On our 10th year of the annual Beyond the Bars Conference, we are excited to gather with a broad range of activists, organizers, practitioners, students, educators, faculty, impacted people and community members, to grapple with movement building strategies for challenging a carceral society. Decades of organizing and research have shown us that issues of incarceration and criminalization reach far beyond prisons, jails, police and the criminal legal system, and have created a society in which surveillance, criminalization, punishment, detention and incarceration have become a primary tool of governance and social control. Not just in the U.S., but increasingly internationally. We know that those at the margins, that include people of color, women, people who are undocumented, and people who are LGBTQ, are the most targeted, and their leadership is and has been central in our collective journey to a just society.
This year’s conference, Freedom Plans: Strategies for Challenging a Carceral Society (March 5-8, 2020) aims to explore the issue of strategies in challenging a carceral society. Our conference is now 10 years old, as is the book, The New Jim Crow. While our movement legacy extends far beyond the past decade, in the past 10 years the movement against mass incarceration has grown significantly. While at the same time, the total number of people in jails and prisons in the U.S. has decreased very little. The movement challenging prisons, jails and police is larger than ever, and yet detention of people who are undocumented has increased, criminalization of activism is on the rise, and people across the globe are likewise challenging policies and systems of inequality, including prisons and police. The growth of the movement has birthed many possibilities, as well as many challenges. Today, and throughout history, our movement has catalyzed exciting and powerful efforts to disrupt both the roots and the branches of incarceration and criminalization. It is our hope that Beyond the Bars 10 will be a generative space to surface and explore where the movement stands today, discuss a range of strategic issues, and further our freedom plans towards transforming the society in which we live.
We hope that Beyond the Bars 10 will contribute to our collective movement efforts in the following ways:
Learn from the strategies and experiences throughout the history of our own movement and that of others
Surface and examine critical issues that our movement is currently facing, including differences in visions and strategies, the ever growing size and diversity of people and organizations within the movement, liberatory reforms, abolition, and more.
Consider the role of electoral politics, the 2020 election, and people in positions of state power, in challenging a carceral society
Make visible the existing solidarity across movements and borders, and support new solidarities
Highlight and consider the role of particular movement efforts and strategies such as participatory defense, jail closure, transformative justice, reparative justice, reform oriented prosecutors, ending death by incarceration and more.