One of the constants of our age is that, no matter how obscure and bizarre the question, it can be asked by the Guardian.
Well, apart from questions like, “how many genders are there?” or, “how does the Scientific Method relate to climate science?“.
Here’s the Grauniad’s Komment Macht Frei section asking, “why do we even need prisons anyway?“.
Amazingly, the article is longer than number of words in the sentence, “because we don’t want Jeffrey Dahmer or Myra Hindley living next door“.
As is the Grauniad’s idiom, sub-editing and logical consistency are unknown concepts. Therefore we have the usual rambling bounce around many disparate points desperately trying to find a consistent narrative.
For example, the reason Australia has jails is because it was a penal colony;
For a settler nation that began as a penal colony, it is no coincidence that we have an obsession with putting people in prisons.
If only there was a control experiment we could use as a comparison, something like a country that wasn’t originally a penal colony. We could then check to see whether there are prisons in that country or confirm whether they’ve found a more progressive solution. Ah.
It is also no coincidence the ninth biannual Sisters Inside conference held this month, previously titled “Are Prison’s Obsolete?”……….
Probably not as obsolete as that Grocer’s Apostrophe.
…..named after the Professor Angela Davis book and work, was retitled “Imagining Abolition … A World Without Prisons”. It propelled beyond begging the question and instead imagined a future. The conference attracted more than 300 people from Australia and abroad.
That must have been a fun conference. One wonders whether the organisers bothered with hiring security or not?
Redefining language is a key part of the progressive tool kit. This, for example;
At the heart of the three days of the conference were women who have experienced criminalisation and have been imprisoned, self-determination and the role of colonisation and white supremacy in the formation of the prison industrial complex.
Can be translated back to English as, “female criminals“, unless the authors are suggesting they were (all) victims of miscarriages of justice, in which case the conference should have been concentrating on justice reform not prison abolition.
The rambling goes on;
Despite Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people make up roughly 3% of the nation’s total population, 28% of the total prison population is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, with Indigenous women representing the fastest growing of these numbers.
There seems to be an obvious solution staring us in the face here, something along the lines of……. don’t break the damn law.
That’s not how progressive logic works though, is it? A lefty will look at those statistics or the ratios of female to male CEOs and automatically know the root cause is (pick your preferred combination) sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia.
Just to ensure we run the gamut of fallacies, there’s a strawman chucked in the mix;
Any time a black person dies in custody the public often responds with “well they are criminals they deserve it”.
Do they? Which people say that? Got any examples?
We also rarely see or give platforms for those who have been criminalised to speak to this in their own words.
“Have been criminalised“ is an interesting turn of phrase, almost as if they have no agency or personal responsibility for the outcome. As for not having a platform; do you mean apart from an all expenses trip to Melbourne for a three day conference?
How about this for classic cognitive dissonance;
To build a world without prisons is to disrupt a society built on inequity, patriarchal violence and colonisation.
This means addressing the roots of poverty and trauma.
Nationally, 70-90% of Aboriginal women incarcerated have experienced family violence and most Aboriginal women in prison have experienced sexual trauma.
That sounds suspiciously like the results of a fully-cultural patriarchy…. and the culture at fault isn’t Western European post-Enlightenment, is it?
But somehow it’s the fault of that Western European post-Enlightenment culture for not fixing it, of course;
This reflects a failure of the state to protect black women….
More intersectional language is deployed but nothing tangible or actionable is actually offered as a solution.
Here’s the final paragraph in full. You may recognise the meaning of the individual words but good luck with understanding them in this combination;
Through the centring of those with lived experience and solidarity between those affected by criminalisation and allies, this conference highlights this movement is growing and strong, and has moved beyond imagining a world without prisons and is ready to build it.
If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.
By the way, the authors of this utter guff were;
Nayuka Gorrie is a Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta freelance writer.
That’s five different “nations” they are claiming to belong to, which makes Elizabeth Warren’s Cherokee claims seem quite reasonable.
Witt Church is a white social worker living in Naarm (Melbourne). Their work focuses on abolition and supporting communities impacted by criminalisation.
Why do we care about his/her/zher skin tone? Also, if you’re going to use a proper noun to describe a place, it’s probably best to use one universally recognised. To understand why, perhaps try booking a flight to Carthage for your holidays.