Robert Sember: “Alabama and the Struggle Against Mass Incarceration”

Starting in 2024, all FAITH+WORKS services will be on the second Sunday of the month. Join us on January 14th at 4PM as we welcome back Robert Sember. Our services continue to be both in person and on zoom. From Robert:

The highest incarceration rates in the world are found in the southern U.S. Prison conditions in this region are particularly deplorable with Alabama, for example, having the dubious distinction of being the only state in the U.S. to face two system-wide complaints by the Federal Department of Justice (the complaint lodged in December 2020 remains active). Drawing on my experiences as a prison educator in Alabama in 2022-2023, I reflect on how the national crisis of mass incarceration has made this state, once again, a critical site for anti-racist and anti-capitalist liberation struggles. My point is that Alabama, rather than being an exception, actually exemplifies the national norms that drive mass incarceration. Essential tools for this struggle, I argue, already exist in Alabama if we make the effort to learn the histories of local emancipation and labor struggles.

Photo caption: A sign reading “HELP” hangs in the window of a cell at Holman Correctional Facility, in Atmore, Alabama. Photograph by Kim Chandler / AP