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References:

  1. Critical resistance
  2. Circles processes
  3. Philly Stands Up
  4. Philly’s Pissed
  5. Third Eye Collective — Montreal
  6. Everyday Abolition
  7. Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective
  8. Prisonner Correspondence Project
  9. Anti-carceral Group
  10. Certain Days
  11. Kersplebedeb Publishing
  12. Opendoor Books
  13. Black Indigenous Harm Reduction Alliance

Music:

  • Rebel Diaz – Revolutionary Minded
  • Rebel Diaz – Revolution Has Come
  • Jason Camp & The Posers – Silver Tongued White Man
    (Used with the permission of the bands)

Transcription (La traduction en français suit)

Police and prisons are violent and racist institutions, straight out of the colonial legacy whose sole contribution is to reproduce the inequities of the capitalist system. Everyday, even when they uphold a so-called social peace, the cops only assault, harass and incarcerate the most vulnerable and oppressed among us. And when people rise up against these injustices, once again the state uses the police and prisons to stifle the masses.

The problem is not only the violent blunders of the police, but the police institution in itself that is a form of violence just like the courts, the laws, the jails and prisons. Can we really talk about bad apples when the whole institution only exists to repress and oppress? The Whole orchard is a series of podcasts in the form of interviews that addresses different themes linked to the police, prison and justice system, created by CLAC, the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, a group based in TiohtiĂ :ke or so-called Montreal on unceded indigeneous land, inhabited amongst others by the Kanienkeha:ka nation. We’re proposing a critical analysis to oppose the naive liberal perspective that only targets the bad apples in the basket, instead of fighting structures of oppression. We can’t leave them such a chance: we refuse to reform a system with rotten foundations. Instead, we abolish it. Let’s take on the whole orchard!


Prisons, and the restriction of spatial mobility as a mode of punishment have only become normalized recently in the West. Before those, we often think about corporeal punishment devices such as the torture wheel, guillotine or the pyre, symbols of the excesses of royalty and feodalism. However up until recently, many rural communities functionned without any intervention from the State: economic dynamics imposed a large agricultural production and as long as the producers stood in line with it, there is no reason to intervene. That’s why there is a much larger police presence in the cities than there is in rural regions, even though crime rates are higher outside of metropolitan areas. Therefore it’s not surprising that in so-called Quebec, prisons would only appear in the 19th century and establish themselves through the introduction of police services.

However, it’s important to remember that other solutions have and will continue to exist to replace the punitive justice system and rampant sequestration of peoples. With the aim to abolish the carceral system, drawing inspiration from those alternative approaches to justice seems essential. But until then, we also need to change what we believe constitutes, quote unquote, a crime.

In this third episode of our podcast, we present to you this interview with two members of the Termite Collective, in order to deepen our understanding of the issues related to prison abolition. The Termite collective is a group based in so-called Montreal that supports incarcerated individuals and aims to share a critical analysis of the carceral system by spreading information via workshops, theater plays and other events.

Q: Can you tell us about the work you do in the Termite Collective?

A: So the Termite collective is a group of people who are very determined to abolish prisons and we are a group of people some of whom have a lot of experience in prisons and some of whom don’t, and we collaborate together on various different kinds of projets. Most publicly we recorded and performed some plays years ago and we were very interested in cabaret and play writing and performance as a way to educate people about what happens in the prison system and to help people understand why abolition is so necessary.

Q: Briefly, could you expand on why we would want a world without prisons?

A: I think one of the reasons why we would not want a world whitout prisons is because we’ve realised what a bad experiment that has been, and the links to a system that is actually ultimately very oppressive and how it’s the — well one of the — ends of a strategy, one of the lasts points of a strategy that continuously and systematically targets certain populations, and has as it’s goal to ensure the stability and good working order of a system that actually causes a lot of harm, rather than any good. Without going into more detail with that I think it is one of the goals why we would like a world without prisons. Another goal that I think most people could relate to is the harm that long term institutionalization does to people. I think most people would agree that beeing caged for an extended period of time is not a good thing to do to each other. So even at the most basic level of human understanding I think we could all agree on that.

A: I would add two things: one is kind of what you are touching on of like prison abolition is deeply connected to wanting to live in world where people have what they need and they are not harmed by our way of interacting with each other. And prisons are deeply connected to histories of colonialism in this context, to histories of slavery in the United States, and here. Some of the first people to be held in prisons in Canada were indigenous leaders that were leading uprising against the expansion of the Canadian State. You know if you look at the history of federal prisons like the Stony Mountain, some of the first people in this prison were people that fought against the Canadian State during the North-West rebellion and some of the first wardens and people working in that prison were soldiers who were shipped out west in order to fight that rebellion. So, there is a very deep history of prisons interacting with colonialism and when we are talking about prison abolition we’re thinking about a world in which colonialism does not exist either. And just seeing prison as one aspect of the oppressive power structures that you mentionned that really stopped people form beeing able to access the things they need, and have the kind of relationship that they want to have both to the land and to each other. And then another thing I would add is that that kind of gives you what we mean when we say something like the prison industrial complex, which is a big term that a lot of people and a lot of prison abolitionnists use to convey the sense that we are not just talking about the buildings of the prisons themselves. Like the building could close we would still have an issue with the system. The prison industrial complex is actually deeply connected, the capitalism it’s about the corporations that are making money off of housing people in prison, it’s about all the social services that make a lot of money off of “supporting” people on parole, helping people follow the rules of the
ir ankle bracelet program or things like that. Those things are all count as part of the prison industrial complex so when we talk about prison abolition we’re not just talking about getting rid of the buildings with the walls themselves; we’re talking about this much more giant system that make it much more harder to fight in some ways, but also points towards the world that we want to live in and the more positive that we are fighting for.

