The International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA)
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The International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA) is a bi-annual gathering of activists, academics, journalists, practitioners, people currently or formerly imprisoned, survivors of state and personal harm, and others from across the world who are working towards the abolition of imprisonment, the penal system, carceral controls and the prison industrial complex.

2016: ICOPA 16
Quito, Ecuador

2017: ICOPA 17
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, United States

2018: ICOPA 18
Liverpool, United Kingdom

Click here or the CONFERENCE tab for more details.

 

 

Website last updated April, 2, 2015 • Copyright ©2012 ActionICOPA • All rights reserved • Privacy Statement | Website Terms & Conditions |

 


About ICOPA
 

 
The International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA) is a bi-annual gathering of activists, academics, journalists, practitioners, people currently or formerly imprisoned, survivors of state and personal harm, and others from across the world who are working towards the abolition of imprisonment, the penal system, carceral controls and and the prison industrial complex (PIC). 

At these meetings, discussions amongst participants often focus around the following questions:

  • What is to be abolished?
  • How is abolition to be achieved?
  • What alternative relations will emerge in post-prison, post-carceral futures?

In the spirit of the politics of abolition, this website is 'unfinished' and the content will change as abolitionist thought and action evolves.

The Founding of ICOPA

With different groups engaged in prison abolitionist struggles across the world in the 1960s, 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, most notably in Europe and North America, the Quaker Committee on Jails and Justice in Canada determined that there was a need to establish an international forum where the politics and practices of prison abolitionism could be discussed. With the initiative of many and the efforts of conference founder Ruth Morris, the planning for the first International Conference on Prison Abolition began in 1982. A year later, the first ICOPA was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

For more on the history of ICOPA and the targets of abolitionism read:

Targets of Abolitionism

The Prison

At ICOPA I (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), it was resolved that the prison system is both a cause and a result of violence and social injustice. Throughout history, the majority of prisoners have been the powerless and oppressed. We are increasingly clear that the imprisonment of human beings, like their enslavement, is inherently immoral, and is as destructive to the cagers as to the caged. It is with this in mind that delegates called for alternatives to imprisonment. 

The Penal System

At ICOPA II (Amsterdam, Netherlands), it was widely acknowledged that the introduction of alternatives often did not reduce the use of imprisonment where they had been implemented and had extended the reach of the penal system in the community. This being the case, delegates agreed that ICOPA be changed from the International Conference on Prison Abolition to the International Conference on Penal Abolition. Participants also called for alternatives not only to imprisonment, but also to the penal system itself ? what is sometimes also called the prison industrial complex ? composed of policing, the courts, imprisonment and agencies responsible for community supervision such as probation and parole.

The Carceral

At various ICOPA meetings, the continued expansion of imprisonment and the penal system, as well as the rapid expansion of carceral practices including surveillance and carceral spaces such as immigration detention centres, have been the subject of abolitionist thought and action. These issues were the primary focus of the Colloquium on the Universal Carceral held at ICOPA XII (London, England) and continue to be an important part of the agenda of the conference. 

Why Abolition?

Research and experience has shown that imprisonment, the penal system, carceral controls and the prison industrial complex are used to suppress marginalized groups who are disproportionally targeted by these systems. Targeted groups include the poor, ethnic and racialized minorities, women and transgendered communities, communities of prohibited substance users and people defined as mentally ill.

The penal system and what is generated by it are seen as a cure-all tasked with addressing complex social conflicts and harms in our communities that have been designated as 'crimes'. Seen in this light, responses and solutions to these issues are taken up by the state in a way that systematically erodes the ability of people impacted by them to have meaningful input in the process and outcomes of their personal affairs.

From the first moment an act (such as consuming an 'illicit' drug) or status (such as not having legal documentation of citizenship) is criminalized, an enormous industry emerges of people profiting from that criminalization. That profit extends through the public, private and 'non-profit' sectors and benefits from the security services, surveillance, policing, judicial proceedings, imprisonment and community supervision. Because the institutions and practices that form the prison industrial complex have a vested interest in the continued expansion of the penal system and other repressive tools they represent a substantial barrier to a world without prisons and carceral controls.

