|Protest Against Human Rights Abuses in the DC Prison System, by Tejal Kothari|
|Tuesday, 27 March 2012 15:01|
On February 20, 2012, more than 100 people rallied outside of the D.C. jail to protest against mass incarceration, to oppose the human rights abuses endured by prisoners and returning citizens, and to stand in solidarity with prisoners in D.C. and across the country. The rally was one of 16 actions across the country, all a part of the National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners. In a country with only five percent of the world's population but more than twenty percent of the world's prison population, the nationwide actions brought much needed attention to the exploding prison population, its connection to the privatization of prisons, and the utter failure and destructive nature of the U.S. criminal justice system. One common theme connected the hundreds of people who rallied across the country: a commitment to dismantling an unjust and coercive system that has torn apart families and individuals for far too long.
In D.C., the rally brought together a wide range of people fed up with mass incarceration's effect on D.C. residents and families. Because the rally coincided with visiting hours at the jail, several family members of people currently incarcerated joined the action to express their personal frustrations and experiences with the criminal justice-or rather, injustice-system. Protestors spoke out against new visiting procedures at the jail: the Department of Corrections plans to replace one inhumane visitation procedure -- visits with loved ones through glass partitions -- with an even more alienating one. Soon, prisoners will have no human contact with loved ones but rather will have teleconferenced visits through video screens.
People also spoke out against other forms of dehumanization that D.C. prisoners endure: overcrowding in the jail; increased use of solitary confinement; and abuse and maltreatment at the hands of privately owned and operated prisons. Formerly incarcerated people and returning citizens expressed their frustrations with the insurmountable barriers people face if and when they return from prison. Basic human needs and wants -- such as housing, employment, and education -- are inaccessible (often legally) to the more than 60,000 formerly incarcerated people living in D.C. The rally shed light on these and other injustices perpetuated under the guise of "law and order." Ultimately, the day brought together people invested in confronting and challenging the many fronts of mass incarceration and continued a dialogue that is gaining momentum across the country.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 29 March 2012 00:08|