A: I could probably add to that, in terms of the way it’s thought about, it’s not necessary a prison abolition even though the term could be… that’s enough to start off a conservation about it. The way you’ve spoken about it obviously makes us think of penal aboliton and punishment as a goal of justice or of reparation or reducing harm and for reparation.

Q: So if we didn’t have prisons, how would we deal with crime?

A: First of all let’s start it this way : we’ve always been dealing with crime if we’re gonna call it crime but let’s call it harm, because that’s more reflective of what we would like to see. It’s like adressing harm done We have always beeing dealing with harm done against us, on us, within our communities, we have many strategies and even in the most gruesome situations we are left to grieve and to move on on our own regardless. And I am not just talking about personnal harm, I’m talking about the harm from colonialism, work related issue, in every context we have been dealing with harm, so we have the means to deal with harm even though they are not ideal we have been dealing with them. So we could learn from that on how we dealt with the harm that has been done with us and that has never been adressed as a crime and that has never been adressed as something worth rectifying to any real degree. The other thing is that there are ways when there is harm beeing done to each other on that interpersonnal level. The way things are done as they stand is that there is one person responsible for the harm and it’s punitive and the person needs to be put away for that harm to be adressed and of course that’s — I don’t think anybody even on that level is satisfied. Again, I’m gonna go to the basic level of all of us that even in the system those who have gone trough the system as victims don’t see it satisfying or reparative in other real way either.

A: I would just say that what counts as crime in our society today is telling in terms of what people in power think needs to be addressed in terms of harm. So people who run giant factories where people get injured are often not going face criminal charges for those actions, even if they knew that the machines that were operating in their factories were unsafe. The corporations that spill oil into the ocean and onto the land they often don’t face any consequences for having done that. Most police officers who are involved in killing people don’t face any charges for that. Just to say that a lot of things that we could think of as harm don’t count as crimes so there is a big disconnect between the way the legal system defines what counts as a crime versus something that grassroots and people in different communities could define as a harm. And being able to see that differences, see that distinction, can kind of lead you in the direction of what we would do if we did not have prisons, which I think has been less of a conversation in the lasts six months that what we would do if we did not have police.

I think George Floyd’s murder in the United States really brought to the forefront a conversation about what would we do if we didn’t have police, and there are a lot amazing organizations that have been working on giving people answers to that question. Some of the ones that come to mind for me are groups like Critical Resistance, which has also dealt a lot with penal abolition. And a lot of different groups that have operated in different neighboorhoods where people haven’t been able to call the cops for whatever reason, and if they did, the cops wouldn’t come or in communities where people know that the cops are not going to solve their problems. And so they have more grassrooth ways dealing with issues that come up in communities, whether it’s around conflict or whether it’s about harm.

Yeah, so I think having that distinction is really useful — distinctions between crime and harm is really useful. I think there are many pretty inspiring examples around the world of ways that people have dealt with harm without using punitive measures like prisons. The one we were talking about this mythic exemple the other day while preparing for this interview, has been told to me as a story about the zapatistas I have never been able to find the source of where it comes from so I feel unclear and whether it is actually about the zapatistas or wheather it is about community that have achieved a high level of autonomy from states structures and is able to experiment with how they deal with harm in their own way. But the story is that there is a community in witch someone murdered someone else possibly in the context of a conflict that they were having. And the decision that the community made in terms of what should happen for that person in terms of consequences is that this person ended up living with the family of the person he had killed and part of that is because, the way the story goes, is that it was a very rural community where people were really dependent on farming for getting their food and access to food for the community and things like that. And The family that had lost a family member needed help with the farming and needed help with getting their food and so the consequence for the person was to live with the family of the person he had killed for a year. I think that gets brought up, we were talking about it as this mythic story as an example of something that can happen, that isn’t prison, that isn’t punitive, that isn’t about punishment, and is about reparation, and is about trying to directly deal with a harm in a way that includes the people who have been harmed in that decision process and in that conversation.

Q: I’m convinced! So now, how do we get there?

A: I’ve been thinking about this and I think one of the things is to use imagination to have to to look at examples of praxis that has worked, and has not relied on State structures to both define and adress harm.

A: I think there is a giant spectrum of things that people are trying in order to get to there and some of them are more collective organisational strategies. There are groupes like Critical resistance [1] which I mentionned who have a lot of things that they’ve written about non reformist reforms, which is something they talk about which looks like, refusing to lobby for prisons that aren’t double bunked, because that often leads to more prisons getting built, and instead being clear that when you are talking to the government about what you want to see happen, you have to make sure that the end result is ressources being pulled away from the prison system as much as possible.

