End the Prison Industrial Complex is a prison abolition group based in Kingston, Ontario.
Contact us by snail mail at:
Suite #409, 427 Princess Street
Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 5S9
Contact us by email at:
epic [at] riseup [dot] net
End the Prison Industrial Complex Statement of Unity
- Self-determination and autonomy
- Diversity of tactics
- Against oppression and domination (including the domination of the “natural” world)
EPIC does not believe that we need the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) to keep us safe, or that reforms can make the PIC just or effective. Contrary to the promises of politicians, prisons don’t achieve any of the things that make us feel safe. The recent prison expansions in Kingston alone—almost 400 beds—are the equivalent of a new stand-alone facility. Such diversion of public funds to prisons—and the policing and the court system that supports them—steals the resources needed to build healthy communities, ones in which people are assured access to homes, food, clean water, and land. Only when these essentials are assured can people begin to know, trust, and protect one another. The resources we need to secure these things are becoming scarcer and scarcer, while the resources to lock people up grow and grow.
Politicians use prison expansion and tough-on-crime legislation as an effective PR strategy to divert people’s attention from the economic, social, and environmental crises of the day. While politicians claim that prison expansion is an economic engine, it actually further criminalizes communities of colour, immigrants, queer folks, drug users, and poor people who become easy scapegoats for our social problems.
According to the government of Canada’s own data collection and research, rates of ‘violent crime’ have been decreasing for almost 20 years. Overall, the growing prison population cannot be attributed to a growth in this type of crime. Rather, new tough-on-crime laws mean that more and more activities now warrant incarceration. As a result, those in power are putting more people in prison for longer and under worse conditions. New legislation lengthens prison terms, makes parole more difficult, and reduces credit for time served. Drug laws have become more severe, the decriminalization of sex-work is under attack, people seeking asylum are increasingly criminalized, and those who resist face increased repression. Significantly, it is the threat of imprisonment that keeps people in line and prevents radicals from engaging in transformative social and political action.
EPIC is building a member-led and member-run grassroots movement to stop using punishment to “cure” complicated social problems. We call our vision “abolition” and take the name purposefully from those who called for the abolition of slavery in the 1800’s. Abolitionists from this era believed that slavery could not be fixed or reformed – it needed to be abolished. This is true of all the social and economic institutions that enforce the current social order, including capitalism and the state. Prison abolition only appeals to us as a tool for social revolution; ultimately we want to transform our relationships of domination including racism, classism, patriarchy, etc. into autonomous and egalitarian communities where we practice mutual aid and accountability.
Our vision is also rooted in a rejection of Canada’s claim to this land and its colonial relationship with Indigenous peoples. We seek a return to the principles of the Two-Row Wampum as a basis for settler-indigenous relations. The wampum records the meaning of the 1613 agreement, which sought to define peaceful coexistence between the Haudenosaunee and Dutch settlers. The pattern of the belt consists of two rows of purple wampum beads against a background of white beads. The purple beads signify the courses of two vessels – an Indigenous canoe and a European ship – traveling down the river of life together, parallel but never touching.