Prisons are not designed to rehabilitate or protect. They are designed to criminalize, control, dehumanize and profit off people. They target those who are living in conditions of economic hardship, people of color and those who fall outside social norms. The modern prison has grown out of the legacy of slavery and perpetuates racism, classism, ablism and other forms of systemic oppression.
Corporations profit every step of the way by building and maintaining facilities (the US built an average of new prison each week between 1976 and 2000) & by putting lots of people in them to use as as cheap, contract labor.
Corporate stockholders only make money if prisons are full, so whenever prison populations start running low, they pay lobbyists to push new laws to make more things illegal (like SB 1070 in Arizona, the National Defense Authorization Act, the Sit/Lie Act in SF, Three Strikes, etc).
The criminalization system targets and perpetrates violence against sexual dissidents and gender non-conforming folks through overtly homophobic and transphobic laws, ignoring everyday violence against queer and trans people and over-policing queer communities.
Queer and trans people are over-represented in the prison system, especially those from low-income communities and those who have also faced intolerance and harassment in their homes and communities.
Once inside, queer and trans people face an increased likelihood of violence and an invisibilization of their needs. Trans prisoners are often forced into prisons with people of the opposite gender with little regard for their safety, leading to an increased risk of assault, rape and harassment. Trans prisoners are also routinely denied hormones, appropriate clothing and access to necessary medical care.
In California, we pay an average of $44,563 per prisoner per year. That’s $129 per person, per day that could have been spent educating, housing, and providing medical and mental health care instead.
Prison abolition means we dismantle the whole system. We shut prisons down, we get our people out of cages and back into our communities and we start finding better alternatives. It is time to question, disrupt and transform the dominant ideas about the normalcy of the prison industrial complex. And that’s what queers do best!
“Transforming Carceral Logics: 10 Reasons to dismantle the prison industrial complex through queer/trans analysis and action” by S. Lamble, in Captive Genders (eds. Stanley & Smith);
The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery? (Pelaez, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8289).