Liberal fantasies of criminal justice have a singular cruelty to them. They are usually aware of a style of cruelty or violence, the death penalty, or prison rape, which is unacceptable to them, but this awareness only exists in order to excuse, justify and perpetuate other hideous acts. Take, what used to be a common argument against the death penalty, perhaps it is still made, that execution is too easy, that it represents an escape from the true punishment that a criminal deserves, that is, is a life of brutal confinement. The above notion is of exactly the same kind. Absolutely clear, in its liberal moralist tradition, that rape and physical violence are out of the question, Amadi is happy to dream up a nightmare version of the already tormenting solitary confinement system and is able to feel giddy at enforcing this for a century.
Solidarity with prisoners means understanding that their bodies are not a place to work out revenge on systems of abuse. It also means, questions of prison abolition aside, that if confinement and exclusion are the only safe course, you don’t fantasize about how cruel it is going to be, how ugly and tormenting it is, whether it’s rape or abuse or solitary confinement. Further, it means exactly not setting aside those questions of abolition. Refusing the stupid blackmail of how punishments “should” be enforced. Always pointing out that abuse and rape are an essential fact of American prisons, undeterred by the caveats in a tweet. And refusing to ignore, justify or support these publicly broadcast visions of pain.
There is no excuse for this shit, but liberal fantasists will always call on the pain of victims, both instrumentalising other people’s abuse and returning to the logic of their right-wing masters: one brutality deserves another.
The effects of solitary confinement are well-known, but deserve reiterating in light of this glib, violent rhetoric. While you’re there, if you have some spare money, give a bit to the people at Solitary Watch.
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