Why Jail Support Threatens The Logic Of The Criminal Legal System

hands grasping bars with a dove behind the bars
Zain Murdock
March 20, 2024

Knowing the state punishes us for resistance also means we can prepare ourselves ahead of time. And, throughout history and today, that’s what we've done. 

During protests, jail support volunteers collect the names, birth dates, emergency phone numbers, and medical conditions of activists risking arrest.

After the arrests, they track protesters through the system until they were free. That can include paying bail, notifying loved ones, documenting injuries, and giving rides home after release. It also includes emotional support to activists who might have been traumatized.

And whether incarcerated people have protested or not, jail support can mean camping out and rallying outside jails, insisting on making their presence known. 

For example, Chicago Community Jail Support volunteers have given snacks, bus passes, and warm clothes to the newly released. They’ve also called those still inside, placing their own phones against a microphone, so everyone can hear what the incarcerated people need.

Today’s technology makes crowdfunding for jail support resources easier. Many volunteers practice jail support remotely.

The very concept of jail support resists the forced separation between incarcerated and non-incarcerated people. While jails attempt to isolate people from their communities, jail support insists that our community ties will never break. 

It reminds us that we can practice an abolitionist future where we rely on each other to keep us safe.

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