Reply To: Session #1: Key Takeaways

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The Whole Pie

I really liked how this piece was constructed because of its focus on dismantling myths about the key issues rooted in the criminal justice system. When first becoming very interested in this field, I also was focused on things such as minimizing private prisons and the injustices of prison labor. However, the more I learned about mass incarceration over time, I realized these are just issues used to distract advocates from changing the root issues. Overall most of the information presented in this piece was not surprising. The one point that stood out to me was the issue of bench warrants. It caused me to reflect on how the individuals have probably been subjected to more bench warrants due to COVID-19. The pandemic has caused everything to shift to an online platform which could make it even more difficult for individuals to “go to” court. This just underscores the point that the criminal justice system does not take into account systemic injustices that may arise. Not only does the system not take these into account, it is designed to punish those who are disadvantaged in some way. For example, if an individual does not have access to stable wifi or even a computer, how are they supposed to show up for virtual court?

Hope is a discipline
I really appreciated the core of this piece because it successfully illustrated the feelings within the abolitionist movement. Especially in regard to Chauvin, I loved how Kaba explained that “justice” as viewed by the majority of people will not really change anything systemically. We have been conditioned to believe that punishing police officers will reduce the large issue of police brutality. As Kaba said, it is easier to place blame on an individual because it absolves the system from taking responsibility and enacting true change. Kaba is right, a guilty verdict for Chauvin will not do much in the effort to mitigate police brutality. Individual police officers are responsible for their actions, but the policing system as a whole are the creators and perpetrators of the problem.

Also I liked how she expanded on what “defund” means in the context of the abolitionist movement. I knew defunding was more than simply minimizing spending on the police. However I hadn’t thought about it as a means to take away power. I really like this point because police abolition needs to be rooted in taking away the legitimacy of the police as an actor in our society. The police have been able to get itself into a dominant position in society in part because of money and mass amounts of financing. However, they are able to maintain their position of dominance through their overall power.