But then there is also things that fall into the category of transformative justice sometimes look like circle processes, sometime they look like conflict mediation. That whole genre of thing that I think of like communities sitting down and trying to figure out how to deal with conflict and harm themselves, different facilitation strategies people have come up with around that and different structured proceses that people have come up with around that. There’s a lot of groups that have done that over the years. Some of the ones I have read the most about that come to mind are Philly Stands Up [2] and Philly’s Pissed [3]. I don’t think they exist anymore but there are a lot of writing online from them about both supporting people who have caused harm, and what kinds of transformative change you can encouraged people to bring about in their own lives when they’re willing and they have the right support system. But also about supporting people who have been harmed and what that looks like. There are a lot of black feminist organizations that have done that kind of work in the past. In Montreal, there is the Third Eye collective [4] that has in the last five or ten years done a lot of work around that in Montreal.

And then there is grassroot conflict mediation stuff which has looked all kinds of ways. There is lots of little groups around the city who are trying to do that kind of things. There is a lot grassroot facilitators who are willing to step in and help with those kind of things with the goals of not involving the police. I will briefly mention more strategies that I think are moving in the direction of abolition: 1. things like public shaming which the #MeToo movement has popularized in the last five years or so. And another is material reparations, which in the United States usually gets talked about as material reparation for people who’s ancestors were enslaved, but in Canada I think we can also talk about it as “landback” which is a slogan that have become very popular on the internet in the last few years but has always been a slogan of the anti-colonial movement and indigenous sovereignty movements who are pushing for litterarily land back, that I would think of as material reparation in the context of the harm caused by colonialism.

I will briefly mention a few more abolitionist organisations : there’s the Revolutionary abolitionnist movement which is currently based in the US that people should check out. There is Critical Resistance which I already mentionned. There’s a website called Everyday Abolition [5] that people can check out that has a lot of strategies that people can think about. There is the group Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective [6] who have popularized the idea of podding which people could look into in terms of pratices within friend groups for dealing with conflict and for dealing with harm. Yeah, those are some of the organizations and some of the strategies that come to mind when thinking about how we get to a world without prisons and to a world without police.

One last thing I wanted to mention is that I feel like it is very important for people to do prisonner support; that a really important part of prison abolitionist politics is beeing in touch with people on the inside. It both shows people who don’t have any experience with the prison system how necessary and urgent it is to abolish the prison system. It shows you the depth of what the system actually is, it is not just the walls, it’s the social workers on the outside and the halfway houses and the programs that the people get forced into and all kinds of different things like that. I would say that the conversations I’ve had with people who have done lots of time have very seriously shaped my politics around abolition. Obvioulsy not every single person you are going to be in touch with is going to be into abolition but I certainly think that abolitionist politics necessitate beeing in touch with people on the inside.

A: I just wanted to mention that since the inception of prisons as the way we know them there has constantly been resistance to them both from people who work very closely to prisons and prisonners obviously and that was inherited from the colonial state that came in from England, since the inception of it although it was brought about as an alternative and a more humane form of punishment in their context, it was consistently opposed by many members of the communities but they were quashed. Their voices has been silenced. And its a history that has been silenced as well as if it is a natural thing if we’re going to be seeking justice in some way–as if it is. Even in our own minds we don’t have to go that far back or that far away to consider a world withouth prisons. It is close to what was around previous to its existence actually. Not to say that we should bring back torture or those means, but the fact that it has constantly what the state has destributed as its form of justice has always been resisted against. It has never been part of a people’s movement to build prisons. It has never been part of what people have wanted in their communities. It has been an imposed state of affairs with very real goals.

Q: So, how to get involve in abolitionist projects?

A: There are lots of different ways for people to get involved in abolitionnists projects in Montreal. I’m sure you are going to talk to a lot of other people for this podcast so people will get a lot of different ideas. Just to name a few different options, there is the Prisonner Correspondance Project [7] which is a penpal project, and resource project for queer and trans prisonners and puts them in touch with similar communities on the outside. There is the Anticarceral Group [8]. There is the Certain Days calendar project [9]. If people are looking for educational material and resources Kersplebedeb Publishing [10] is based in Montreal and has a ton of books both written by prisonners and written about the prison system that people could get to understand things better. There is a group called Opendoor Books [11] which sends books to people in prison. And there is the Black Indigenous Harm Reduction Alliance [12] which last time I checked was doing a fundraising drive to send carepackages in to women who are currently incarcerated in Leclerc provincial prison which is one of a number of prisons that are on the same bloc out in Laval, which is a suburb of Montreal. So yeah those are the projects I would mentionned that people could checkout if they are looking to get involved in abolitionnist politics in Montreal. Obviously due to the pandemic a lot of groups are on hold or might not get back to you as fast as they normally would, but hopefully things will be able to get going again at some point in the future.

The existence of police, of prisons and the entire carceral system is doing more harm than good to our communities; protecting the rich and the capitalist system while punishing poor and racialized people trying to survive within these confines. If we work together to create alternatives to prisons, we could build stronger and more egalitarian communities that focus on justice and equity rather than revenge and punishment.

If you want to know more about prison abolition and the negative effects of prisons on the people directly impacted and their communities, check out our next episode, where we will be interviewing Helen Hudson, an abolitionist activist who’s been in the game for more than twenty years.


