Humane Treatment for All | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

I begin with a declaration. I never believed it radical in nature, but I’m coming to the realization that it might be.

People are not disposable.
People deserve to be treated humanely.

And by people, I mean all people, not just a select few. Not just those who have (thus far) avoided the label criminal; but everyone.

We sometimes view the world in dichotomies. We place things at one end of a continuum or the other. We see something as black or white, not that troublesome gray. We prefer simplicity instead of nuance and complexity. We favor “or” rather than embrace “and.”

But here’s the thing: people who engage in criminal behavior, are still people. The mere fact that they are human, means they still deserve humane treatment.

But what about {insert the most violent, heinous crime ever committed and ask if the victim was treated humanely}? Statements like that become the marker by which all people who have engaged in criminal behavior are measured. Leaving aside the stats that more than half of all prisoners are non-violent offenders, my response is still yes, violent offenders deserve humane treatment, too. That means, no, it’s not okay that prisoners in Texas boil to death due to lack of air conditioning, for instance.  No, it’s not “their fault” that inmates in Philadelphia are denied medical treatment, and are sometimes forced to endure pain and suffering for months at a time.  And no, women who give birth in custody should not be shackled while doing so.

In the coming weeks and months, I plan to unpack my thinking about this and related issues. I’m sure some disagree with my declaration, but therein lies my challenge. I’m up to it.

People are not disposable. People deserve to be treated humanely. And by people, I mean all people, not just a select few.

Activating the activist

I want to begin by suggesting that whoever you are, wherever you are, whether you are a student, an academic, whether you are a worker, a person involved in your church, whether you are an artist…there are always ways to gear your work towards progressive, radical transformation.
      ~Angela Davis – The Prison Industrial Complex (1999)

I’ve been reading, curating and sharing resources about mass incarceration. I plan to do some writing about it as a way to work through what I’m learning. To think through barriers and imagine solutions.

In so doing, I lend my voice to the modern abolitionists: freedom fighters speaking and teaching about mass incarceration and its myriad, interconnected issues. At one point I curated a list of digital resources and my occasional musings, on my Tumblr here. As I think through things more deeply, or at least more fully, I plan to share here.

I am tempted to disparage my own efforts. They seem meaningless in the face of such a massive system. What, really, can sprinkling ideas through social media accomplish? What, really, might a few tentative words contribute?

But on the other hand, you have to start somewhere, yes?  And in a silent room, even a whisper can garner attention, to say nothing of a full-throated response. So I hereby take my voice off mute, as I gear my work toward progressive, radical transformation.

Said June Jordan in Some of Us Did Not Die, “we have choices, and capitulation is only one of them.” Speaking up, speaking back, is another.