In recent months, a Seminar on Prisoners’ Writings has been meeting in Oakland. The idea of this seminar is to take some of the writings of people politicized by imprisonment, and make their insights available to the movements and the general public.
In the discussions in this seminar, the issue of the system of victimless crimes, and victimless crime laws, has arisen. There are two outstanding aspects of this system. The first is that around 70% of all prisoners in the US are convicted of victimless crimes. (Exact figures are unobtainable, but since 1970, when the US prison population was below 300,000, it has been through the “war on drugs,” the “broken window” paradigm, and stop and frisk procedures that imprisonment has risen to almost two and half million. All three campaigns depended almost exclusively on victimless crime laws.) The second is that this system provides the legalist power upon which police impunity, police racial profiling, and police militarization are founded.