Angela Davis and the case for prison abolition

12:00pm Sunday 25 August

About this session

The abuses of what is termed the ‘prison-industrial complex’ are well known on the left: executions in many American states, privatised prisons which abuse inmates, the huge incarcerations rates of certain criminalised populations (Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, the poor) and for-profit exploitation of prisoners, akin to slavery. But still the call for total prison abolition is rare. Not so in the 1970s, when the Civil Rights movement and a new revolutionary left inspired a prison abolition movement from America to France to Australia, with radicals like Angela Davis at its head. This session will argue, using Davis’s work on the topic, that prisons are the direct result of a capitalist class intent on disciplining those it oppresses. It will also argue, as Davis does, that ‘carceral feminism’, which calls for tougher criminalisation of gendered crimes, can only serve to strengthen the hand of our oppressors.

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