TRADUCTION

Les prisons se sont gĂ©nĂ©ralisĂ©es tardivement dans les pays occidentaux. Avant celles-ci, on pense souvent qu’il n’y avait que des supplices comme la roue, la guillotine ou au bĂ»cher, symboles des excĂšs de la royautĂ© et du fĂ©odalisme. Au contraire, presque jusqu’Ă  nos jours, plusieurs des communautĂ©s rurales fonctionnent sans qu’il y ait de rĂ©elles interventions Ă©tatiques: les dynamiques Ă©conomiques imposent une production agricole maximale et tant que les producteur-trice-s s’y soumettent il n’y a pas de raison d’intervenir. C’est pourquoi il y a beaucoup plus de policiers dans les ville qu’Ă  l’extĂ©rieur de celles-ci, malgrĂ© le fait que le crime est rĂ©putĂ© ĂȘtre plus prĂ©sent dans les campagnes que dans les zones urbaines. Ainsi, il n’est pas Ă©tonnant que les prisons apparaissent seulement au 19Ăšme siĂšcle au QuĂ©bec, et vont se stabiliser avec l’apparition des services policiers.

Cependant, il est important de se rappeler que d’autres solutions ont existĂ©, existent et continueront d’exister pour remplacer la justice punitive et la sĂ©questration. Dans l’optique d’abolir le systĂšme carcĂ©ral, s’inspirer de ces formes de justices alternatives apparaĂźt comme essentiel. Mais d’ici lĂ , nous devons aussi changer notre conception de ce qu’est, entre guillemets, un crime.

Dans ce troisiĂšme Ă©pisode du Verger au complet, on vous prĂ©sente une entrevue avec deux membres du Termite Collective afin d’approfondir notre comprĂ©hension des enjeux liĂ©s Ă  l’aboilition des prisons. Le Termite Collective est un collectif basĂ© Ă  soi-disant MontrĂ©al qui soutient les personnes emprisonnĂ©es. Le collectif travaille notamment Ă  partager une analyse critique du systĂšme carcĂ©ral en diffusant des informations par le biais d’ateliers, de piĂšces de thĂ©Ăątre et d’autres Ă©vĂ©nements.

Q : Pouvez-vous nous parler du travail que vous faites au sein du Termite Collective?

R : Le Termite Collective est un groupe de personnes trĂšs dĂ©terminĂ©es Ă  abolir les prisons. Nous sommes un groupe de personnes dont certaines ont une grande expĂ©rience des prisons et d’autres non, et nous collaborons ensemble sur diffĂ©rents types de projets. Nous avons utilisĂ© les cabarets, l’Ă©criture et la prĂ©sentation de piĂšces de thĂ©Ăątre comme moyens d’informer sur ce qui se passe dans le systĂšme carcĂ©ral aider Ă  comprendre pourquoi l’abolition est si nĂ©cessaire.

Q : BriĂšvement, pourriez-vous nous expliquer pourquoi nous voudrions un monde sans prisons ?

R : Je pense que l’une des raisons pour lesquelles nous voudrions d’un monde sans prison est que nous avons rĂ©alisĂ© Ă  quel point cela a Ă©tĂ© une mauvaise expĂ©rience. Les prisons sont directement en lien avec un systĂšme qui est trĂšs oppressif et incarnent l’un des derniers points d’une stratĂ©gie qui cible continuellement et systĂ©matiquement certaines populations. Les prisons ont pour but d’assurer la stabilitĂ© et le bon fonctionnement d’un systĂšme qui cause beaucoup de mal, plutĂŽt que du bien. Sans entrer dans les dĂ©tails, je pense que c’est l’une des raisons pour lesquelles nous aimerions un monde sans prisons. Une autre raison est le mal que l’enfermement Ă  long terme fait aux gens. Je pense que la plupart des gens seraient d’accord pour dire qu’ĂȘtre en cage pendant une longue pĂ©riode n’est pas une bonne chose Ă  faire aux autres. MĂȘme au niveau le plus Ă©lĂ©mentaire de la comprĂ©hension humaine, je pense que nous sommes toutes et tous d’accord sur ce point.

