Why are we against prisons, all prisons?

This text has been translated from Italian. It has been written in Autumn 2005 by anarchists between Trento and Rovereto, who tried to open a communication between themselves and the people visiting their loved ones in prison, by distributing books for free and also with other informative material.

We say simple things, because we are simple spirits.
The thoughts, the desires, the dreams we try to express, belong to humanity since the dawn of its’ very appearing.
An endless row of legislators, politicians, experts, intellectuals and other supporters of authorised ideas managed to cunningly complicate the questions, in order to make men and women feel stupid and inferior, people who always referred to the only book where one can find some answers: the one of lived experience.

They tell us, prison would be the necessary place needed in order to punish the ones, who infringe society’s laws.
Now, the very concept of “rule” presupposes that there would be a free agreement upon society’s basis, an entirety of norms freely shared by all the ones who compose this society.
Is this really the case?
Do the goverments really represent the will of the governed ones? Is the poor taking in good faith the fact that the rich feathers his nest through the jobs of the poor? Would the thief keep on stealing, even though he would have inherited a factory from his father or might live of life annuity?
In reality, when we take a look on how this society works, we can only decide how we behave towards laws decided for us by others and towards a government which imposed them upon the vast majority of men and women.
Therefore, before we ask ourselves if it is right to punish with prison the ones who infringed laws, we should better ask: who really take decisions – and how – about society’s rules?

They tell us, prison would protect us from violence.
Is it really the case?
Then, why are the most horrible acts of violence – we think about wars or famine imposed upon millions of people – perfectly legal?
Why is somebody going to prison if he/she kills because of jealousy, but in the case that one bombs an entire population, either he/she makes a career of it or is even going to be described as “hero”?
Prison punishes only the violence which either bothers the rich and the State, or it is convenient to present as abominable (as example like rapes or some crimes which are particularly detestable).
However, society’s structural violence is daily defended by prison.
How many are the companies which daily break the laws? How many the bosses who land in prison?
And, in regards to the so-called abominable crimes, don’t you see it as indicative that the ones who produce fake money will be punished harder than the ones who rape somebody?
But this does not have to appear strange: law has to protect private property, not people’s wealth.
They tell us, law is equal for all.
However, in prison are sitting almost only women and men with a low instruction degree, refugees, sons and daughters of workers, most of them because of crimes against the patrimony, i.e. in relation to acts deeply linked to the society where we are living in, to the necessity which moves it, from dawn until sunset: the one to have to find money.
Not even mentioning the fact that many prisoners would be already outside (or would gain access to the so-called alternative punishments) in the case they would have just the necessary money in order to pay a decent lawyer.

They tell us, prison helps in reedeming oneself or reintegrate within society.
But the majority of prisoners is composed by recidivists, since as soon as they will be on the outside again, they will find the same conditions – if not worse – left before being send down.
Moreover, if there is a way to prevent one in reflecting on his/her own acts, that is exactly to submit the latters to an accountability worthy of a wild animal: x crimes, x years.
Independently from the committed crimes, at the end of his/her punishment (“paying his/her debt”) why he/she should not be able to feel in order? In the case that he/she is convinced by his/her actions (as example if he/she is a rebel or a conscious robber), he/she will merely feel hate against a society which, even though is further more criminal than he/she is, locked him/her down.
Why is it considered uplifting to remain separated for years from people alike or not having the possibility to do something exciting, sentenced to let time pass by, educated to repeat for the social assistant or psychologist, used to always subjugate themselves under the superiors?
At the end, we ask ourselves: is this society so much more virtuous, a bestower of such higher values and egalitarian relationships that it can suggest one, to integrate within?

They tell us that, even if prison is not able to reedem people, at least it is able to scare them.
If so, why more and more people become prisoners? Why the tendency towards a criminalization of behavior that keeps on getting higher?
It is clearly about a big social program: sweep away the poor from the streets, while investing in the big business of detention (how many are the companies which profit from construction contracts, maintenance, furnitures and so on?).
In the United States, beacon of penal society, even though crimes diminish, there are still more prisoners than peasants.
Is that really the street we aim to walk along?

We are against prison, because it is born and developed in order to defend the privileges of the rich and the power of the State.
We are against prison, because a society based no longer upon money and profit, but on freedom and solidarity, would not need it.
We are against prison, because we aim towards a world where rules will be really going to be decided in common.
We are against prison, because even the most heinous crime tells us something about ourselves, our fears, our weaknesses, and it brings nothing to keep it hidden behind the walls.
We are against prison, because the biggest criminals are the ones, who hold its keys.
We are against prison, because nothing good can grow out of coercion and subjugation.
We are against prison, because we aim to radically transform this society (therefore infringing its laws), not to peacefully integrate within its cities, its factories, its barracks, its supermarkets.
We are against prison, because the noise of the key in the cell’s lock represent a daily torture, isolation is an abomination, the end of the visiting hour is suffering, locked-down Time a hourglass which kills slowly.
We are against prison, because the screw’s corps remain always a closed one, ready to protect every abuse or violence, dehumanized by the habit to obey and delation.
We are against prison, because it took us away too many days, months, years, or simply too many friends, unknown ones and comrades.
We are against prison, because the ones we met there inside are neither better, nor worse of the ones who cross our existence on the outside. (Often, thinking longer about it, better).
We are against prison, because the news of an escape warms up our heart more than the first day of the spring.
We are against prison, because when we look at the world through the hole in the doorlock, it seems to us as it would be populated only by perfidious or dubious beings.
We are against prison, because the sense of rightness is never to be found within a code.
We are against prison, because a society which needs to lock down and humiliate is already a prison.