This winter, a broad coalition of people disrupted the King County Council meeting where they voted to authorize funds to build the new Juvenile detention center. In response, a judge and several media pundits accused the growing prison abolitionist movement of being a “cancer” in Seattle politics. They also called us “disruptive hooligans” and suggested we need to be repressed. Here is an excellent response from our friend and comrade Bypolar the Toxic Cherub, an emcee and organizer who has experienced incarceration himself and who had dedicated his life to dismantling it.
Cancer or Cure? A disruptive hooligan’s solution to incarceration
As an abolitionist we here over and over again we need prisons, we need police, that there is no viable alternative, that its the nature of humanity. Which is a very kkkapitlist mindset, and extremely untrue, so, you ask what is the alternative? Well lets for this time focus on Seattle building a new $210 million Juvenile that incarcerates around 500 youth a year most of which are status offenses, not crimes. To break it down, that’s $420,000.00 a youth before any actual funding of meals, guards, schooling, lights, water, electricity, healthcare, etc. This to me seems like with an overall youth and adult detention budget of $128,000,000.00 yearly on top of that. We may be able to stop 90% of crime by economically reinforcing communities thus eliminating the need for incarceration.
With the youth, for example, if we invested in the needs in the community like housing, self education, trauma support, drug dependency support, mentors, food, clothing, recreation and so on it would change our reality in an unrecognizable but very positive direction. Investing in transformative justice programs as they have been shown to be very successful. For example by opening community spaces based off filling the needs of the community not only does it drastically reduce crime by their very economics and socially supportive nature but if some one does for example sell drugs they can instead get paid to come in and do janitorial work
at the center particularly around groups about chemical dependency, food programs that are frequented by ppl suffering from drug dependency, what this does is filling multiple needs of both the community and the individual, by doing so it makes some of the first steps to healing our community, creating connection on an intimate level with transparency to the rest of the community which dissuades destructive behavior but on the other hand alienation of things like juvie just served to traumatize youth thus creating a much greater likelihood of them manifesting there trauma more destructively then if we did nothing. Furthermore destroying community, removing there family members is not only destructive but economic terrorism. Making vulnerable communities even more vulnerable by removing their support networks. However supporting communities in building their own solution is imperative to ending crime and the prison industrial complex. Take Qilombo in Oakland(afrika town) for example. They feed, clothe, beautify, educate and treat the ills of their community. Which starts to change the nature of the area, without discarding the people who live, struggle and raise their children in Oakland.
The only problem really is that the state does not want a solution they want a deterrent to dissent and community control. But mostly it wants profits, free/cheap labor that gets dedicated to moguls such as Bob Barker or institutions such as the U.S. military. If they abolished prisons would crime really shrink? The answer, is no, and its not because of their inherent nature of humanity but the nature of kkkapitalism. It will always chase profits, for example if we do abolish prisons as false concessions the state may try things like building boarding schools and halfway houses call it a viable alternative incarceration, where u function as prisoners and slaves visible to society as a act of social justice, perverse in its intent. Which will fallow models much like pioneer human services which is a “non profit” that not only provides housing but “career opportunities” which amounts to them employing you at the lowest price possible charge you the highest rate possible for rent so Ur left with just enough money just for food and transportation.
Now add a layer of, you cant leave the premises unless your working, they make the food and charge u for it then, pow not slavery or prison but community integration. Which is obviously the perversion of both housing and work with no actual community component. Not because it couldn’t exist but the reality is it was never about public safety or community and neither will any state controlled solution. Those will always be about profit. Because Amerikkka is kkkapitalist which inherently puts a price on all living things and commoditize them. You also become a resource that is used to best serve the empire as they see fit and so do Ur kids.
That form of thought and politics can never by its inherent nature prioritize human lives but is in necessity in oppression to most of life, human and non human, on the planet i.e. it would materially bankrupt the government to end prisons, or war. The people however would prosper abundantly from all these programs and the dismantling of these modern day dungeons, especially the ones for our children. We are not tied to this government, its interests or its success. If the government we live in is inventing the problems (inserting drugs in our communities, inventing crimes, controlling our food in conjunction with super corps etc.) the solution is to abolish the present system, to build the programs we need not the ones they want. Open spaces, instead of paying tax to the bad government use it on actual community needs, getting seed to grow food, learning co-ops where skill/knowledge shares are daily for youth and adults instead of the colonizers education system that prioritizes indoctrinated workers over educated independent thinkers. As well as things like community accountability, as well as learning our responsibility as a community member, be responsible to and for each other.
In conclusion the reason most ideas to abolish prisons seems unrealistic is because the system doesn’t allow for it considering its economic dependency on prison as a way of primitive accumulation originating from slavery. It takes us using resources to work for the benefit of people instead of seeing humans as a resource to be exploited, an ideological shift that say life matters that black poor lumpen lives matter. That safety is the importance not profits. That the youth we have so degraded and disregarded matters. That revolution and restoration is the only true answer.
Please also check ou my new song about the juvie as well. #nonewjuvie https://soundcloud.com/bypolar-3/klank-klank-mastr-2
Bypolar the toxic ch