“Prisons as Colonial Relics” in The Routledge International Handbook of Penal Abolition

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…” Isaiah 61:1

In Ghana, the Church of Pentecost has built a prison facility. Ejura Camp Prison–the first ecclesiastically-constructed carceral institution in Ghana–has rained down criticism on the Church of Pentecost. Can this be a right choice for an institution dedicated to righteousness?

In Ghana, the road to carceral expansion is being hewn through the language of human rights, modernity, and public-private partnership. In a context where the existing prison buildings and conditions are so poor, there are those who pursue the rights of incarcerated persons by calling for bigger prisons, newer prisons, cleaner prisons, more prisons! And then there is the global security sector, waiting in the wings, eager to build cages and profit. What is the defense against carceral expansion made in the timbre of human rights? 

This same month I received my copy of The Routledge International Handbook of Penal Abolition; I am honored to be among the contributors to this gorgeous book.

Re-reading my chapter, “Prison as a Colonial Relic: Anti-Prison Thought and Ghanaian History” was grounding, a reminder of usable histories all around.

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