Statement on the Prison Industrial Complex

AROC envisions a world that uses liberatory approaches, and seeks safety and accountability without relying on alienation, punishment, State or systemic violence including imprisonment and policing.

We do not believe that we should rely on police and other forms of law enforcement for safety and responses to harm. We know that this system is used to exercise state repression, and inhibit people of color and poor people’s self-determination. Rather than providing safety and a response to harm, this system is a cause of harm and insecurity for our communities. In the US we identify this system as the prison industrial complex (PIC) which includes, surveillance, policing, sentencing, and imprisonment. Similarly, these repressive state responses to social issues exist globally. Though the context, names, and details may differ, these manifestations of the PIC in other countries are connected to the US PIC in aim and, often, in practice.

This understanding compels us to integrate an analysis of the PIC, in the US as well as other countries, into our work and to fight against its impacts in our structure and organizational relationships, in our campaigns, projects, and services, and in our alliances, coalitions, and collaborations.

Specifically, in the current context:

  • We reject the surveillance and monitoring of our communities and the use of racist data collection in generating fear and criminalizing our people.  We oppose the use of those scare tactics in arresting and sentencing our communities which are already made vulnerable by racism, xenophobia, poverty, and immigration status.
  • We recognize that forces involved in attempting to “normalize” the Israeli occupation of Palestine are also at work attempting to normalize the use of the prison-industrial complex in the US for containing, repressing, and eliminating aspects of the communities in which Arab people and people of color live and work.
  • We reject imprisonment from the political imprisonment of Palestinians and other Arabs to the imprisonment of millions of poor people, people of color, and political dissidents in the United States.

We know that in order to establish powerful, liberated Arab communities, we cannot participate in language or actions that fuel or maintain the prison industrial complex.  We also know that one of the surest ways to reduce the harm caused by the prison industrial complex is to reduce our contact with it. AROC will, therefore, make every effort to strengthen our organization and community’s abilities to increase our shared health, stability, and wellbeing, while attempting to reduce the role and power the prison industrial complex has in our lives and work.