Thursday, April 28, 2005

ICOPA XI International Conference on Penal Abolition

We are excited to announce that ICOPA X1, the eleventh International Conference on Penal Abolition will happen in Tasmania, Australia from February 9 - 11,2006. Please pass this onto all networks.

Previous conferences have happened in 1983 Toronto Canada, 1985 Amsterdam Netherlands, 1987 Montreal Canada, 1989 Poland, 1991 Indiana USA, 1993 Costa Rica, 1995 Spain, 1997 Auckland NZ, 2000 Toronto Canada, and 2002 Lagos, Nigeria.

Justice Action has accepted the responsibility to coordinate this conference, and will be working with others around the world to ensure that it is an historic, inclusive and accessible event. We want prisoner and exprisoner involvement to be a feature. Let those most affected be heard and let us share their future!

Each ICOPA asks these questions:

What is wrong?
What are we doing?
What can we do?

The agenda and the form of the conference is now open. Please email us proposals and pass to others this notice. Some suggestions for strands are:

* The Politics of Imprisonment

Northern Ireland, Palestine and the Middle East, (Post) Colonial Justice Nigeria and West Africa, South Africa: ANC, Brazil, USA, Canada.

* Contemporary Forms of Penal Custom

Human Rights & Imprisonment: a Global Perspective, International trends, Imprisonment of Women, Marginalisation and Political Dissent in the USA,
Refugee and Immigration Prisons, Prisons under Occupation.

* Post Carceral Resettlement

Organising Inside: Prisoners' resistance and the Outside Community, Writing and Art as Resistance, Barriers to Reintegration, Surveillance, Organising in the Community - Exprisoners' Organisations, Convict Criminology.

* Action Now

Proposals for the future.

We will be linking with the ANZSOC criminology conference happening from 7-9th of February 2006 in Tasmania. They haven't finalised the program yet, but do plan to have four plenary sessions around the theme of Human Rights:

'Prisoners and Human Rights'
'Refugees and Human Rights'
'State Crime and Human Rights'
'Terrorism, Racism and Human Rights'

Tasmania is an ideal place to discuss punishment. It used to be called Van Dieman's Land, and was the place where most of the original convicts were sent from England from 1788 until the 1850's. It was the ultimate as a penal colony, was almost entirely a prison, and changed its name to avoid the historic shame. It had penal settlements where convicts were tortured - all well documented. And the convict responses are very special learning experiences, still valid today.

Robert Hughes book "The Fatal Shore" ISBN 0 099 45915 9 is well worth the read.

From the Internet:

Transport cost from Sydney/Tasmania return Aus$220 USA/Syd ret Aus$1600


Justice Action
65 Bellevue St, Glebe, NSW 2037, Australia
P.O. Box 386, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia
voice: 612-9660 9111 fax: 612-9660 9100

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1983 - ICOPA 1, the First International Conference on Prison Abolition took place in Toronto, Canada. It was organized by grassroots prison rights activists, prison abolitionist academics, ex-prisoners, Quakers and interested community members. A resolution was passed to make ICOPA a bi-annual event.

1985 - ICOPA 11 was held in Amsterdam and was organized by mainly academics and European scholars.

1987 - ICOPA III was organized by a prison abolitionist group in Montreal, Canada. This conference marked a huge change in the abolitionist movement. Participants and conference organizers decided that a goal to abolish the prison was not sufficient. The real problem was the penal mindset which allowed the prison to exist; thus, to abolish the prison without abolishing the penal mentality and penal structure would only open us up to more oppression. As a result of this realization, the International Conference on Prison Abolition transformed to become the International Conference on Penal Abolition.

1989 - ICOPA IV was held in Poland during a time of political upheaval (iron curtain had not fallen yet) and great oppression. This conference was small but very successful in its showing of bravery and true human commitment to this movement.

1991 - ICOPA V was held in Indiana, USA. This conference focused on Native/Aboriginal Justice and racism in the American Justice System.

1993 - ICOPA VI was held in Costa Rica. This is considered to be among the most successful conferences because it included many scholars, activists, ex-prisoners and government officials who were taking the movement and its ideas seriously.

1995 - ICOPA VII was held in Spain. This conference was not very focused on abolition and thus received many complaints and criticisms from its participants

1997 - ICOPA VIII was held in Auckland, New Zealand. This conference was a good opportunity to learn about Maori Justice and Alternative Justice models based on Maori traditions.

2000 - ICOPA IX was held in Toronto, Canada. Returning to the city it was born in, this conference focused on Transformative Justice and the Corporate Agenda's role in Criminal Justice.

2002 - ICOPA X in Lagos, Nigeria. It was the first one in Africa. The theme: Transformative Justice and Practical Alternative to the Penal System..

ICOPA History

The Movement to Abolish Prisons is as old as prisons themselves. In the 19th century, voices like Thomas Buxton of the British Parliament and Victor Hugo of France condemned the prison system and retributive justice. In 1976 Gilbert Cantor, a former editor of the Philadelphia Bar magazine, wrote in that prestigious magazine: "If our entire criminal justice apparentus were simply closed down...there would probably be a decrease in the amount of behaviour now labeled 'criminal'. The time has come to abolish the game of crime and punishment, and to substitute a paradigm of resitutition and responsibility. The goal is the civilization of our treatment of offenders."

Justice Action - ICOPA

Justice Action is a community-based organisation of criminal justice activists. We are prisoners, academics, victims of crime, ex-prisoners.

Updated 11 April 2009

ICOPA X1: Listen! You Tube

The documentary addresses penal abolition as a concept and issues surrounding that policy. It presents the 11th International Conference on Penal Abolition held in Tasmania, Australia over the 9-11th February 2006.

By Justice Action 28 April 05


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