The Mid Hudson Valley DSA and its members support the project of decarceration, prison abolition and any efforts to reduce funding for the carceral system and policing in our communities.
We are proud to be a partner of the Decarcerate the Hudson Valley and stand firm in our resolve to advance the fight for racial justice and an end to the prison industrial complex. This coalition signals that New York is ready to bring abolition forwards now.
While we have seen real decarceral success in the Hudson Valley since 2019 – with a 36% reduction in the number of people jailed pretrial – mass incarceration continues to be a crisis. Each day, there are over 13,000 Hudson Valley residents languishing in county jails and state prisons.
New York is one of three states that prohibit private prisons. We support the next step of banning investment in private prisons and urge the NY State Assembly to support Brian Benjamin’s Senate Bill S5433A.
But standing against private prisons is not enough. Private prisons make up only 8.2 percent of the US prison population and simply closing private prisons is a cheap way to avoid addressing the need for structural change.
State and federal prisons also exploit prison labor. New York State paid prisoners 65 cents an hour to make hand sanitizer this year under state-owned brand Corcraft. We demand the abolition of all state-owned prison labor.
New York also houses thousands of prisoners in solitary confinement often for years, a practice the the UN defines as torture. Most sentences that lead to solitary confinement are for non-violent conduct and black people represent 57% of people held in solitary confinement. Young people, people with mental illness, and gender non-conforming people are disproportionately likely to be put in isolation.
Over one in five NY State prisons are over the age of fifty, a number that has risen while the overall prison population has fallen. We also stand in solidarity with RAPP in demanding that elderly prisoners, most of whom are Black and Latinx, be released on parole as they pose no threat to the public to live out their days with their families.
However, prison reform cannot address the structural inequalities and racist history of the carceral state. In the words of Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “we want a society that centers freedom and justice instead of profit and punishment.”
Local and county governments in the Hudson Valley spend over $856 million each year on the carceral system. This includes nearly $406 million on jails alone. This is a misuse of public funds and communities need a voice in that money can be redirected to support instead of destroy.
We support the abolitionist movement in proposing a dismantling of the systems of oppression and imagining a world free of cages. We stand in support of the Critical Resistance vision of a “genuinely healthy, stable communities that respond to harm without relying on imprisonment and punishment.”
The Hudson Valley and New York State can evolve into a community that rejects the carceral state in favor of support and care for our communities. We’re excited to work with Decarcerate the Hudson Valley towards the vision that a better world is possible.