[Prison Teach-In]

A panel discussion about prison reform and abolition in New York City.

00:00Copy video clip URL At a table in the front of a room, a man named Tony argues for prison abolition because crime is a result of the system’s inequalities. He talks about the racial inequalities in the prison population and the ways that police avoid consequences for their actions, which include the illegal beating of prisoners. 

04:08Copy video clip URL Janet Searle from the Women’s Bail Fund discusses her organization’s efforts to prevent incarceration because of the lack of money to cover bail, and to bring awareness to the dire conditions in which women prisoners are forced to live. She points out that people are incarcerated not because they are criminals but because they come from the wrong communities. 

10:03Copy video clip URL Journalist Jack Newfield discusses Mayor Lindsay’s unfortunate responses to recent prison rebellions and commissioner George McGrath’s disastrous negligence. 

15:26Copy video clip URL Another man talks about the basic needs that prisons must provide incarcerated persons with, including mattresses, tooth brushes, and paper and pencils. Another member of the panel insists that the list is insufficient. The two biggest problems, he says, are bail and narcotics. Addicted persons need to be hospitalized and people who cannot raise bail should not be penalized. 

18:41Copy video clip URL Searle agrees that the list is insufficient to comfort the victims of an unfair justice system. 

20:10Copy video clip URL Searle reiterates that the only sufficient step is to eliminate jails entirely. She approves of efforts to incrementally improve the lives of incarcerated persons but that debating the need for toothbrushes is besides the point. Tony likens prisons to concentration camps and agrees with Searle that satisfying basic, minimal necessities for prisoners does not address the real problem. Searle reiterates that her organization’s position is that bail should be wholly abolished. 

23:54Copy video clip URL Newfield agrees with Searle, asserting that bail is a punishment for the absence of wealth. 

24:26Copy video clip URL Another man on the panel tells an anecdote about the precariousness of anyone required to raise bail with only a single phone call and cites a study that demonstrates that the bail system does not function properly.

26:32Copy video clip URL Tony and Newfield discuss the inaccuracies of the city’s pathologists who investigate the cause of death of inmates. 

29:26Copy video clip URL The other man and Tony details their frustrations in trying to hold guards accountable for violence against prisoners. 

31:20Copy video clip URL Newfield calls for mass demonstrations of people in the street to abolish the prison system.



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