Liberal reformers in New York City are pushing for skyscraper jails to replace the notorious penal colony on Rikers Island. Supporters of the plan claim these facilities will be humane and rehabilitative, functioning as “justice hubs” and “sites of civic unity” tying communities together. Meanwhile, abolitionists organizing under the banner #NoNewJails demand the closure of Rikers, and substantive investment in the working-class communities of color historically decimated by mass incarceration, not new jails. In the process, abolitionists are pressing fundamental questions about the meanings of safety, community, and justice, amid a national moment of reckoning with the accumulated devastation of decades of mass incarceration. I sat down with veteran organizer Pilar Maschi for a wide-ranging discussion of her path to abolitionism, her sense of strategy and tactics and how the present juncture can point toward a world without human cages.

– Jarrod Shanahan

In this interview, long-time Critical Resistance member and former staffer, Pilar Maschi, talks about CR’s work fighting different jail construction campaigns such as originally through the Community in Unity Coalition, to #NoNewJailsNYC years later, and the community building and transformative political education projects that the New York chapter of Critical Resistance did over the years like the La Casita Project.