Any Green New Deal Must Include “Decarceration” Or Something

Remember, the Green New Deal Is all about science, not politics

A Green New Deal for Decarceration

This June, after nearly two decades of organizing, local activist groups in eastern Kentucky stopped construction of a federal prison in Letcher County. In a powerful rebuke to Kentucky Congressman Hal “Prince of Pork” Rogers, the project to build the prison on a reclaimed mountaintop looks dead for good: Trump’s proposed 2020 budget rescinded $510 million previously approved for construction.

The news is a major victory — not just for the anti-prison activists who have fought for decades against the new facility, but also for the environmentalists who became their allies.

In fights against prison expansion, activists across the country are forging alliances on unexpected common ground: the struggle against ecological devastation. These campaigns’ lesson — that the fight against mass incarceration and for environmental justice are tightly interwoven, and require the same political coalitions — should inform the policies and principles of the Green New Deal movement.

Strange how they’re able to link the totally science issue of man-caused climate change with pretty much everything, eh?

The devastation wrought by blowing up mountaintops to extract buried fossil fuels parallels the community ruin caused by forcibly removing residents from their neighborhoods to be warehoused in massive, faraway, high-security institutions. Both cause enormous injury to humans and habitats alike. Neither offers long-term economic benefit, security, or safety to the communities in whose name these extractions are publicly justified.

These communities deserve better. Instead of prison-building as local development, they deserve real investment in living-wage jobs, social infrastructure for healthy living, and just solutions to ecological and social problems, from rampant inequality to the climate emergency.

If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. But, hey, they only do the crime because the world has warmed a minimal 1.5F in 170 years, and it’s because you drive a fossil fueled vehicle

In other words, they deserve a Green New Deal. And like the people housed inside the correctional institutions they are asked to embrace, what they really deserve is what we’re calling a Green New Deal for Decarceration.

A Green New Deal for Decarceration echoes Bernie Sanders’s sweeping criminal justice and Green New Deal plans, released over the past week. But in order to expand the climate justice and decarceration movements and build the coalitional power required to avoid both carceral and ecological catastrophe, we need to integrate these fights, and tell a clearer story about shared values, goals, and strategies. We need to get explicit about how the exploitation and racism underpinning climate change are also those that animate mass criminalization and mass incarceration.


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2 Responses to “Any Green New Deal Must Include “Decarceration” Or Something”

  1. If I chop the heads off a bunch of Greenpeacers because IMO their carbon footprint is excessive I don’t go to prison? Sign me up!

  2. Jl says:

    “Worried about ecological devastation”. Building prison-Bad. Cutting down trees for wind farm-Good.

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