Penal Abolition

Release Issues

The Extra Bit

‘The Extra Bit’ Report aims to shed light upon the lack of individual empowerment afforded to mental health consumers. It is crucial that consumers are encouraged to adopt an active role in their own treatment.

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ICOPA XIII Belfast 2010

ICOPA 13 (23-25 June 2010) 
Abolition, Reform and the Politics of Global Incarceration (Queen's University, Belfast)

21-22 June Irish Criminology Conference

23-25 June ICOPA 13

26 June Day Trip for those still around!


The 13th International Conference on Penal Abolition will be held in Belfast at a defining moment regarding the devolution of Policing and Justice to the recently constituted Northern Ireland Assembly. A decade on from the release of political prisoners under the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, Northern Ireland’s prisons are under continuing criticism. We invite international papers, art, film, policy proposals, reports and posters on any aspect of the generic theme from researchers, activists, prisoners and former prisoners on penal abolition at a time dominated by reformist discourses about ‘healthy prisons’ alongside global expansion of incarceration in prisons, special hospitals and other places of detention. Individuals and groups can offer sessions/ panels in diverse formats. Current and former prisoners unable to attend, please contact us to enable presentations by proxy.

The Conference will be held at the University and in the community. We will provide a range of options for people to book directly with local hotels and hostels and endeavour to accommodate former prisoners.

ICOPA 13 will also acknowledge the life and work of Louk Hulsman who died in 2009:

“Abolition of criminal justice is that you abolish that in yourself, in the same way we are doing with racism and in the same way we are doing that with gender differences …You abolish criminal justice in yourself … Abolishing means that you will not anymore talk that language. And if you do not talk that language anymore then you see other things.”


Submission of Abstracts

Deaglan Coyle
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
0044 28 9097 3472

Please circulate this Call for Papers. Please note that the Irish Criminology Conference will be also in Belfast on the two days before ICOPA 13

Professor Phil Scraton PhD

Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Queen's University




UK Article - Alternatives to Punishment Being Ignored

Blair defends ministers' prisons advice

Hélène Mulholland and agencies
Wednesday January 24, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Tony Blair insisted today that a letter sent to judges by senior ministers urging them to find alternative punishments to prison was "simply reminding the courts of existing sentencing policy".

The prime minister was forced on the defensive by David Cameron after the government urged judges and magistrates to jail only the most dangerous and persistent criminals in a bid to ease prison overcrowding.

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JA Publications on DNA Testing

Click the links below to download JA publictions:

Big Brother - Life Imitating Art

Consent by Coercion

Crimes (Forensic Procedures) Bill 2000 Amended Proposals.doc

Crimes Amendment (Forensic Procedures) - Senate Meeting

DNA and Criminal Justice

DNA Testing - Prisoners Fight Back

DNA Testing and Indigenous Australians

DNA Testing and NSW Prisoners

Forensic Procedures Legislation Alert

JA Articles and Papers on DNA Testing - Introduction.doc

JA's Supplementary Submission

Justice Actions Submission to Standing Committee

Legally Scientific?

Proposed Amendments to Crimes (Forensics Procedures) Bill

Submission to the Senate

The Brave New World of Big Brother Bob

When Government Grabs Your Genes

Corey Brough

Short Statement Summarising the Corey Brough Case:
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has ruled that Corey Brough, an adolescent Aboriginal man with a mild intellectual disability, has been the victim of human rights violations at the hand of the New South Wales prison officials whilst being detained at Parklea Correctional Centre in Sydney. The Australian government, a signatory to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has refused to acknowledge the Committee’s decision and are currently ignoring calls for an effective remedy for this vulnerable individual.

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Treatment, Not Prison, for Mentally Ill

Australian Medical Association
18 Sep 2006

Imprisonment should be the last resort for people with mental health problems, AMA (Australian Medical Association) President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, said today.

In an editorial in the latest Medical Journal of Australia, senior psychiatry experts have called on State, Territory and Federal Governments to spend some of the $4 billion recently marked for mental health services reform on improving prison mental health services.

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Mental Health and Video Visitations

    Video visitations are increasingly being used in prisons to "manage" the visitation rights of inmates from the inside.  The use of video visitations is a mental health issue because it denies parents needed contact with children.  Face-to-face contact with family and friends is imperative since many inmates are in a precarious mental state.  Indeed, many prisoners state that knowing that they are going to have a visit from a loved one is the only thing that gets them through the week.

New York Times
November 11, 2006

A Jail Turns to Video for Visitations

By Robert Strauss

EDMOND C. CICCHI, the warden at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center, saw only chaos during visitation hours at his jail in North Brunswick, N.J.

“You have to visualize the visitation hall and see all these people crowded in there,” said Mr. Cicchi, whose jail averages about 1,200 prisoners a day. “You could have 160 people in there shoulder to shoulder.

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Mental Heath Fact Sheet

Beyond Bars

There are many people in prison in NSW who have some form of mental illness.  This fact sheet examines why people with a mental illness are sent to prison and the problems that arise from the incarceration of those who are have mental health issues.

What is a Mental Illness?
The term ‘mental illness’ is very broad.  It covers a diverse range of health conditions relating to somebody’s psychological state.  Depression and schizophrenia are some of the better known examples of mental illness.  It is useful to note that the definition of mental illness is fluid.  It has changed frequently over time and is influenced by various social and cultural trends.  Some behaviours that would have been diagnosed as mental illness a decade ago would not necessarily be diagnosed in the same way today.

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Inside Story - Prison Health

(Source: British Medical Journal, 22 January 2007)

I can speak from first hand experience about the lack of health care within the prison service, albeit from the perspective of the much over populated female estate.

