Unless you have come to give your heart and mind, your coming will be your going. Here you must be the last to sleep, the last to keep, the last to eat, the first to die.
No Exceptions Prison Collective is a grassroots initiative in Nashville, TN, dedicated to transforming the social segregation of prison by advocating that no exceptions be made to the abolition of slavery. We were founded and are led by individuals directly impacted by carceral slavery – both insiders (prisoners) and free world folx.
What do we mean by “abolition of slavery”?
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation
We are abolitionists because we oppose and abhor all forms of human slavery and trafficking. We understand that the Thirteenth Amendment did not abolish slavery, rather, it carved out an exception for its continued existence. Today mass incarceration through the prison industrial complex (PIC) is the embodiment of slavery, and to the end of the elimination of mass incarceration and the PIC, we are abolitionists.
To be clear, we recognize that when harm occurs in a community it may be necessary to separate those whose immediate physical actions have resulted in harm to another. Social separation has its place. However, successful social separation should be as brief as possible and should result in the restoration of the individual to his or her community, and restitution for those harmed through a process of transformative justice. A retributive system of criminal justice is contrary to the common good and ensures the continued existence of slavery and systematic and institutional racism.
In light of numerous other countries with far superior models of restorative justice, the logical and damning conclusion is that the United States intentionally maintains a system of slavery in the interest of profit and the disenfranchisement of Black and Brown communities and the poor. The policies and procedures of state prison systems are intentionally obscure and contradictory and once inside the system individuals have almost no public voice and little to no control over their lives. Families of prisoners also have minimal control over the often arbitrary and retributive decisions visited upon the mind and body of a loved one. Like chattel enslavement of the past, families are destroyed and decisions to ship those who are carcerally enslaved are made with no consideration to the broader and long-term impact to the community. When humans are warehoused with no chance for restoration to their community, and are of more economic value locked down than free, that is slavery.
The only moral response to slavery is abolition.