R : J’ajouterais deux choses : l’une est en quelque sorte ce que vous Ă©voquez, Ă  savoir que l’abolition des prisons est profondĂ©ment liĂ©e Ă  la volontĂ© de vivre dans un monde oĂč les personnes ont ce dont elles ont besoin et ne sont pas blessĂ©es par notre façon d’interagir les un·e·s avec les autres. Les prisons sont profondĂ©ment liĂ©es Ă  l’histoire du colonialisme dans ce contexte, Ă  l’histoire de l’esclavage aux États-Unis, et ici. Certaines des premiĂšres personnes Ă  ĂȘtre dĂ©tenues dans des prisons au Canada Ă©taient des leaders autochtones qui menaient des soulĂšvements contre l’expansion de l’État canadien. Si on se penche sur l’histoire des prisons fĂ©dĂ©rales comme celle de Stony Mountain, on voit que certaines des premiĂšres personnes dĂ©tenues dans cette prison Ă©taient des personnes qui ont combattu l’État canadien pendant la rĂ©bellion du Nord-Ouest et que certains des premi·er·Úres·s gardien·ne·s et des personnes travaillant dans cette prison Ă©taient des soldats qui avaient Ă©tĂ© envoyĂ©s dans l’Ouest pour combattre cette rĂ©bellion. Il y a donc une histoire trĂšs profonde d’interaction entre les prisons et le colonialisme. Lorsque nous parlons d’abolition des prisons, nous pensons Ă  un monde dans lequel le colonialisme n’existe pas non plus. Il faut voir la prison comme un aspect des structures de pouvoir oppressives que vous avez mentionnĂ©es et qui empĂȘchent vraiment les personnes d’avoir accĂšs aux choses dont elles ont besoin, et d’avoir le genre de relations qu’elles veulent avoir Ă  la fois avec la terre et entre eux. Une autre chose que je voudrais ajouter, c’est que cela illustre un peu ce que nous voulons dire quand nous parlons du complexe carcĂ©ro-industriel, qui est un grand terme que beaucoup de gens et beaucoup d’abolitionnistes carcĂ©ral utilisent pour expliquer comment nous ne parlons pas seulement des bĂątiments, mais des prisons elles-mĂȘmes. Quand bien mĂȘme que le bĂątiment pouvait fermer, nous aurions un problĂšme avec le systĂšme.
Le complexe carcĂ©ro-industriel est en fait profondĂ©ment liĂ© au capitalisme. Il dĂ©signe des sociĂ©tĂ©s qui gagnent de l’argent en logeant des gens en prison, il s’agit de tous les services sociaux qui gagnent beaucoup d’argent en “soutenant” les personnes en libertĂ© conditionnelle, en aidant les gens Ă  suivre les rĂšgles du programme de bracelet Ă©lectronique ou des choses comme ça. Toutes ces choses sont considĂ©rĂ©es comme faisant partie du complexe carcĂ©ro-industriel, donc lorsque nous parlons d’abolition des prisons, nous ne parlons pas seulement de nous dĂ©barrasser des bĂątiments et des murs ; nous parlons d’un systĂšme beaucoup plus vaste qui rend la lutte beaucoup plus difficile d’une certaine maniĂšre, mais qui pointe Ă©galement vers le monde dans lequel nous voulons vivre et pour lequel nous nous battons.

A : Je pourrais probablement ajouter Ă  cela, en ce qui concerne la façon dont on y pense, qu’il ne s’agit pas nĂ©cessairement d’une abolition de la prison, mĂȘme si le terme pourrait ĂȘtre l’abolition pĂ©nale.

Q : Donc, si nous n’avions pas de prisons, comment ferions-nous face Ă  la criminalitĂ© ?

R : Tout d’abord, commençons par ceci : nous avons toujours traitĂ© la criminalitĂ©, si nous devons l’appeler criminalitĂ©, appelons-la plutĂŽt “harm” (il n’y a pas de traduction exacte en français pour harm, mais cela signifie faire du mal ou causer du tort Ă  quelqu’unE, faire un mĂ©fait, ou porter prĂ©judice, mais sans nĂ©cessairement qu’il n’y ait d’intention de heurter la personne), car cela reflĂšte mieux ce que nous dĂ©signons. Nous avons toujours fait face aux “harm” causĂ©s contre nous, sur nous, au sein de nos communautĂ©s, nous avons de nombreuses stratĂ©gies et mĂȘme dans les situations les plus horribles, on nous laisse faire notre deuil et avancer par nous-mĂȘmes. Et je ne parle pas seulement du “harm” personnel, je parle du “harm” du colonialisme, des problĂšmes liĂ©s au travail, dans tous les contextes, nous avons dĂ» faire face au “harm”, nous avons donc les moyens de faire face au “harm”, mĂȘme s’ils ne sont pas idĂ©aux, nous y sommes parvenus. Nous pourrions donc en tirer des leçons sur la maniĂšre dont nous avons traitĂ© le “harm” qui nous ont Ă©tĂ© infligĂ©s et qui n’ont jamais Ă©tĂ© considĂ©rĂ©s comme un crime et qui n’ont jamais Ă©tĂ© considĂ©rĂ©s comme quelque chose qui mĂ©rite d’ĂȘtre rectifiĂ© Ă  un degrĂ© quelconque. L’autre chose, c’est qu’il y a des façons de faire quand on se fait du mal les uns aux autres Ă  ce niveau interpersonnel. La façon dont les choses sont faites actuellement, c’est qu’il y a une personne responsable du mal et c’est punitif et la personne doit ĂȘtre enfermĂ©e pour que le mal soit rĂ©parĂ©. Je ne pense pas que quiconque, mĂȘme Ă  ce niveau, soit satisfait. Encore une fois, je vais m’en tenir au niveau de base de chacun d’entre nous, Ă  savoir que mĂȘme dans le systĂšme, ceux qui sont passĂ©s par le systĂšme en tant que victimes ne le voient pas non plus comme satisfaisant ou rĂ©parateur d’une maniĂšre rĂ©elle.

