“From Data Criminalization to Prison Abolition” is a report, glossary of data systems, and tools for organizers that describe migrant surveillance practices and articulate prison-industrial-complex abolitionist perspectives on data and criminalization. Data has long been used by the criminal legal system to justify the need for and legitimacy of the criminal legal system. As corporations and governments become increasingly enamored with prediction tools and biometric capture, we see data criminalization strategies used for immigrant and traveler stalking creep further into currently non-criminalized spaces, expanding the pools of whom are subject to surveillance and control.
We must be ready to fight data criminalization on our terms. Rather than being drawn into arguments on what constitutes “risk,” whether to limit technologies or improve oversight and the accuracy of datasets, we must understand that these datasets are inherently illegitimate, and creation and use of them should be abolished. Our biometric data is not available for others as raw material to mine, buy, or resell. The time is ripe for a new mass movement to demand data liberation to dismantle criminalization on the road to abolition.
About Community Justice Exchange
Community Justice Exchange develops, shares and experiments with tactical interventions, strategic organizing practices, and innovative organizing tools to end all forms of criminalization, incarceration, surveillance, supervision, and detention. We provide support to community-based organizations across the country that are experimenting with bottom-up interventions that contest the current operation and function of the criminal legal and immigration detention systems. CJE produces tools and resources for organizers to creatively tackle multiple drivers of criminalization and incarceration— including, but not limited to, money bail, court fees and fines, probation and parole, pretrial detention & supervision, and immigration detention & supervision.
This report was written by Puck Lo, with contributions from Rachel Foran, Elizabeth Nguyen, Ana María Rivera-Forastieri, Atara Rich-Shea, Dalia Rubiano Yedidia, and Nathan Yaffe.
Vital feedback for this report came from: Mizue Aizeki, Chelsea Barabas, César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, Edward Hasbrouck, James Kilgore, Julie Mao, Research Action Design (Tim Stallmann, Chris Schweidler, and billy dee), and Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
Special thanks for website feedback and testing: Vicky Aguilera, Pancho Argüelles Paz y Puente, Arely Díaz, Autumn González, August Guang, Luis Luna, Daniella Ponet, Carina Rodríguez, and Julia Zalenski.
Spanish translations by tilde Language Justice Cooperative.