Written by: Sarah Nayeem
Abolition is a health care and mental health care issue. While schools and education have faced funding cuts over time without public outcry, police departments continue to receive significant disproportionate financial support despite strong evidence that their presence in communities improve safety or reduce crime.
It is widely available knowledge that police forces are a direct extension of 'slave patrols' historically, which were set in place to protect 'property' and to implement laws that maintain the racial order of white supremacy like immigration laws that arbitrarily target Black and brown immigrant communities. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander is an excellent resource on this topic. Data reveals that police departments harass and target the LGBTQ community and communities of color disproportionately and murder Black, Indigenous and Hispanic people at significantly higher rates than whites, especially Black trans women. Prison labor and mass incarceration are punishments and are therefore constitutionally sanctioned methods of continuing the United State's legacy of slave labor via the 13th amendment.
There has been a 500% increase in the prison population in the past 40 years. 2 million people are currently incarcerated according to data from US Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research, making the US #1 in the world for rate of incarceration per 100,000 people. According to data from the Legal Aid society, people of color made up 91% of all reported stop and frisks by the NYPD in 2020. The United States is the only nation that sentences people to life without parole for minors, The United States stands alone as the only nation that sentences people to life without parole for crimes committed before turning 18. before turning 18, according to The Sentencing Project. Police in schools target Black, indigenous and brown minors starting early to promote what is known as 'the school to prison pipeline' which offers little by way of support and healing and instead introduces youth from exploited communities to the legal system which is difficult and expensive to escape. 946 people have been killed by the Police in the past year- an overwhelming majority of the people who are shot are male an estimated 95% and more than half are young, aged 20-40y/o. Shootings have occurred in every state and Black people are killed disproportionately at higher rates they account for only 13% of the population but are killed at 2 times the rate of White people. Date show higher rates of Hispanic people killed by police also. 6329 people have been killed by police since January 2015. These statistics were all tracked by a Washington Post Database. According to the ACLU, "Out of the 10.3 million arrests made per year, only 5 percent are for the most serious offenses, including murder, rape, and aggravated assault. These are the ones that truly threaten public safety. The other 95 percent of arrests are for things like traffic violations, marijuana possession, unlawful assembly, and even removing a shopping cart from store premises." According to the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, "nearly half of trans people reported that they do not feel comfortable seeking help from police. 1 in 5 trans people who have had police contact reported that they have been harassed by police, include 38% of Black trans individuals. Six percent reported that police have physically assaulted them and 2% reported that police have sexually assaulted them. Assault rates were even higher for Black trans people, with 15% reporting physical abuse and 7% of them reporting sexual assault by police." Policing only protects property and implement laws which often oppress Black and Brown communities disproportionately by design. The ruling class has limited stakes in correcting a system where they are not profiled, harassed and murdered routinely without consequence. Entire generations of people are locked away out of sight, laboring without rights, fighting for their lives for 'crimes' that the rich are rewarded for like posession of marijuana or marijuana sales. Every Brown, Indigenous and Black person knows they're just one 'failed to use turn signal' or 'broken tail light' away from being shot in the street. Abolition is the minimum, it is the first step towards the liberation of all people from an unjust and cruel society. A brief glance into history makes it clear that 'laws' rarely reflect justice or morality and humanity is far more sacred than the property of a few. I am a healthcare worker who believes that Abolition is a health equity issue and human rights issue.