R : Je dirais simplement que ce qui est considĂ©rĂ© comme un crime dans notre sociĂ©tĂ© actuelle est rĂ©vĂ©lateur de ce que les gens au pouvoir pensent devoir ĂȘtre traitĂ© en termes de “harm”. Ainsi, les personnes qui dirigent des usines gĂ©antes oĂč des personnes sont blessĂ©es ne seront souvent pas poursuivies au pĂ©nal pour ces actions, mĂȘme si elles savaient que les machines qui fonctionnaient dans leurs usines Ă©taient dangereuses. Les sociĂ©tĂ©s qui dĂ©versent du pĂ©trole dans l’ocĂ©an et sur la terre n’encourent souvent aucune consĂ©quence pour avoir fait cela. La plupart des policiers qui tuent des gens ne sont pas poursuivis pour cela. Il y a donc une grande diffĂ©rence entre la façon dont le systĂšme juridique dĂ©finit ce qui est considĂ©rĂ© comme un crime et ce que les gens de la base et des diffĂ©rentes communautĂ©s pourraient dĂ©finir comme un “harm”. Et ĂȘtre capable de voir ces diffĂ©rences, de voir cette distinction, peut vous conduire dans la direction de ce que nous ferions si nous n’avions pas de prisons, ce qui, je pense, a Ă©tĂ© moins une conversation au cours des six derniers mois que ce que nous ferions si nous n’avions pas de police.

Je pense que le meurtre de George Floyd aux États-Unis a vraiment mis au premier plan une conversation sur ce que nous ferions si nous n’avions pas de police, et il y a beaucoup d’organisations extraordinaires qui ont travaillĂ© pour donner aux gens des rĂ©ponses Ă  cette question. Parmi celles qui me viennent Ă  l’esprit, citons des groupes comme Critical Resistance [1], qui s’est aussi beaucoup occupĂ© d’abolition pĂ©nale. Et beaucoup de groupes diffĂ©rents qui ont opĂ©rĂ© dans diffĂ©rents quartiers oĂč les personnes n’ont pas pu appeler les flics pour une raison ou une autre, et si elles le faisaient, les flics ne viendraient pas, ou dans des communautĂ©s oĂč les gens savent que les flics ne vont pas rĂ©soudre leurs problĂšmes. Et donc ces personnes doivent se doter de moyens plus populaires de traiter les problĂšmes qui surgissent dans les communautĂ©s, qu’il s’agisse de conflits ou de dommages.

Oui, donc je pense qu’avoir cette distinction est vraiment utile – les distinctions entre “crime” et “harm” sont vraiment utiles. Je pense qu’il y a beaucoup d’exemples trĂšs inspirants dans le monde entier sur la façon dont les gens ont traitĂ© le mal sans utiliser de mesures punitives comme les prisons. L’exemple mythique dont nous parlions l’autre jour en prĂ©parant cette interview, m’a Ă©tĂ© racontĂ© comme une histoire sur les zapatistes. Je n’ai jamais pu trouver la source de cette histoire et je ne sais pas si elle concerne rĂ©ellement les zapatistes ou si elle concerne une communautĂ© qui a atteint un haut niveau d’autonomie par rapport aux structures de l’État et qui est capable d’expĂ©rimenter sa propre façon de gĂ©rer le “harm”. Mais l’histoire est celle d’une communautĂ© dans laquelle quelqu’un a assassinĂ© quelqu’un d’autre, peut-ĂȘtre dans le contexte d’un conflit qu’ils avaient. Et la dĂ©cision que la communautĂ© a prise en termes de consĂ©quences pour cette personne est qu’elle a fini par vivre avec la famille de la personne qu’elle avait tuĂ©e, en partie parce que, d’aprĂšs l’histoire, il s’agissait d’une communautĂ© trĂšs rurale oĂč les gens dĂ©pendaient vraiment de l’agriculture pour obtenir leur nourriture et l’accĂšs Ă  la nourriture pour la communautĂ© et des choses comme ça. La famille qui avait perdu un membre de sa famille avait besoin d’aide pour l’agriculture et l’approvisionnement en nourriture, et la consĂ©quence pour cette personne Ă©tait de vivre avec la famille de la personne qu’elle avait tuĂ©e pendant un an. Je pense que cela a Ă©tĂ© Ă©voquĂ©, nous en parlions comme d’une histoire mythique, comme d’un exemple de ce qui peut arriver, qui n’est pas la prison, qui n’est pas punitif, qui n’est pas une punition, qui est une rĂ©paration, et qui essaie de traiter directement un prĂ©judice d’une maniĂšre qui inclut les personnes qui ont Ă©tĂ© lĂ©sĂ©es dans le processus de dĂ©cision et dans la conversation.

Q : Je suis convaincue ! Alors maintenant, comment faire pour y arriver ?

R : J’ai rĂ©flĂ©chi Ă  cette question et je pense que l’une des choses Ă  faire est de faire preuve d’imagination pour trouver des exemples de pratiques qui ont fonctionnĂ© et qui ne se sont pas appuyĂ©es sur des structures Ă©tatiques pour dĂ©finir et traiter les prĂ©judices.

A : Je pense qu’il y a un large Ă©ventail de choses que les gens essaient de faire pour y arriver et certaines d’entre elles sont des stratĂ©gies organisationnelles plus collectives. Il y a des groupes comme Critical resistance [1], que j’ai mentionnĂ©, qui ont beaucoup Ă©crit sur les rĂ©formes non rĂ©formistes, dont ils parlent et qui consistent, par exemple, Ă  refuser de faire pression pour des prisons qui ne sont pas Ă  double occupation, parce que cela conduit souvent Ă  la construction de plus de prisons, et Ă  dire clairement que lorsque vous faites des demandes au gouvernement, vous devez vous assurer que le rĂ©sultat final est de retirer des ressources du systĂšme carcĂ©ral autant que possible.

