Resisting Incarceration: Prisons, Activism and Abolition – Phil Scraton

Advertising Phil’s forthcoming ‘show’ allows me also to introduce you to the group, Skeptics Online,, of whom I’d never heard.

Skeptics in the Pub (abbreviated SITP) is an informal social event designed to promote fellowship and social networking among skepticscritical-thinkersfreethinkersrationalists and other like-minded individuals. It provides an opportunity for skeptics to talk, share ideas and have fun in a casual atmosphere, and discuss whatever topical issues come to mind, while promoting skepticismscience, and rationality.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeptics_in_the_Pub

We are a coalition of UK-based Skeptics groups. Formed as the COVID-19 pandemic brought our country to a standstill, we are working to deliver high-quality online events focusing on science, reason, and critical thinking.

Every Thursday at 7 pm (UK time), you will find us presenting live-streamed talks, all for free – you don’t even need to create an account. Simply open up twitch.tv/sitp.

Take a look at our events, past and future, we’re sure you’ll see a lot of content you will find interesting.

Phil’s outline of his show:

Since Michael Howard’s pronouncement that ‘Prison Works’ the prison population in the UK has doubled with the current Government planning to build several more multi-occupancy ‘Titan’ prisons to incarcerate thousands more men and women. This reflects an ill-founded commitment to what became a cross-party mantra. In what sense does ‘prison work’? Does the claim stand scrutiny? Or, as Jonathan Simon suggests, does locking away an ever-increasing number of women, men and children amount to ‘social warehousing’? Derived in three decades of activist work and academic research Phil Scraton will address the harms of imprisonment for those locked away, their families and their communities. He will critique the reformist ‘rehabilitation’ agenda and explore the potential for prison abolition. What would decarceration look like? What are alternatives and how would harms caused to individuals and communities by ‘criminal’ and ‘anti-social’ acts be addressed without the ‘punishment’ of incarceration?

Phil Scraton PhD, DLaws (Hon), DPhil (Hon) is Professor Emeritus, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. He has held visiting professorships at Amherst College, USA, the Universities of Auckland, Monash, New South Wales and Sydney. Widely published on critical theory, incarceration and children/ young people his books include: In the Arms of the Law – Coroners’ Inquests and Deaths in Custody; Prisons Under Protest; ‘Childhood’ in ‘Crisis’?; Hillsborough The Truth; Power, Conflict and Criminalisation; The Incarceration of Women; Women’s Imprisonment and the Case for Abolition. Having refused an OBE, he was awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool in recognition of his Hillsborough research.

Martin Luther King speaks down the years.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He gave this moving and prescient speech on April 4, 1967, one year before his assassination. Its message resonates down the years to the present day.

 “A time comes when silence is betrayal.”

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement, and pray that our inner being may be sensitive to its guidance. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West — investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries — and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

War is not the answer. We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace and justice throughout the developing world a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight.

A gradely message for 2021

Irreconcilable atheist, though I be, this prayer sent to me by a dear friend appeals. Ahead of my rants that lie ahead, it will suffice unto the day. If it works I’ve recited it in the Lancastrian accent required!

Learning to live together as sisters and brothers will come about only through struggling to create this bond in the face of the orchestrated opposition of the powerful. At every turn they seek to divide us . They seek to blame others , never themselves, for our precarious existence

https://voca.ro/1oIEDjSjNiWa – right click on this link and click on the flashing Play button and you should be accosted by my dulcit tones!

The struggle continues! La Lutta Continua! Ο αγώνας συνεχίζεται!