Defund prisons? Another look.

WHY DON’T THINGS CHANGE?  In the face of an abundance of information before us framing the genesis of our social ills, why don’t things change?  Decade after decade, from generation to generation, we regurgitate and rehash the how’s and why’s the peace of our neighbourhoods is bothered.  Small steps forward are taken, or so it seems, and incremental successes show us what may be possible.  We applaud and are relieved.  But it’s never enough.  We’re still sick.  Why?

The status quo.  No, no.  The STATUS QUO!  There are forces, there are special interests, there is influence and clout that benefit from the existing ‘state of affairs.’  It’s not ideal, but its imperfections are the concessions made to the calls for change, messages to the masses that their petitions are heard.  There is no conspiracy, there is no collusion, no intrigue against society.  It is simply the worst in us satisfying vested passions.

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While the unprecedented 2020 summer protests in support of Black lives have drifted away from the news cycle, the embers flicker briefly when yet another racial incident video linked to policing surfaces.  The word is out; it’s been heard.  Many are paying attention.  How do policing, jails and prisons impact racialized and marginalized men, women, and children in vulnerable communities?  And now, the COVID pandemic has magnified the inequities Black and Indigenous peoples know only too well in the criminal justice system.

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Robyn Maynard is a PhD candidate and Vanier scholar at the University of Toronto, and the author of “Policing Black Lives.”  Associated with Abolition Coalition, she is one of over a dozen authors of “Choosing Real Safety:  A Historic Declaration to Divest from Policing and Prisons and Build Safer Communities for All,” co-written by prison rights advocates, and Indigenous and Black-led groups.  According to Ms. Maynard’s op-ed in the Toronto Star early this year, during a prior one-month period more than 250 organizations signed onto the statement.  Supporters “spanned the medical community, major labour and human rights organizations including UNIFOR, the Black Legal Action Centre and the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Frey Societies.”

GOOGLE “Choosing Real Safety” to read the declaration and access related resources.

‘Defunding’ is not about starving the always hungry prison industry from meeting its authorized mandate.  It’s not about preventing our police from doing a job.  It’s about change that can make a real difference for our futures.

Prisons as success factories?  Next.

 

 

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