Publication Date

Fall 10-16-2012

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Nikoi Kote-Nikoi

Abstract

Today, nearly two and a half million people in the U.S. are living in cages, with New Orleans holding the highest per capita rate of incarceration. While we have consistently seen that building cages does not bring us any closer to actualizing safety, the sheriff and other city officials of New Orleans justify a financially profitable plan to create more cages-to warehouse more of the city's people-in the name of safety.

Using an abolitionist framework, this paper examines safety by differentiating between contributing factors of being secure and factors which create harm in our communities. By tracing these factors to their root, this paper analyzes how our current climate is shaped by a continual chain of historical events. Through this examination, this paper connects the effects of relational experiences to the symptoms we face and supports that our solutions to such symptoms must address their core.

I propose that the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) relies on continued violence to maintain interlocking systems of control, while individuals within its domain are stigmatized and encaged under its definition of crime. The analysis provided suggests that the current discourse actually causes more harm, steadily diminishing safety. Consequently, this paper supports that if we rely on the PIC to solve our lack of safety, we will never effectively address the issue.

This paper presents the above analysis, through the description of one case study of a policy advocacy campaign to fight a local jail expansion. However, the examined problem is not limited to New Orleans, and should not be approached in isolation from a national, and even global context. By analyzing the effectiveness of proposed policy solutions, this paper suggests that policy steps aimed to decarcerate can be an effective tool. Inevitably, the possibility for solutions to these problems, which I defend cannot be achieved within our current discourse, can only begin to be actualized through a long-term engagement in the practice of abolition.

In conclusion, this paper presents the possibility of self-determined solutions that recognize and address both state-inflicted harm and person-to-person harm, inevitably equipping us to better strengthen our communities and make us more secure than cages do.

Disciplines

Civic and Community Engagement | Criminal Law | Inequality and Stratification | Political History | Politics and Social Change | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Urban Studies and Planning