Debunking "Norwegian Prison Reform" As Propaganda with Oakland Abolition and Solidarity
Manage episode 359223419 series 1686850
In this episode we interview Brooke Terpstra and James Carlin, members of Oakland Abolition and Solidarity. Oakland Abolition and Solidarity supports prisoners’ efforts to organize for their own self-defense against inhumane treatment. They function as a liaison, building bridges between inside and outside to support prisoners organizing their local chapters. They advocate the abolition of incarceration, white supremacy, and capitalism.
We speak with Brooke and Carlin about a recent announcement made by California Governor Gavin Newsom, that claims that he will transform San Quentin prison into a Norwegian style prison. This claims has been widely disseminated within mainstream media, alongside visions of Newsom as some transformational prison reformer. Ultimately this is a form of carceral propaganda that serves a similar function of other forms of copaganda that we see all the times with relation to policing.
Brooke and Carlin talk about some of the realities of San Quentin, its role in our imagination of prisons in the US which unsurprisingly out of step with the reality on the ground inside. We also talk about these concepts of "the Norway Model," or "Norwegian prisons," or "Scandinavian prisons," and how these concepts function in our society. Discussing the propaganda purpose they serve, which is more significant than the actual reality of these types of projects. There’s also some discussion of efforts, which happen across the country, to develop a small set of programs inside individual prisons that can serve as smokescreens for the prison system as a whole. To have an individual prison capable of hosting tours, and producing 5 o’clock news segments of prisoners doing organic gardening, taking yoga classes, or training emotional support dogs as part of an effort to mystify the level of violence that is the every day reality of all prisoners locked up.
We also talk a little bit broadly about why the idea of Norwegian prisons has currency in the US, who this appeals to, and discuss possible motivations for politicians deploying this language and image through the media. We close with a brief discussion of whether California actually represents a model for decarceration with its declines in prison population over the last 15 years or so.
Most of this conversation is dedicated to debunking certain ideas and mythologies, but the work of groups like Oakland Abolition and Solidarity is extremely important. Here is a link to their website and also a link where you can donate to support their work.
And for us we’re really close to hitting our monthly goal on patreon, we only need 4 more new patrons at the time of this show. So kick in $1 a month or whatever you can spare at patreon.com/millennialsarekillingcapitalism and join the wonderful folks who make this show possible.
Journalism For Liberation and Combat (featuring Brooke Terpstra and many other organizers and media workers)