Workshop Number: 13
Leaders: Lewis Webb
Who May Register?: Open to All
Experiential Activities: 35%
Who May Attend?
part-time attenders welcome (can come any session)
half gathering attenders welcome
Half-Gathering Attenders Welcome:
First half (Monday-Wednesday)
Second half (Wednesday/Thursday-Friday)
Healing Justice work of the AFSC is guided by an internal and external “north star” that illuminates our path to abolition of the racist punishment state by shining light on opportunities for healing and restoration. We will share our journey and invite participants to meet us along the path.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is committed to building societies rooted in sustainable peace, human rights, dignity, transformation, and healing. Imprisonment, policing, and surveillance move us farther away from the world we want. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world but still has extremely high rates of gun violence, sexual assault, and other forms of harm. This country cages two million people—disproportionately people of color and poor people—while doing little to stop harm or help survivors of violence and communities heal. The punishment paradigm does not create safe, healthy communities.
In 1978, the AFSC Board approved a minute that confirmed AFSC’s commitment to prison abolition, which read in part “The American Friends Service Committee rejects imprisonment as punishment for those whose behavior may be considered criminal. …This stand is based on our belief in the dignity of all human beings.” It is this belief that is the guiding principle of our work.
Today, we expand our abolitionist vision beyond physical prisons and jails to the entire punishment paradigm. We seek to dismantle the beliefs, systems, and institutions that rely on criminalization and retribution as a response to social problems and as tools for social control and state violence. This includes prisons, jails, and detention centers, but also state supervision and surveillance, guards and police, militarization, and criminalization, policing in schools, and suppression of political dissent.
This is our “North Star” illuminating the path of all our Healing Justice work in the U.S., highlighting the guideposts of change, and making clear the obstacles that block our way.
In our workshop, we will explore these guideposts of change through worship, discussion, and roleplay. We will share personal reflections, consider individual and collective visions, and explore pathways to just and sustainable peace. We look forward to leaving the workshop with a good understanding of what healing, restoration and accountability look like in a world without the punishment and other harm-generating systems. We will develop tools to use in our communities to build systems that honor the light in all of us and enable us to work through conflict with a goal towards true community wellbeing.
We will start each session with worship around a query or two. We will then explore one or two of the following guideposts through an anti-racism lens:
- Transformative justice: Communities respond to harm and conflict with methods of accountability and healing that do not rely on policing, surveillance, prosecutions, prisons, and jails.
- Public health and community reinvestment: Public health modalities focused on prevention and treatment are prioritized over the failed “wars on drugs” and the criminalization of mental health and disability. Resources are directed towards health and wellness, education, employment, housing, food access, and environmental protections.
- Community-based reentry: Those returning from incarceration are welcomed back to their communities and given the resources they need to succeed. Collateral consequences of criminal convictions are eliminated.
- Decarceration: Policy changes lead to fewer people in carceral systems; a dramatic decrease in the amount of time people spend in prisons, jails, and detention centers; and fewer people returned to incarceration after being released. Racial disparities in incarceration are eliminated and the carceral state is shrinking.
- End criminalization and surveillance: Federal, state, and local policies that target, criminalize, militarize, and surveil entire communities because of age, race, or religion, and harness the power of the state to limit dissent are dismantled.
- End prison profiteering: Private prisons and detention facilities are abolished. Institutions and individuals divest from corporations profiting off the prison industry, including those involved in “rehabilitation programs,” food services, health care, and reentry services.
- Replace policing with community-centered safety: Communities are safe because we have collectively invested in the resources and tools that all communities need to thrive, and we have divested from police and other law enforcement.
As we explore these calls for change, we will look at the impacts of the injustices on Black people and other communities of color, learn about advocacy efforts led by impacted communities and identify entry points for Quakers and other allies.
This will be accomplished utilizing worship, discussion, and roleplay.
Participants will be asked to do internal reflections, community assessments and capacity measurements as we individually and collectively see to punishment paradigms to healing modalities.
I have over 25 years experience leading groups in interactive workshops, including at least three for the Gathering over the years. I have served as a high school teacher, college professor and led advocacy training for adults and teens for many years.