As activists who engage in arrestable direct actions, we are familiar with how the criminal (in)justice system works, at least for us. Our friends take the scary and difficult step to risk arrest, putting themselves on the line to resist ecological and political injustices in the communities we work in, and are carted off to jail. This “visit” in jail comes, typically, with a jail support team who cater to our needs, making sure that there is always someone on a jail support line to answer our calls, sending us books and letters, and, many times, raising enough money to bail us out.
While supporting our friends is vital for any campaign built around resisting oppression, (particularly, in these cases of extraction, capitalism, and exploitation), there must be a paradigm shift in how we view our work and how we continue doing jail support. This shift must reflect the realities of how jails and prisons function, meaning an understanding of which communities are disproportionately affected, and the ways that the prison-industrial complex intentionally targets and incarcerates these communities.
Jail support, then, needs to extend past the bubble of traditionally privileged activism and move also towards supporting money poor people, low-income people, people of color, undocumented people, and queer & transgender people. We need to use our privilege as folks who have the ability to move in and outside of prison walls with relative ease, to directly resist state violence against oppressed communities.