Prison, penal, carceral and PIC abolitionists are working towards building a society concerned with generating solidarity instead of criminalizing difference, building community instead of othering, and promoting self determination instead of authoritarian forms of repression.

Mission of ICOPA

  1. Motivate the abolitionist community while increasing solidarity;

  2. Provide a forum for the flow and exchange of ideas advancing abolitionist goals;

  3. Contribute to the public sensitization and education on abolitionist issues;

  4. Addressing questions of viable alternatives to the prison industrial complex.

  5. Acknowledge and involve those most affected by penal policies, people inside and those connected to them.

 

 

Copyright ©2012 ActionICOPA. All image and reproduction rights reserved | Privacy Statement | Website Terms & Conditions |

 

Get Informed

To learn more about prison, penal and carceral abolitionism, check-out the videos, audio commentary and literature linked from this site.

  • Campaigns
  • Speakers
  • Videos
  • Audio
  • Literature

 

Learn more about some of the campaigns and organizations that have participated at ICOPA meetings over the years.

  Email info@actionaicopa.org to suggest campaigns related to prison, penal or carceral abolition to be posted on the ICOPA website

 

 

 

Invite a speaker in your country to talk about building community and democracy, as well as abolishing prisons, the penal system and carceral controls.

  E-mail info@actionicopa.org to volunteer to be or suggest an ICOPA speaker

 


  Presentations from ICOPA 13
  Visions of Abolition: From Critical Resistance to a New Way of Life
  E-mail info@actionicopa.org to suggest videos related to prison, penal or carceral abolition to be posted on the ICOPA website

 

 

  "No More Prisons" by Hurricane G
  "The 'Other' is We" by Justin Piché
  E-mail info@actionicopa.org to suggest audio files related to prison, penal or carceral abolition to be posted on the ICOPA website

 

 