Mais il y a aussi des choses qui entrent dans la catĂ©gorie de la justice transformatrice, qui ressemblent parfois Ă  des processus de cercle [2], parfois Ă  de la mĂ©diation de conflit. Tout ce genre de choses auxquelles je pense, comme les communautĂ©s qui s’assoient et essaient de trouver comment gĂ©rer les conflits et le “harm”, diffĂ©rentes stratĂ©gies de facilitation et diffĂ©rents processus structurĂ©s ont Ă©tĂ© mis au point. Il y a beaucoup de groupes qui ont fait cela au fil des ans. Certains de ceux que j’ai lus le plus souvent et qui me viennent Ă  l’esprit sont Philly Stands Up [3] et Philly’s Pissed [4]. Je ne pense pas qu’elles existent encore, mais il y a beaucoup d’Ă©crits en ligne sur le soutien aux personnes qui ont causĂ© du “harm”, et sur le type de changement transformateur que l’on peut encourager les gens Ă  apporter dans leur propre vie lorsqu’ils le veulent et qu’ils ont le bon systĂšme de soutien. Mais aussi sur le soutien aux personnes qui ont Ă©tĂ© lĂ©sĂ©es et sur ce Ă  quoi cela ressemble. Il y a beaucoup d’organisations fĂ©ministes noires qui ont fait ce genre de travail dans le passĂ©. À MontrĂ©al, il y a le collectif Third Eye [5] qui a fait beaucoup de travail dans ce domaine au cours des cinq ou dix derniĂšres annĂ©es.

Et puis il y a la mĂ©diation des conflits Ă  la base, qui a pris toutes sortes de formes. Il y a beaucoup de petits groupes dans la ville qui essaient de faire ce genre de choses. Il y a beaucoup de mĂ©diateurs et mĂ©diatrices locaux qui sont prĂȘts Ă  intervenir et Ă  aider dans ce genre de choses, dans le but de ne pas impliquer la police. Je vais briĂšvement mentionner d’autres stratĂ©gies qui, selon moi, vont dans le sens de l’abolition : des choses comme la dĂ©nonciation publique que le mouvement #MeToo a popularisĂ© au cours des cinq derniĂšres annĂ©es environ. Une autre stratĂ©gie est celle des rĂ©parations matĂ©rielles qui, aux États-Unis, sont gĂ©nĂ©ralement considĂ©rĂ©es comme des rĂ©parations matĂ©rielles pour les personnes dont les ancĂȘtres ont Ă©tĂ© rĂ©duit·e·s en esclavage, mais au Canada, je pense que nous pouvons Ă©galement parler de “restitution des terres”, un slogan qui est devenu trĂšs populaire sur Internet au cours des derniĂšres annĂ©es, mais qui a toujours Ă©tĂ© un slogan du mouvement anticolonial et des mouvements de souverainetĂ© autochtone qui font pression pour la restitution des terres.

Je vais briĂšvement mentionner quelques autres organisations abolitionnistes : il y a le Revolutionary abolitionnist movement qui est actuellement basĂ© aux Etats-Unis et que les gens devraient consulter. Il y a aussi Critical Resistance, que j’ai dĂ©jĂ  mentionnĂ©. Il y a un site web appelĂ© Everyday Abolition [6] que les gens peuvent consulter et qui propose de nombreuses stratĂ©gies auxquelles ils peuvent rĂ©flĂ©chir. Il y a le groupe Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective [7] qui a popularisĂ© l’idĂ©e du “podding” que les gens pourraient examiner en termes de pratiques au sein des groupes d’ami·e·s pour gĂ©rer les conflits et les dommages. Ce sont lĂ  quelques-unes des organisations et des stratĂ©gies qui nous viennent Ă  l’esprit lorsque nous rĂ©flĂ©chissons Ă  la maniĂšre de parvenir Ă  un monde sans prisons et sans police.

Une derniĂšre chose que je voulais mentionner, c’est que je pense qu’il est trĂšs important pour les gens de soutenir les prisonnier·Úre·s ; qu’une partie vraiment importante de la politique abolitionniste des prisons est d’ĂȘtre en contact avec les gens de l’intĂ©rieur. Cela permet de montrer aux personnes qui n’ont aucune expĂ©rience du systĂšme carcĂ©ral combien il est nĂ©cessaire et urgent d’abolir le systĂšme carcĂ©ral. Cela vous montre la profondeur de ce qu’est rĂ©ellement le systĂšme, ce ne sont pas seulement les murs, ce sont les travailleurs sociaux Ă  l’extĂ©rieur, les maisons de transition, les programmes auxquels les gens sont forcé·e·s de participer et toutes sortes de choses diffĂ©rentes. Je dirais que les conversations que j’ai eues avec des personnes qui ont fait beaucoup de temps ont trĂšs sĂ©rieusement façonnĂ© ma politique en matiĂšre d’abolition. Bien sĂ»r, toutes les personnes avec lesquelles vous ĂȘtes en contact ne sont pas forcĂ©ment abolitionnistes, mais je pense que les politiques abolitionnistes nĂ©cessitent d’ĂȘtre en contact avec les personnes en prison.

