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Related Categories: East Bay | Racial Justice
View other events for the week of 12/ 3/2014
Prisons, Prison Abolition, and the New Jim Crow
Date Wednesday December 03
Time 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Location Details
Bay Area Public School (a free university)
4799 Shatuuck Ave. Oakland
(corner of 48th St. and Shattuck Ave.
Event Type Class/Workshop
Organizer/AuthorSteve Martinot
Emailmartinot4 [at]
There will be three meetings of this class, on Wednesdays at 7 pm – Dec. 3, 10, and 17.

This class will investigate the structure of prison from three perspectives:
Its ethics,
Its inherent criminality as a system,
Its role in the structures of racialization in the US.

Today, we live in a society in political and ethical crisis because it has instituted a revenge ethic and a desire to place people in internal exile in the place of justice and humanism. Having done so, it has created the largest prison system in the world.

Each of these perspectives cries out for the abolition of prisons. The structures of racialization in the US have always depended on a prison system. The topic of the “new Jim Crow” will not only encompass a discusstion of Michelle Alexander’s book by that title, but also the accumulating material evidence that Jim Crow has become our re-institutionalized reality.

Consider this:
The Broken Window theory, by which William Bratton turned New York City into a police state under the heel of “stop and frisk,” can stated as follows: “Even one broken window creates the condition for anti-social behavior.”

The ethics of prison abolition echoes in response to this: “The violence of even one person thrown in a cage by political authority creates the condition for violent behavior.”

The class will address questions such as the following:
1- what is the real structure of imprisonment, and what are the ethics of each of its components?
2- what is the political structure of the prison, and how does it relate to both its structural ethics, to the ideal of human rights, and to the society that we live in.
3- what structures does the political domain us to inhale people into its prison system, to remove them from their communities and habitats, and often to punish them for their attempts to survive physically and psychically?
4- what is the nature of punishment, and why is it even a social or cultural value?
5- what is the connection between social violence, victimless crime laws, and capitalism?
6- what dimensions of the present US prison system could be abolished right now, in the interest of justice, and what does it imply about this society that it refuses to do it?
7- what is the cyclic relation between slavery, prison labor, debt servitude, the prison industry, and Jim Crow?
8- with the prison industry actually materializing a foundation for a New Jim Crow (in Michelle Alexander’s sense), what evidence do we see of the government’s actual success in re-institutionalizing Jim Crow?
9- what is the structure of "racialization" in the US, what role did the former Jim Crow play in it, and what role does the prison today play in it?

If you are interested, contact me for links to some reading, or just show up on Dec. 3.
Steve Martinot
martinot4 [at]

Added to the calendar on Thursday Nov 27th, 2014 12:08 PM
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