States of prison abolition: COVID-19 and anti-colonial and anti-racist organising

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  • 1 University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • | 2 Bishop’s University, Canada
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Until recently, carceral and penal logics have proliferated the global scene unabated. The coronavirus pandemic not only ushered a moment of pause for the world, but in some areas, even a reversal in carceral trends. In many countries, some sectors experienced unprecedented reductions in imprisonment and migrant detention. Even where the pandemic advanced more invasive carceral controls, such as with policing through health checks and issuing tickets, it also fuelled global resistance through the Black Lives Matter movement. In the wake of the pandemic, an uprising of activists, advocates and supporters captured the public imagination with anti-racist and abolition uprisings and advances in community care. In the lands now known as Australia and Canada, where the criminalisation and incarceration of Indigenous people has been increasing, this mobilising has resulted in important alliances and advancements to challenge these carceral and penal trajectories. In this article, we trace several abolitionist initiatives to show how the convergence of COVID-19 and anti-racist and anti-colonial movements catalysed an important moment for abolitionist organising.

  • 1 University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • | 2 Bishop’s University, Canada

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