The job of being a prison doctor is hard. Many inmates are drug users or self harmers. They pull fast ones to get legal prescriptions to alleviate the gnawing need for heroin or crack cocaine. They try to get sick notes so they do not have to work. However, not all prisoners are addicts or skivers, yet we are treated as if we are.

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UN condemns Aus Prisons

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has ruled that Corey Brough, an adolescent Aboriginal man with a mild intellectual disability, has been the victim of human rights violations at the hand of the New South Wales prison officials whilst being detained at Parklea Correctional Centre in Sydney.

The Australian government, a signatory to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has refused to acknowledge the Committee’s decision and are currently ignoring calls for an effective remedy.

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ICOPA IX - Toronto 2000

Ninth International Conference on Penal Abolition

May 10-13, 2000

Ryerson Polytechnic Uni and Metropolitan United Church - Toronto Canada

The concluding session of the Ninth International Conference on Penal Abolition, held in Toronto Canada has chosen Nigeria as the site for the next ICOPA conference. This will be the tenth conference for this growing movement.


Brett Collins of Justice Action

Australia represented the Australasian perspective and enjoyed the hospitality, good will and enthusiasm of the other attendees, his full report follows...

This is a Justice Action report going to participants and others who couldn't get to the International Conference on Penal Abolition 9, held in Toronto Canada May 10-13.


Justice Action was given the responsibility of preparing the list from contacts given. That will be finished in the next few days. On privacy and security issues, we would make the list available to anyone who reasonably needs it, if that is the general feeling. Anyone has the right to say to us, now, that they want us to keep their address kept confidentially. That would form a separate list. Otherwise all contacts from ICOPA including the business cards received and old ICOPA lists would form the list. We will also create a chat room for general use. Several people asked us to keep the messages small due to technical difficulties. We won't send attachments unless requested and people can ask for larger files specifically.


Many people said they hadn't seen the video of ICOPA 8 in New Zealand. A professional filmmaker did the editing. We are happy to distribute copies either as PAL or NTSC, but would need Can $25 to cover costs. Let us know by email and send a cheque.


This report is a general appraisal of the conference to share it with others who couldn't be there, to give a focus for action and to assist in the preparation of ICOPA X.Up to 500 people attended each of the four days, representing every continent and about 22 countries. They ranged from a serving life sentence prisoner let out for the day with an old lifer responsible for him, to Angela Davis, to the head of the United Church of Canada. The plenaries used the magnificent church in the centre of Toronto, and workshops were in the Ryerson University rooms.The structure of the program was: an examination of the hypocrisy of corporate crime, the bias against powerless minorities, the reasons why, and lastly what is being done to confront the problems. It did all those things well within the limitations of the structure. Lots of material was there and everyone had chances to express their opinions at all stages. The tensions of the general community between the rich and the poor, the black and the white, the academic and the oppressed were played out; and recognised. A most memorable and emotional moment from ICOPA 8 in NZ was in the maori marae meeting house when the mother sang of her daughter being taken from her cell after being with her for 3 years, because the rules said she couldn't remain. I also cried at Toronto when Bill Pelke, whose grandmother was murdered, described his meeting the grandmother of the girl on death row, his reconciliation with the girl and successful battle to save her from execution.


Activism had its direct expression when we notched our first (I think) ICOPA arrests in a march through the centre of the city, confronted by the state's forces on push bikes thrusting them sideways into participants using pedals and handlebars as innocuous batons. A good steadying opportunity for all. They take us seriously. Yeh!


The Freedom Ride for an amnesty for prisoners of the Drug War was launched by 1st Nations worker Alita Sauve, to coincide with the lighting of the Olympic Flame in Greece on May 10. Candles lit from a candle carrying the spirit of the London Peace Lamp were passed out to representatives from all continents. In September in Sydney Australia the collation of victims' testimonies from all around the world will base a world call for peace and an amnesty for those prisoners in this Jubilee year.


ICOPA puts people together personally, around focused ideas; re-examines those ideas with new experiences and new people. The results are people return better supported, to do the work in their own communities. The personal contacts are immensely important for the future when coupled with the variety of skills and experiences represented at ICOPA, now available to each other through internet contact.New ideas and challenges were absorbed pretty easily. Publications abounded. No doubt they will be on the website shortly. Corporate crime and examples were well expressed. Mentoring as an extension of transformative justice, and the breakdown of the family support system were presented. I read carefully a paper by Frank Dunbaugh (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) on the process of transformative justice which gave a challenging overview.The organising committee with all its supporters did so well. Still capable of smiles after an enormous effort. Translators to ensure we were truly global, professional video team to ensure the messages go further.


There were too many workshops at the same time. Instead of 20, 4 streams would have allowed more interaction, and with a report back to the plenary the next day to assist in resolutions. Each afternoon a working committee meeting to decide issues like changes, problems and the following ICOPA would be useful. Flexibility with stability has been achieved by a lack of structure, but relying on key people for maintenance. Responsibility and the workload should be more spread for ICOPA's strength. It would be good to fund a secretarial position which would maintain the diary. Most other tasks could be allocated through a steering committee. Like the draft resolutions can be distributed now.Fundraising should be decentralised so that a budget can be agreed on and allocated to the regions now. An existing ICOPA fundraising letter should be modified and distributed. The result would be less financial stress on the host organisation and more ownership by everyone.


Any question that we could be shrugged out was dispelled in the final ceremony organised by Elder Barbara Riley of the Walpole Island First Nation. The circle should be part of all future ICOPAs, and maybe earlier. With such a conference you inevitably don't meet everyone, but finally we all did - in group sex as someone said gleefully. The resounding goodwill and spirit were well expressed by Kiwi Pat Magill who said he'd crawl over broken glass to be at ICOPA X in Nigeria.


ICOPA IX Programs, Papers and documentation

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