Jobs Not Jails

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Notes from December 2014 Jobs Not Jails Reconvening

Jan 9, 2015 | by Rachel Corey

Continuing from the September 2014 meeting, Jobs Not Jails continued to envision a decarcerated future in Massachusetts.

Jobs Not Jails Reconvening

Saturday, December 6, 2014

10am-12pm

Freedom House, 5 Crawford Street, Dorchester, MA

Participants were asked to grapple with the following questions in small groups:

There are a series of articles written (20 years from now) about the work of JNJ – what did the headlines say? What are your top 3 accomplishments (or big wins)? What transformed? How did peoples lives change?

What does sustainability look like? What kind of power will JNJ need to build?

Whose life is JNJ’s work impacting? With whom (stakeholder groups) will JNJ need to be in a relationship with to achieve the above accomplishments?

What kind of leadership will JNJ need to achieve its goals? Who holds and participates in this leadership?

 

The 20-years-from-now headlines painted a picture of a society where very few people are incarcerated; everyone is employed, everyone gets as much free education, medical, mental health and addiction treatment as they want, and everyone is well-housed.  Racism no longer exists, or at least is decreasing fast.  And all of this was sparked by us!!

Sustainability: many people made the point that it is based on continuing mass actions; also on strong connections among people and organizations working on different aspects of the problems.  “Good” leadership, defined more fully in the next sections, is essential as well, and includes frequent and open communication between leadership and rank-and-file.  Legislation – turning demands into law – will protect gains and let us move forward to the next level.

Who is impacted by JNJ’s work? Many people gave a long list and ended up saying EVERYONE.  In particular, and mainly, it is the same people who must be our leaders: those most directly affected.  This includes first and foremost people of color and other marginalized groups like immigrants, the poor, youth, addicted people and the mentally ill.  But “everyone” is almost true, even though not everyone yet realizes this.

Leadership: everybody said our movement must be led by the people most directly affected, ie prisoners, ex-prisoners, communities of color and other marginalized people.  At the same time it is important to maintain strong alliances with others, as our demands are actually in the interests of almost everyone – even including, for example, people who work in the correctional system.

There was some discussion in the whole meeting of the question of whether JNJ’s work should be focused on building a mass movement or on getting laws passed.  It seemed that the general feeling was that we should do both, maybe by having different committees for each thing that communicate with each other.

It was also strongly expressed that we should all be working with the young people (Black Lives Matter) who have been and are right now in the streets every day about police racism and brutality and the murder of black people!