  4strugglemag
  Abu-Jamal, Mumia [edited by Noelle Hanrahan] (2000) All Things Censored, New York: Seven Stories Press.
  Bianchi, Herman and René van Swaaningen (eds.) (1985) Abolitionism: Towards a Non-repressive Approach to Crime, Amsterdam: Free University Press.
  Bissonette, Jamie (2008) When the Prisoners Ran Walpole, Cambridge (MA): South End Press.
  Carlen, Pat (1990) Alternatives to Women's Imprisonment, Milton Keynes (UK): Open University Press.
  Carlton, Bree (2007) Imprisoning Resistance: Life and Death in an Australian Supermax, Sydney: Institute of Criminology Press.
  Chevigny, Bell (ed.) (1999) Doing Time: 25 Years of Prison Writing, New York: Arcade Publishing.
  Christie, Nils (2000) Crime Control as Industry, New York: Routledge.
  Cohen, Stanley (1985) Visions of Social Control, Cambridge (MA): Polity Press.
  Contemporary Crises [Volume 10, Number 1] (1986) Crime, Law and Social Change, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
  Contemporary Justice Review
  Criminal Justice Matters [Volume 77] (2009) Exploring Penal Reform.
  Critical Perspectives at Critical Criminology Information and Resources
  Critical Resistance - Resources
  Critical Resistance Publications Collective (eds.) (2008) Abolition Now! Ten Years of Strategy and Struggle Against the Prison Industrial Complex, Oakland: AK Press.
  Culhane, Claire (1991) No Longer Barred from Prison: Social Injustice in Canada, Montreal: Black Rose Books.
  Culhane, Claire (1985) Still Barred from Prison: Social Injustice in Canada, Montreal: Black Rose Books.
  Culhane, Claire (1979) Barred from Prison, Vancouver: Pulp Press.
  Davis, Angela Y. (2003) Are Prisons Obsolete?, New York: Seven Stories Press.
  Davis, Angela Y. and Eduardo Mendieta (2005) Abolition Democracy: Beyond Prison, Torture and Empire, New York: Seven Stories Press.
  de Haan, Willem (1990) The Politics of Redress: Crime, Punishment, and Penal Abolition, London: Unwin Hyman
  Elias, Robert (1993) Victims Still: The Political Manipulation of Crime Victims, London: Sage.
  Elliott, Elizabeth M. (2011) Security with Care: Restorative Justice & Healthy Societies, Black Point (NS): Fernwood.
  Gaucher, Bob (ed.) (2002) Writing as Resistance: The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons Anthology (1988-2002), Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press.
  Gilmore, Ruth W. (2007) Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, and Opposition in Globalizing California, Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  Herivel, Tara and Paul Wright (eds.) (2009) Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration, New York: The New Press.
  Herivel, Tara and Paul Wright (eds.) (2003) Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor, New York: Routledge.
  Hudson, Joe and Burt Galaway (eds.) (1975) Restitution in Criminal Justice: A Critical Assessment of Sanctions, Toronto: Lexington Books.
  INCITE! Women of Colour Against Violence - Resources for Organizing
  INCITE! Women of Colour Against Violence (eds.) (2007) The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, Cambridge (MA): South End Press.
  Jackson, George (1994) Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, Chicago: Chicago Review Press.
  James, Joy (ed.) (2007) Warfare in the American Homeland: Policing and Prison in a Penal Democracy, Durham (NC): Duke University Press.
  James, Joy (ed.) (2003) Imprisoned Intellectuals: America's Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion, Lanham (MD): Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  Journal of Prisoners on Prisons
  Journal of Social Justice
  Just Blog :: A Rittenhouse production
  Knopp, Fay Honey (coordinator) (1976) Instead of Prisons: A Handbook for Abolitionists, Syracuse: Prison Research Education Action Project.
  Magnani, Laura and Harmon L. Wray (2006) Beyond Prisons: A New Interfaith Paradigm for Our Failed Prison System, Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
  Mathiesen, Thomas (2006) Prison on Trial, Winchester (UK): Waterside Press.
  Mathiesen, Thomas (2004) Silently Silenced: Essays on the Creation of Acquiescence in Modern Society, Winchester (UK): Waterside Press.
  Mathiesen, Thomas (1980) Law, Society and Political Action: Towards a Strategy under Late Capitalism, New York: Academic Press.
  Mathiesen, Thomas (1974) The Politics of Abolition, London: Martin Robertson.
  Mauer, Marc (2006) Race to Incarcerate, New York: The New Press.
  Mauer, Marc and Meda Chesney-Lind (eds.) (2002) Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment, New York: The New Press.
  Morris, Ruth (2000) Stories of Transformative Justice, Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press.
  Morris, Ruth (1995) Penal Abolition, The Practical Choice: A Practical Manual on Penal Abolition, Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press.
  Morris, Ruth (1989) Crumbling Walls: Why Prisons Fail, Toronto: Mosaic Press.
  Morris, Ruth and Ruth Bradley-St-Cyr (2005) Transcending Trauma, Embrun (ON): Winding Trail Press.
  Nagel, Mecke (2007) "The Role of Prisons in a Socialist Future or: The Incorrigible Ethos of Incarceration", in Anton and Schmitt (eds.) The Future of Socialism, Lexington Books, pp. 325-345.
  Nagel, Mecke (2003) "Prison Intellectuals and the Struggle for Abolition", in T. Dickinson (ed.) Community and the World: Participating in Social Change, Nova Science, pp. 165-175.
  Netherlands Criminal Justice Investigative Seminar Participants (1978) How Holland Supports Its Low Incarceration Rate: Lessons for Us.
  Parenti, Christian (1999) Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis, New York: New Left Books.
  Pepinsky, Hal (2006) Peacemaking: Reflections of a Radical Criminologist, Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.
  Pepinsky, Hal and Richard Quinney (eds.) (1991) Criminology as Peacemaking, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  Prison Activist Resource Center
  PRISONJUSTICE.CA
  Quakers Committee of Jails and Justice (Canada) Resources
  Radical Teacher #88 [also see #91] (2010) Radical Teaching Against the Prison Industrial Complex, Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
  Reiman, Jeffrey and Paul Leighton (2009) The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Ideology, Class, and Criminal Justice, Toronto: Allyn & Bacon.
  Rodriguez, Dylan (2006) Forced Passages: Imprisoned Radical Intellectuals, and the U.S. Prison Regime, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  Ruggiero, Vincenzo (2010) Penal Abolitionism, New York: Oxford University Press.
  Ryan, Mick (2003) Penal Policy and Political Culture in England and Wales, Winchester (UK): Waterside Press.
  Ryan, Mick (1978) Radical Alternatives to Prison and the Penal Lobby, Praeger.
  Saleh-Hanna, Viviane (2008) Colonial Systems of Control: Criminal Justice in Nigeria, Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.
  Scraton, Phil and Jude McCulloch (eds.) The Violence of Incarceration, London: Routledge.
  Sim, Joe (2009) Punishment and Prisons: Power and the Carceral State, London: Sage.
  Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict & World Order
  Solinger, Rickie et al. (eds.) (2010) Interrupted Life: Experiences of Incarcerated Women in the United States, Berkeley: University of Ca
  Sudbury, Julia (ed.) Global Lockdown: Race, Gender, and the Prison-Industrial Complex, New York: Routledge.
  Sullivan, Dennis and Larry Tifft (2005) Restorative Justice: Healing the Foundations of Our Everyday Lives, St. Louis (MO): Willow Tree Press.
  The Abolitionist: A Publication of Critical Resistance
  The Business of Detention
  The Penal Press
  The Real Cost of Prisons Project
  The Redwood Highway
  The Sentencing Project
  Transformative Justice Journal: Breaking the Chains of Oppression and Punishment
  West, W. Gordon and Ruth Morris (eds.) (2000) The Case for Penal Abolition, Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press.
  Zehr, Howard (1990) Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice, Waterloo: Herald Press.
  E-mail info@actionicopa.org to suggest literature related to prison, penal or carceral abolition to be posted on the ICOPA website

