Following the National Lawyers Guild Law for the People Convention in October 2015, NLG membership adopted a resolution calling for “the dismantling and abolition of all prisons and of all aspects of systems and institutions that support, condone, create, fill, or protect prisons.” In honor of this resolution, in 2016 the NLG expanded our annual Student Day Against the Death Penalty to become the Week Against Mass Incarceration (WAMI).
WAMI 2021 will be held March 1-6 and the theme is
“Prison Abolition and Beyond”
For the 2021 Week Against Mass Incarceration (March 1-6), we ask NLG Law Schools and Local Chapters to organize around the theme of “Prison Abolition and Beyond” to include all locations and instances in which people are held against their will, including jails, immigration detention, juvenile detention facilities, psychiatric wards, and more. We also intend the “beyond” to include consideration of the abolition of policing as part of the larger mass incarceration system (and in line with the Guild’s 2020 resolution supporting the abolition of police).
Ways To Participate in WAMI 2021
In past years, Guild members and chapters have organized interactive workshops, community discussions, film screenings, tabling, letter writing campaigns, banner drops, visits to incarcerated youth, and panels on topics such as solitary confinement, the school to prison pipeline, immigration detention, transformative justice, and alternatives to incarceration.
In 2021, due to COVID-19 restrictions and the virtual nature of most law schools, we encourage NLG members to organize digital events that highlight the many harms caused by the current mass incarceration system and carceral logic. This can include virtual panels and workshops, letter writing events, social media campaigns, research projects, and more! To help with your organizing, check out our NLG Scholars Network and see the list of resources below.
An ongoing project we ask law school chapters to undertake involves researching and publishing information on your campus police departments. NLG law student members at Northeastern University Law school created a template for analyzing the practices and policies of private police forces at universities. We are hoping all Guild chapters can produce similar reports to share! Take a look at the Guide To Interrogating Campus Police as Law Students to get started.
The Guild engages in numerous initiatives to promote an end to mass incarceration nationally and locally. Current NLG decarceration initiatives include the NLG Bay Area Prisoner Advocacy Network, the Guild Notes column, “Beyond Bars: Voices from NLG Jailhouse Lawyers,” and the Jailhouse Lawyer Speak’s International Law Project (a Working Group within the NLG’s Mass Incarceration Committee). The NLG in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights holds weekly sessions in which volunteers go through the tens of thousands of letters received every year from people in prison for either Jailhouse Lawyer Handbook requests (processed during handbook packing session nights) or NLG members requests. (This program was put on indefinite hold during 2020 due to the pandemic). NLG members are involved in various initiatives opposing policing, criminalization, solitary confinement, capital punishment, and new prison construction.
Please email NLG Director of Research and Education Traci Yoder at firstname.lastname@example.org to share the events you are organizing! Everyone should post flyers, pictures, and event invites on the Week Against Mass Incarceration Facebook event page and join the conversation on Twitter using #WAMI2021 and #Decarcerate. Tweet to us @NLGnews!
Mass Incarceration Resources
NLG 2020 Resolution Supporting the Abolition of Policing (NLG Article, 2020)
“Punishment and Policing in the Trump Era,” by M. Brown (Article, 2017)
The Role of Police in Ending Mass Incarceration (Report, 2019)
“Defunding the Police,” by P. Petrequin (NLG Article, 2020)
“The Policing Question: Protection vs. Service in 2020,” H. McDougall (NLG Article, 2020)
NLG Webinar: Implementing Abolition (NLG Webinar, 2020)
Prison Abolition Syllabus (Guided Resource List, 2016)
“Abolition for the People” (Article, 2020)
Are Prisons Obsolete? by A. Davis (Book PDF, 2003)
Corrections Project PIC Poster (Visual)
Transform Harm (Website)
“Disability Justice and Abolition,” by K. Tastrom (NLG Article, 2020)
“Abolition Medicine” by Y. Iwai, Z. H. Khan, and S. DasGupta (Article, 2020)
“Abolition Must Include Psychiatry,” by S. A. Mensah (Disability Visibility Project Article, 2020)
“To Abolish the Medical Industrial Complex,” by G. Wallace (Black Agenda Report, 2020)
Decarcerating Disability: Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition by L. Ben-Moshe (Book Website, 2020)
“Mass Incarceration and Immigrant Detention,” by A. Wellek (Article, 2016)
War on Drugs
The Sentencing Project (Website)
Drug Policy Alliance (Fact Sheet)
“Drug War Is The New Jim Crow,” by G. Boyd (Article, 2001)
Following the Money of Mass Incarceration (Report, 2017)
Broken on All Sides (Movie Website)
Visions of Abolition (Movie Website)
The 13th (Trailer)
The House I Live In (Movie Website)
The Prison Within (Movie Website)