The Legacy Of Open-Air Prisons Is Not Humanity

gaza strip prison
Zain Murdock
November 13, 2023

The first open prison came in Switzerland in 1891. The U.S. in 1916. The concept has existed for longer. In India, since 1836. 

Open or open-air prisons “trust” incarcerated people to complete sentences with less supervision and usually no cells. They’re promoted as a humane way to offer incarcerated people more autonomy. But that isn’t the whole story.

“Open-air prison” also describes history’s colonial inhumanity. South Africa's U.S.-backed apartheid government restricted movement and voting rights and punished dissenters like Nelson Mandela. U.S. Jim Crow segregation enforced similar conditions.

Gaza, Palestine, is now the world’s largest open-air prison - the size of Detroit, with four times its population and limited food, water, and electricity.

Right now, Gaza is a site of genocide. The Israeli government has eradicated entire bloodlines, targeting residential homes, schools, and hospitals.

The U.S., a world leader in incarceration rates, consistently funds mass incarceration and policing and manufactures anti-Black copaganda here. 

It’s no coincidence that it also manufactures anti-Palestinian propaganda, funds open-air incarceration, and even targets Jewish Ethiopians. Not to mention, U.S. police train with the Israeli military.

The legacy of open-air prisons isn't humanity but carceral colonization. True humanity is liberation. 

And liberation is all marginalized people having freedom to movement, survival, and a life without fear of propaganda dehumanizing us and marking us worthy of genocide.

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