abolitionist |ˌabəˈli sh ənist| noun-a person who favors the abolition of a practice or institution, esp. capital punishment or (formerly) slavery, prisons.
la biblioteca de la evasion is a grassroots abolitionist response to the isolating effects of the prison industrial complex. the group was created by individuals with loved ones currently incarcerated in various different catalan prisons. after years of visiting those on the inside, the impotence had reached unbearable levels. the weekends spent in prison visiting areas had become normalized, it had become part of their everyday life. there was no space to resist, nor to reject this reality- and the only option they encountered was accept the unacceptable. shut up, and watch the time pass, watch their loved ones age, and surrender to the daily injustices they would suffer. sentenced to the same years as the prisoners, they suffered the arbitrary logic and violence of the prison and its guards. they faced the prejudices of a society that would rather forget about its prisoners than ask the hard questions, and find the even harder answers. why are these men and women in jail? who benefits from their incarceration? what does growing prison recidivism mean? why are prisons dominated by just a few faces, when those faces represent a fraction of the population? what is justice? who gets to define it, and how do we change that definition? are prisons the best we can do? for this group, the prison industrial complex wasn’t working, and standing by and accepting that there was nothing to do was a death sentence. and trying to do something seemed so overwhelming it was hard find the starting point.
first they found strength in each other, their individual stories reinforcing each other. they found strength in their collective conviction that prisons are not only unnecessary but in-just. and they found more strength in the histories of resistance to the prison industrial complex. this strength led them to action. it was a proactive step closer to defining for themselves their interaction with the prisons they were sentenced to visiting. the first attempt was the handing out of flyers regarding the exploitation of prison labor in CIRE (centres per l’inciatives per la reinsercio’)* on the bus that transports prison visitors from barcelona to cuatro caminos penitentiary in granollers. the text of the flyer was written by amadeu casellas, an anarchist recently released after nearly two decades of imprisonment. amadeu detailed the exploitation he’d witnessed as a prisoner with a comprehensive analysis of the for profit enterprise and its affect on the prison environment. on the bus the response was positive. most of the passengers were interested. they read the text and nodded their heads. but when they asked those passing out the flyer “this is good, but i already knew this… what do we do now?” there was no prepared answer. the collective hadn’t thought much beyond doing something. they had been looking for anything to interrupt the everyday normal-ness of going to see a loved one caged like an animal, that it had been hard to think much further. but this question was important, and it deserved more attention.