In 2018, an estimated 4.5 million people in the US were under some form of community supervision, compared to the 2.3 million people behind bars (Prison Policy Institute, 2018). The massive, expanding industry of transferring people from prison to community supervision—the prisoner reentry industry—is often touted as a "rehabilitative" alternative to the punitive policies of mass incarceration. In reality, it is largely set up to entrap criminalized people in cycles of failure, while encouraging them to blame themselves for that failure. The prisoner reentry industry perpetuates narratives of individual responsibility that attempt to blame the survivors of systems of oppression for the oppressive social conditions they face, thus justifying their continued criminalization and marginalization, while masking the structural root causes of social problems. Therefore, the dehumanizing myths surrounding reentry are a site of significant psychosocial struggle and resistance (while not always registered as such). In the current political moment of uprising and mobilization, Black, Indigenous, disability justice, queer and trans feminist legacies of transformative justice and abolitionist organizing present the path forward towards liberation and decolonization.
This community conversation will begin with a brief presentation about cultural violence and the prisoner reentry industry, then open up to a broader conversation about psychosocial perspectives on prison industrial complex abolition, as well as the roles of psychologists, critical scholars, scholar-activists, etc. in supporting abolition.
Gordon Crean (they/them/theirs or he/him/his) is a white settler, hetero demiguy from a class privileged background. They are a PhD student at UMass Lowell, MA, US, the lands of Pennacook peoples, where they are a mentee of Dr. Urmitapa Dutta. They co-chair the Decolonial Racial Justice Action Group and are on the steering committee of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. Their presentation for this community conversation is based on their first research paper, and they bring the perspective of a novice/beginner, as well as someone inhabiting multiple oppressor identities.
Psychologists for Social Responsibility | 122 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603