ActivismPoliticsRaceSolution Sessions

afropunk solution sessions ep. 7: in a box

July 18, 2018
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The United States of America is home to only five percent of the world’s population, but it has 25 percent of the world’s jailed people. And even though Black people make up only 12 percent of the adult population in the U.S., 33 percent of the American prison population is Black. This is nothing new—mass incarceration is a continuation of America’s legacy of putting Black folks into the box. As Michelle Alexander says in her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, “Slavery defined what it meant to be black (a slave), and Jim Crow defined what it meant to be black (a second-class citizen). Today mass incarceration defines the meaning of blackness in America: black people, especially black men, are criminals.”

It’s clear that not only is the prison system ineffective, but that it’s purposefully designed to keep Black people in cages. So what do we do? In the seventh episode of AFROPUNK SOLUTION SESSIONS, Bridget and Yves talk prison abolition with Paul Butler, a law professor at Georgetown University and author of the book Chokehold: Policing Black Men. Sean Saifa Wall, an intersex activist and creator of the documentary Letters to an Unborn Son, discusses how state violence and mass incarceration hit home for him; and Susan Burton, author of Becoming Ms. Burton, shares how her personal experience with imprisonment led to helping women with the difficult process of re-entry after incarceration.

We get into it:

  • The importance of keeping families together
  • How the criminal justice system’s goal isn’t really justice
  • The cycle of imprisonment
  • Why the prison system is ineffective and does not keep people safe
  • The necessity of abolishing the current prison system
  • How to focus on treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment


Featured in this episode:

Paul Butler

Law Professor + Author

Paul Butler is the author of the new best seller “Chokehold: Policing Black Men,” which The New York Times described as the best book on criminal justice since “The New Jim Crow.”


Susan Burton


Susan is widely recognized as a leader in the national criminal justice reform movement. She founded A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project (ANWOL) in 1998, dedicating her life to helping others break the cycle of incarceration.