A group of Brown University students want to abolish all prisons “in the name of justice” because they are “racist” and “punishment at any stage doesn’t guarantee any kind of growth.”
“The end goal is to not have prisons as any form of incarceration,” student Grace Austin, a member of the group called RailRoad, said at a teach-in called “Prison Abolition 101” held early this month, according to The Brown Daily Herald.
The students did not respond to questions regarding whether they would be happy to have the rapists, murderers, thieves and child molesters come and live on their own streets instead of being housed safely behind bars.
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Brown University student Aida Sherif insisted the prison system is about punishment and not justice.
“Prisons were founded in the ideas of punishing the poor, punishing people of color,” Sherif said. “I don’t see it as an institution that can ever fully break away from those foundations.”
WesternJournal report: RailRoad’s vision “is a world where the Prison Industrial Complex in all of its forms has been destroyed and built in its place are systems of accountability that allow for healing and growth,” according to the group’s “about” section of its Facebook page.
The group’s thinking is aligned with comments from Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, whose recent tweet condemning prisons was posted on the group’s Facebook page.
“Mass incarceration is our American reality. It is a system whose logic evolved from the same lineage as Jim Crow, American apartheid, & slavery. To end it, we have to change. That means we need to have a real conversation about decarceration & prison abolition in this country,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted last month.
Her call for prison abolition was not popular on Twitter.
The Brown students suggested that there could be alternative institutions for justice that are not prisons, which one student said are not essential.
“Our society is constructed in a way that would have us believe prisons are absolutely necessary,” Sherif said while presenting at the event. “People perceive it as crazy, unreasonable, dangerous, too radical. Abolition is not anarchy.”
The student group wants the Ivy League college to adopt what it called “fair chance” hiring practices that would include saying it does not discriminate based on anyone’s conviction history. Students also want the college to hire individuals who have been in jail.
“If people aren’t totally on board with the issue of mass incarceration and prison abolition in general, then they may not necessarily be as convinced about fair chance hiring,” student Leah Shorb said.
“Anything that is interrupting the cycle of incarceration is abolitionist to me as long as it’s not further entrenching the system of incarceration.”