energy and public discussion about the state of policing, detention, imprisonment, sentencing, and surveillance, CR is excited to release this new video series, Breaking Down the Prison Industrial Complex, as part of our Profiles in Abolition initiative. The videos explore the current state of the prison industrial complex (PIC) and how people are fighting back to resist and abolish it. As always, we feature abolition as a strategy to dismantle systems of harm and punishment in favor of systems that increase health, stability, and self-determination.
Please share these videos broadly and help amplify abolition as an irresistible vision and practical organizing strategy.
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What is the Prison Industrial Complex?
In this first release of videos, we seek to sharpen a shared understanding understanding what the prison industrial complex (PIC) is and how it functions. An abolitionist approach to fighting the PIC means that we have an understanding of the forces at play and its impact.
What is Policing? How Does Criminalization Work?
In this second release of videos, we dig into one aspect of the prison industrial complex: policing. Through these videos, we hope to help advance a strong, clear understanding of what policing is, its depth and how this kind of analysis can help us reject its reach and erode its power. For a definition of Policing and our Abolition of Policing workshop, go here.
Reforms and How We Choose to Fight
Abolition is both a vision and a practical strategy. Central to abolitionist work are the many fights for non-reformist reforms— those measures that reduce the power of an oppressive system while illuminating the system’s inability to solve the crises it creates.* As we build a movement, as we work hard on campaigns and projects, we encourage strong analysis about how to chip away at the system and not create things we have to tear down later.
We hope this videos help us think critically, expansively, and optimistically about what we must fight for.
Abolition, As a Practice
How do we organize for abolition? Why is abolition practical? These videos challenge us to think of abolition as a practice and consider how to put it to use.
Abolition as Vision
Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) abolition is a political vision with the goal of eliminating imprisonment, policing, and surveillance and creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment.
Abolition isn’t just about getting rid of buildings full of cages. It’s also about undoing the society we live in because the PIC both feeds on and maintains oppression and inequalities through punishment, violence, and controls millions of people. Because the PIC is not an isolated system, abolition is a broad strategy. An abolitionist vision means that we must build models today that can represent how we want to live in the future. It means developing practical strategies for taking small steps that move us toward making our dreams real and that lead us all to believe that things really could be different. It means living this vision in our daily lives.
Abolition is both a practical organizing tool and a long-term goal.
We look forward to releasing dozens of videos featuring conversations with Alice Kim, Andrea Ritchie, Angela Y. Davis, Charlene Caruthers, Claude Marks, Craig Gilmore, Dylan Rodriguez, Joey Mogul, Jose Lopez, Kamau Walton, Laura Whitehorn, Marbre Stahly-Butts, Mariame Kaba, Mary Hooks, Masai Ehehosi, Maya Schenwar, Ruthie Gilmore, Soffiyah Elijah, and more.
The videos in this project were filmed, produced and directed by Rachel Herzing and Isaac Ontiveros. Our deepest gratitude goes to these two former CR members and co-Directors.