Prisons, Policing, and Pollution: Toward an Abolition Framework within Environmental Justice

Authors: Ki'Amber Thompson*,
Topics: Qualitative Research, Environment, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Abolition, Environmental Justice, Sustainability, Toxicity, Black Geographies
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download

The Environmental Justice (EJ) movement has traditionally organized against toxics in communities, but within EJ work, prisons or policing have often not been centralized or discussed. Thus, the approximate 2.3 million people incarcerated are excluded from the conversation and movement. Additionally, communities and activists are identifying police and prisons as toxics in their communities, but an analysis of policing and prisons is largely missing in EJ scholarship. Based on interviews with formerly incarcerated individuals in San Antonio, Texas, and a case study of the Mira Loma Women’s Detention Center in Lancaster, California, this research expands the realm of EJ work to include and center the spaces of prisons and policing and complicates the definition of toxicity as it has been traditionally used in the EJ movement. I argue that policing and imprisonment are toxic systems to our communities and contradict and prevent the development of safe and sustainable communities. Thus, understanding prisons and policing as toxic to communities, we should move toward abolishing these toxic systems and building alternatives to them. To this end, or rather, to this new beginning, abolition should be explored as a framework within EJ to push us to better and differently approach the practice of making environmental justice available for all. Abolition is not only about dismantling, but is about building more just, safe, and sustainable communities.Embracing abolition as a framework within EJ could move us toward liberating our toxic carceral landscape, and imagining, and subsequently, creating new environmental and social landscapes.

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