Over the last generation, the United States prison systems have grown at a rate unparalleled in history, creating what many call a Prison Industrial Complex. What happens to our legal system, our Constitution, our democracy when a substantial part of the population feel it in their economic self-interest to lock up more and more people for longer sentences? Which industries are a part of the Prison Industrial Complex? How are they profiting from prisons? And how are they using their power to affect criminal law and public opinion? How are people organizing to stop or slow prison growth? What is prison abolition?
To the extent that we think about these questions at all, it is because of the tireless work of Angela Davis. She has toured the country for the last decade speaking out against prison expansion, and she was the prime mover behind the 1997 conference Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex, which drew over 3,500 participants to Berkeley.
This 1997 talk from Boulder, Colorado offers a succinct yet compelling argument that the time to stop prison expansion is now. Angela Davis is a legendary speaker, known for the clarity and subtlety of her thought and the compelling passion of her delivery.