Day 8 7/29 '20
Don't believe everything you think. Much easier said than done.
In a lecture today, I heard a woman refer to this as the Third Reconstruction--which I've not yet heard anyone say but feels true. Especially when you begin to consider how much reparations is moving into conversations, across all systemic reform (de-carceration, drug policy, financial policy, budgeting, court fines, fees & costs, tax systems, housing policy, medicare for all). Another woman discussed a case outcome that declared a right to literacy to re-interate the point that infrastructure deficiencies created and maintained along racial lines are the violence in our communities.
I am glad there are smart and capable people doing this work and I am especially glad I realised years ago I am no leader, no revolutionary, no-one dynamic. I'm barely a capable follower, but I try very hard to find and listen to the right voices and share them with others.
A few weeks ago, my remaining mental block to total decarceration was incidentally dismantled when I realised a small thing. My resistance remained because of evidence that rehabilitation for men who commit family violence is most successful when it's residential. And I was considering "residential rehabilitation" as requiring prison. That's a very limited view of the world.
Even if you believe there are acts which when committed against a community necessitate removal (temporary or permanent) from that community, that does not mean "prison". I was easily able to reject punitive models in favor of rehabilitative/restorative/developmental models, but I was unable to separate that from confinement. Unable to see the inherent punitive philosophy there.
I had to dig deep into the logical positivism (empiricism) I studied in grad school to get around it. I have twisted myself into some knots, but I think I made some progress.
I recognize the critique here: if by de-carceration, you just mean a different way to lock people up, you're not solving the problem; you're not supporting abolition. But where "abolition" requires investment in people and communities, de-carceration will provide those interventions and that care to those who need it, including those who act in ways that harm their communities. I hadn't seen my own contradiction there, and I'm still working through it, but I see it now.
I don't know whether or not people can be trusted not to harm, if their needs are met, if their humanity and dignity is prioritized, if they are valued. Many smart people say that yes, they can, yet I do have trouble trusting this belief. But I am beginning to understand how we can intervene when they do without incarceration of any kind. Perhaps that's the first step.
In other thoughts, I managed to knock a few things off the personal to-do list in the first half of this week.