John Oliver’s Justice Series
A critical guide to America’s “Justice” System
Since 2014, John Oliver and Last Week Tonight have produced 10 episodes which detail various problems within the United States Justice System.
For those who believe that the courts are fair and that prisons are necessary, Last Week Tonight Makes it Clear: The prison industrial complex is slavery and class warfare, thinly veiled as “Justice”.
In an attempt to make learning about this unjust system simple and relatively painless, we have organized these episodes in order of how they are experienced by people within the system, from municipal violations to prison reentry.
- Municipal Violations
- Civil Forfeiture
- Public Defenders
- Elected Judges
- Mandatory Minimums
- Death Penalty
- Prison Reentry
In These Ten Episodes John Oliver Tells the Story of Incarceration.
If you don’t have the time to watch all three hours of video, don’t worry! Below, we’ve included show notes which summarize the key points of each episode [if you click on the episode title, it will connect you to the video].
Looking for More?
Below we’ve attached some additional videos which cover other broken components of “Law Enforcement” such as
Systemic Racism and the Carte Blanche Incarceration of Immigrants and Refugees
All of this, of course, is influenced by the wealth gap and policy makers
What Are You Going to Do About It?
These incarcerated people (sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, friends) need your support.
Those who refuse to work, come September 9th, face a variety of punishments; from the loss of “good time”, to receiving new charges (note Bomani Shakur).
Those who participate in this strike are risking their lives, with very little hope for personal benefit. These striking people have suffered greatly, and fast reform is unlikely… but, these striking prisoners are risking it all, so that they might save others from this broken system. They are sacrificing their own freedom, so that others might be more free.
To get involved, follow these steps:
- Strength in Numbers. Find a local group of people who are interested in Prison Reform and the September 9th Strike (lawyers, activists, relatives of the incarcerated, religious communities).
- Prepare for September 9th. How will you and your group(s) support the striking prisoners in your area? Can you volunteer at a local jail or prison? Can you write prisoners, demonstrating your support?
- Legal Support. Unfortunately, there are legal barriers which separate the general public from incarcerated people. The only people able to have consistent contact with incarcerated peoples are attorneys. It is important that your group has legal counsel — to protect and advise your group and the incarcerated people you want to assist. Contact the National Lawyers Guild or your local Public Defender’s office for starters.
- Direct Action. Noise demos, sit-ins, and other events in, near and around prisons and jails are a great way to support incarcerated people’s morale. You can use social media to organize events like this one: Rally at FCC Coleman to End Toxic Prison Slavery.
- Sustain and Spread Awareness. Whether it’s through wearing prison scrubs in public, tabling at local events, or creating events of your own_ there are many ways to live in solidarity with the incarcerated and the families of incarcerated peoples. While 1 in 31 adults are involved with the legal system, stigma, shame, and fear prevent defendants and their families from speaking up — uniting with each other and their communities. To be assertive, create space, and demonstrate that support and empathy are not endorsements of harmful behavior. The support of those in legal struggle does not endorse wrongdoing, but it opposes a system which punishes and disempowers instead of helping and empowering the most disenfranchised individuals of our society.
- Assist with Reentry. While the ultimate goal is to reform the legal system, redirecting public funds to education and communities instead of incarceration. Until those changes happen, there are 2,000 people released across the nation each day — and they are desperately in need of help. Housing, clothing, employment, and positive emotional support. These four things are scarce to most people as they begin the reentry process. Whatever your group can do will go a long way to help stem the vicious cycle of poverty and incarceration.
Just in case you were wondering: Why are incarcerated people going on strike? Why should non-incarcerated people care? The answer is this:
Utilizing incarcerated people for labor is SLAVERY.
Coercing people to perform labor under the threat of punishment is slavery. The capture and detainment of humans, who are then forced to work for companies and organizations — This is SLAVERY.
It is not ok because they are “criminals”.
A system which profits from the exploitation of disadvantaged people is criminal itself. If people choose to work, they should be reimbursed for their time, in accordance with the labor laws which already exist.
While there are so many other points to contest, this is the most basic.
End Prison Slavery
Amend the 13th Amendment
To stand complicit as injustice is done to others, is to precipitate injustice upon yourself.