 

 

 

Past Conferences

To view past conferences, the abstracts, resolutions, literature, video/audio for each of the conferences, click on the header tab.

 


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ICOPA 16 (2016) – Impacts of Prison and Penal Policies in a Global Context: Experiences of Resistance and Discussions on Abolitionism from Latin America

ICOPA 13 (2010) – Belfast, Northern Ireland - Abolition, Reform and the Politics of Global Incarceration

ICOPA 11 (2006) – Tasmania, Australia - Listen

ICOPA 10 (2002) – Lagos, Nigeria

ICOPA 9 (2000) – Toronto, Canada - Transformative Justice: New Questions, New Answers

ICOPA 8 (1997) – Aotearoa, New Zealand - Pathways to Penal Abolition

  ICOPA VIII Conference Pamphlet
  ICOPA VIII Conference Programme (cut off)
  ICOPA VIII Papers
  Mailing List Offers from Rittenhouse
  E-mail info@actionicopa.org to suggest any materials related to ICOPA 8 to be posted on this website

ICOPA 7 (1995) – Barcelona, Spain - Penal Abolition, A Real Utopia

ICOPA 6 (1993) – San Jose, Costa Rica - Challenging Third World Governments to Adopt Abolitionist Steps

  ICOPA VI - Conference Overview
  E-mail info@actionicopa.org to suggest any materials related to ICOPA 6 to be posted on this website

ICOPA 5 (1991) – Bloomington, Indiana, United States - Aboriginal Roots and Radical Empowerment

  Report on the Fifth International Conference on Penal Abolition compiled by Hal Pepinsky
  E-mail info@actionicopa.org to suggest any materials related to ICOPA 5 to be posted on this website

ICOPA 4 (1989) – Kazimierz, Poland - Abolitionism in Eastern Europe

  E-mail info@actionicopa.org to suggest any materials related to ICOPA 4 to be posted on this website

ICOPA 1 (1983) – Toronto, Canada - How to Include All the Most Difficult Groups in the Community

  ICOPA I Program
  E-mail info@actionicopa.org to suggest any materials related to ICOPA 1 to be posted on this website


 

 

 

Copyright ©2012 ActionICOPA. All image and reproduction rights reserved | Privacy Statement | Website Terms & Conditions |

We are pleased to announce the host sites for the ICOPA conferences below.  


