A Contribution to the Struggle Against Prison and its World


Faced with the restructuring of prisons and their “correctional” apparatus, the chains that bind us to our slavery are becoming shorter and shorter. Those of us who would do away with the cages built around us have some important questions to ask ourselves about the methods and direction of our struggles. As the society outside the walls of prison begins to see an increase in tension and instability, the entire legal machinery (with its courts and prisons) is also weighing heavy with the burden of its overcrowded pens.

As a structure, prison is being applied to manage the growing instability caused by war, economic crisis, ecological collapse and the elevated migration and social conflict that result as a consequence of the last hundred years of rampant capitalist exploitation of land and people. Recently, prisons have been constructed all over the world for migrants, with surveillance and isolation units, and we will see more pop up to deal with the growing number of people sitting behind bars –awaiting their trials. The backlog in the judicial process is growing and swifter, harsher sentencing is on the agenda of Kanada’s correctional services, hoping to clear up its saturated cathedrals of judgment.

Surveillance, stricter identity controls, and integrated policing permeate greater parts of society to serve as a deterrent to all who would think of revolting. The fires that erupted in detention centres for migrants across Europe and the riots that broke out in penitentiaries across Kanada in 2007-2010 urge us not to ignore the signs of things to come, but to meet them with our daggers drawn.

When you know that you’re serving a life sentence, it isn’t just one day after another, no, every day you serve the life term in full, with the memories that anticipate, more and more, your future suffering. This solidification of hours, when they crystallize into a frozen glass… turns life into a disease… It’s the most terrible institution of our era, this justice, tired of outbidding the crime it pretends to punish; it no longer crucifies, tears apart, skins, impales, brands, and even, beheads. There is no longer the iron, the wheel, the gallows, the stake, or anything. What replaces them is time. Life amputated by time! This is prison: time imposed in its nakedness. We no longer kill, we let die.”

-Serge Coutel

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