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Prison Moratorium/Abolition

For nearly 50 years some have argued that prisons are inherently counterproductive and that they should be done away with completely (prison abolition). Others have conceded that some prisons are necessary but that far more people are sentenced to prison than should be. One corrective is to build no new prisons (prison moratorium). These articles explore the extent to which restorative justice programmes and policies could replace prisons.

Prisons in the sky
A logical progression from the obscene supermax prisons. It shows how detached architects can be from real people, My wife taught in a school built [...]
Involving the community
I agree that the "vertical prison" design comes from the idea that separating people is necessary for "transformation." The reality is that this says more [...]
Prisons in the sky
by Dan Van Ness One of the persistent themes in penology has been the idea that architecture can help produce transformation in people. From the monastery-like isolation of prisoners in the Walnut Street Jail and its successor the Eastern State Penitentiary in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries to the Auburn model allowing for aggregate work but individual isolation, to Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, to today's Supermax prisons, form has indeed followed function. Now eVolo magazine has awarded first place in its 2010 Skyscraper Competition to Malaysian architectural students for their Vertical Prison, conceived of as somehow floating high above the ground with elevator pods transporting prisoners, staff, food and so forth between the prison and earth. Prisoners would work in farms to supply earth with organic products. Those who behaved well would be given cells with windows pointed to the earth so they would be motivated to reform themselves. The naivete of the design (the prison floats without support in the sky) and reform strategy (the architecture students do not appear to have researched the history of prisons) is remarkable, as is that of the judges of the competition.
Hagemann, Otmar. Restorative justice in prison?
According to Ottmar Hagemann, programs that could be classified as forms of restorative justice are currently being implemented in prisons in various countries. In this vein, Belgium has recently introduced what are called restorative justice consultants. One works in every prison in Belgium. Yet, inquires Hagemann, is the concept of restorative justice compatible with imprisonment? Hagemann explores the question by discussing abolitionism (advocacy for the elimination of prisons in favor of alternative forms of conflict resolution), restorative justice and abolitionism, the scope of restorative justice in terms of what crimes are and can be addressed, empirical evidence with respect to an in-prison program focusing on offender empathy for victims, and links between restorative justice theory and actual practice in prison settings.
Van Ness, Daniel W. Restorative Justice in Prisons.
Increasingly, Corrections departments throughout the world are implementing restorative programmes in the prison context. This work raises several issues related to the appropriateness of restorative justice in prison and objectives to be met by such programmes. Daniel W. Van Ness, executive director of the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation at Prison Fellowship International presents this overview of the use of restorative justice in prison. This paper was originally presented at Symposium on Restorative Justice and Peace in Colombia, Cali,Colombia, 9-12 February 2005.
Morris, M. Instead of Prisons: A Handbook for Abolitionists.
This handbook is written for those who feel it is time to say "no" to prisons as a long range goal, and to provide practical steps toward achieving the goal of prison abolition. This booklet includes materials by Fay Honey Knopp, Barbara Boward, Mary Jo Brach, Scott Christianson, Mary Ann Largen, Julie Lewin, Janet Lugo, Mark Morris and Wendy Newton. The 9 perspectives for prison abolitionists are presented. Chapters include consideration of abolitionism, demythologizing our views of prison, the attrition model for diminishing/dismantling the prison system, organizing a moratorium on prison/jail construction, plans to decarcerate and excarcerate, consideration of the "dangerous few" problem, envisioning a new response to crimes with victims, and community empowerment.

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