Nos complace anunciar los lugares de acogida para las conferencias ICOPA.


2016
ICOPA 16
Quito, Ecuador
Contact / Contacto: Mirka Pozas (mirkapr@hotmail.com)

Download the call for papers in English
Descargar la convocatoria en español

2017
ICOPA 17
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, United States
Contact / Contacto: Viviane Saleh-Hanna (vhanna@umassd.edu)

2018
ICOPA 18
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Contact / Contacto: David Scott (D.G.Scott@ljmu.ac.uk)

Please come back for more details on these conferences in the months ahead and direct any questions related to ICOPA 16, 17 and 18 to the contacts noted above. 


Por favor, vuelve para más detalles sobre estas conferencias en los próximos meses y dirígete si tienes dudas relacionadas con ICOPA 16, 17 y 18 a los contactos mencionados arriba.

FOLLOW ICOPA / SIGNENOS ICOPA

Like us on / Signenos en Facebook  
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Social media hashtag / Hashtag en social media: #icopa

Copyright ©2012 ActionICOPA. All image and reproduction rights reserved | Privacy Statement | Website Terms & Conditions |

 

Donations

As a non-profit entity, the International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA) seeks donations to help send delegates from across the world with limited incomes, current or past involvement with criminalization and punishment, and from developing country's to its bi-annual conferences. ICOPA also seeks donations to help maintain this website.

All funds donated through this website are collected and managed by the International Foundation for a Prisonless Society (IFPS) – an entity established by ICOPA founder Ruth Morris – to support the activities of the conference-movement. We appreciate any monetary support to ensure those who participate in abolitionist organizing have a forum through which they can share their experiences with like-minded individuals from across the world.

Please note that the IFPS is not a registered charity and does not issue charitable receipts. Also note that any registration fees are to be paid directly to the local conference organizers and not to the IFPS.

You can show your support for ICOPA by making a donation in either one of two ways: 1) donate online and 2) donate by cheque.

Donate Online
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You also have the option to make a donation subscription [consecutive monthly payments]. Simply click on the “Subscribe” button and follow the directions. Of course should you wish to unsubscribe, you may do so at anytime by revisiting this page, selecting the “unsubscribe” button (at the bottom of this page) and following the instructions.

Please note, that if you do not have a PayPal® account you will be asked to set one up.

 

 

Select from one of the options below:

 

 

Donate by cheque
Make the cheque payable to the “International Foundation for a Prisonless Society”. Please be sure to include the standard postage and address the envelope to:

International Foundation for a Prisonless Society
c/o Ray Morris
281, 8 Street North East
Salmon Arm, British Columbia
Canada V1E 1G9

 

Copyright ©2012 ActionICOPA. All image and reproduction rights reserved | Privacy Statement | Website Terms & Conditions |

 

 

 

Contact

If you have questions regarding future ICOPA conferences, please get in touch with the contacts below.

2016
ICOPA 16
Quito, Ecuador
Contact: Mirka Pozas (mirkapr@hotmail.com)

2017
ICOPA 17
Dartmouth and New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States
Contact: Viviane Saleh-Hanna (vhanna@umassd.edu)

2018
ICOPA 18
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Contact: David Scott (D.G.Scott@ljmu.ac.uk)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Website last updated April, 2, 2015 • Copyright ©2012 ActionICOPA • All rights reserved • Privacy Statement | Website Terms & Conditions |

 

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