The purpose of People Against Prisons Aotearoa is to achieve prison abolition in Aotearoa. Everything we do is grounded in these fundamental principles:
Capitalism is the reason prisons exist in Aotearoa. People Against Prisons Aotearoa recognises that capitalism is an exploitative economic system that is responsible for immense inequality, poverty and suffering. At the same time that capitalism creates hunger, homelessness and imprisonment for those at the bottom, it creates incredible wealth for those at the top. Capitalism is a destructive force that kills our communities and the environment. We see the prison as a cog that keeps the capitalist machine running and believe we must do everything we can to stop the injustices of this economic system. Meaningful justice requires a world beyond capitalism.
The need for new markets and ever-growing profits is part of the reason for the colonisation of Aotearoa. The introduction of capitalism to Aotearoa led to large scale theft of land and the destruction of Māori society. We recognise that this racist violence is foundational to capitalism and the prison system, and support Māori revolutionary struggle against it. People Against Prisons Aotearoa is committed to tino rangatiratanga and mana motuhake, as they are expressed in Te Tiriti o Waitangi and He Whakapūtanga. We believe that the prison stands in the way of decolonisation.
Prisons do not keep communities safe. Instead, they do serious harm to people in prison and make them more likely to harm others once they leave. While we support immediate reforms to police, courts and prisons which will reduce the damage they cause, we do not believe that justice can be achieved without their complete abolition. Prison abolition means a world without prisons and the violence they create. We believe that a revolution which will destroy prisons once and for all is the only way we will be able to create a just world.
Alternatives to Prisons
People Against Prisons Aotearoa is committed to alternatives to prisons that address harm and help people to change their behaviour. We recognise that no one is disposable and that everyone is capable of change. We believe in community-oriented solutions to harm that do not punish or dehumanise those who have done wrong. Justice for all those involved requires a commitment to changing harmful behaviour and repairing damaged relationships.
People Against Prisons Aotearoa is committed to building a world of equality between all people. We see prisons as an obstacle to this equality. Capitalism, racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression are made stronger by prisons. While we believe that prisons are always violent, we recognise that certain groups are more likely to experience further violence in prison than others. We are committed to ending the system that inflicts this violence. None of us are free until all of us are free.
Equality between all people is not a goal we can achieve on our own. Prison abolition, decolonisation and anti-capitalism in Aotearoa cannot be separated from international struggles. People Against Prisons Aotearoa stands in solidarity with the revolutionary efforts of others within Aotearoa and across the world. In unity, we are strong.