R : Je voulais juste mentionner que depuis la crĂ©ation des prisons telles que nous les connaissons, il y a eu une rĂ©sistance constante de la part des personnes qui travaillent trĂšs prĂšs des prisons et des prisonnier·Úre·s Ă©videmment, et cela a Ă©tĂ© hĂ©ritĂ© de l’Ă©tat colonial qui est venu d’Angleterre, depuis le dĂ©but, bien que cela ait Ă©tĂ© apportĂ© comme une alternative et une forme plus humaine de punition dans leur contexte, il y a eu une opposition constante de la part de nombreux·euses membres des communautĂ©s, mais ils ont Ă©tĂ© Ă©touffé·e·s. Leurs voix ont Ă©tĂ© rĂ©duites au silence. Et cette histoire a Ă©galement Ă©tĂ© rĂ©duite au silence, comme s’il s’agissait d’une chose naturelle si nous recherchions la justice d’une maniĂšre ou d’une autre – comme si c’Ă©tait le cas. MĂȘme dans notre propre esprit, nous n’avons pas besoin de remonter aussi loin dans le temps ou d’aller aussi loin pour envisager un monde sans prison. C’est proche de ce qui existait avant son existence en fait. Je ne dis pas que nous devrions rĂ©tablir la torture ou ces moyens, mais le fait qu’elle ait toujours Ă©tĂ© ce que l’État a distribuĂ© comme forme de justice a toujours suscitĂ© une rĂ©sistance. Elle n’a jamais fait partie d’un mouvement populaire pour construire des prisons. Elle n’a jamais fait partie de ce que les gens voulaient dans leurs communautĂ©s. C’est un Ă©tat de fait imposĂ© avec des objectifs trĂšs rĂ©els.

Q : Alors, comment s’impliquer dans des projets abolitionnistes ?

R : Il existe de nombreuses façons de s’impliquer dans des projets abolitionnistes Ă  MontrĂ©al. Je suis sĂ»r que vous allez parler Ă  beaucoup d’autres personnes pour ce podcast, donc les gens auront beaucoup d’idĂ©es diffĂ©rentes. Pour ne citer que quelques options, il y a le Prisonner Correspondance Project [8] qui est un projet de correspondance et de ressources pour les personnes queer et trans emprisonnĂ©es et qui les met en contact avec des communautĂ©s similaires Ă  l’extĂ©rieur. Il existe Ă©galement le Anticarceral Group [9]. Il y a aussi le projet de calendrier Certain Days [10]. Si les gens sont Ă  la recherche de matĂ©riel et de ressources Ă©ducatives, Kersplebedeb Publishing [11] est basĂ© Ă  MontrĂ©al et possĂšde une tonne de livres Ă©crits par des dĂ©tenuEs ou sur le systĂšme carcĂ©ral, que les gens peuvent obtenir pour mieux comprendre les choses. Il existe un groupe appelĂ© Opendoor Books [11] qui envoie des livres aux personnes en prison. Et il y a la Black Indigenous Harm Reduction Alliance [13] qui, la derniĂšre fois que j’ai vĂ©rifiĂ©, organisait une collecte de fonds pour envoyer des “care packages” aux femmes actuellement incarcĂ©rĂ©es Ă  la prison provinciale de Leclerc, l’une des nombreuses prisons situĂ©es dans le mĂȘme bloc Ă  Laval, en banlieue de MontrĂ©al. VoilĂ  donc les projets que je mentionnerais et que les gens peuvent aller voir s’ils cherchent Ă  s’impliquer dans la politique abolitionniste Ă  MontrĂ©al. Évidemment, Ă  cause de la pandĂ©mie, beaucoup de groupes sont en attente ou ne vous rĂ©pondront pas aussi rapidement qu’ils le feraient normalement, mais j’espĂšre que les choses pourront reprendre Ă  un moment donnĂ© dans le futur.

Conclusion :
L’existence de la police, des prisons et de l’ensemble du systĂšme carcĂ©ral fait plus de mal que de bien Ă  nos communautĂ©s ; elle protĂšge les riches et le systĂšme capitaliste tout en punissant les personnes pauvres et racisĂ©es qui tentent de survivre dans ces limites. Si nous travaillons ensemble pour crĂ©er des alternatives aux prisons, nous pourrions construire des communautĂ©s plus fortes et plus Ă©galitaires qui se concentrent sur la justice et l’Ă©quitĂ© plutĂŽt que sur la vengeance et la punition.

Si vous souhaitez en savoir plus sur l’abolition des prisons et les effets nĂ©gatifs des prisons sur les personnes directement touchĂ©es et leurs communautĂ©s, consultez notre prochain Ă©pisode, oĂč nous interviewerons Helen Hudson, une militante abolitionniste qui s’implique depuis plus de vingt ans.

References:

  1. Critical resistance
  2. Circles processes
  3. Philly Stands Up
  4. Philly’s Pissed
  5. Third Eye Collective — Montreal
  6. Everyday Abolition
  7. Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective
  8. Prisonner Correspondence Project
  9. Anti-carceral Group
  10. Certain Days
  11. Kersplebedeb Publishing
  12. Opendoor Books
  13. Black Indigenous Harm Reduction Alliance

Musique:

  • Rebel Diaz – Revolutionary Minded
  • Rebel Diaz – Revolution Has Come
  • Jason Camp & The Posers – Silver Tongued White Man

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Source: Clac-montreal.net