17th International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA 17)

July 26, 2017 @ 6:00 pm – July 29, 2017 @ 2:00 pm
Bristol Community College
800 Purchase St
New Bedford
MA 02740
Young Abolitionists

The Department of Crime and Justice Studies at UMass Dartmouth and the Young Abolitionists present: ICOPA 17 – Abolition and its Ghosts; Historic Memory and Ongoing Struggles Against Colonialism and Slavery. This year’s conference will be hosted at Bristol Community College and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

ICOPA has toured the world for 23 years bringing together prisoners, former prisoners, prisoners’ families, communities most affected by the criminal justice system, scholars, artists, community organizers and organizations. For more information please visit: https://icopa17.wordpress.com/.

In its long history, ICOPA has only been hosted in the United States once (in 1991). Being home to the largest criminal justice system in the world has made it necessary for us to learn about abolition as we explore and build sustainable options for liberty and justice.

The site of this year’s meeting is significant. New Bedford, on the northeastern coast of Turtle Island, was the first northern home for Frederick Douglass, an African man who escaped chattel slavery in the U.S. South to become an outspoken abolitionist, author, speaker, advocate, and community organizer. Upon arriving in New Bedford, Douglass quickly realized how the “free” states of the North were not free for all. He dedicated his life to working towards abolition within strong abolitionist communities in New Bedford and beyond.

The conference will be held at both:
UMass Dartmouth
285 Old Westport Rd, North Dartmouth, MA 02747
Bristol Community College
800 Purchase St, New Bedford, MA 02740

Honoring the legacy of Frederick Douglass and all enslaved Africans who fought for their lives and our freedom, this conference aims to inspire understandings and draw our visions towards the diverse, repeated and present manifestations of colonialism and slavery. We seek papers, presentations, workshops and art that can illustrate how the penal system prolongs historic violence into modern life while centering the voices of those most impacted and least heard. ICOPA 17 will also highlight the voices of those who are at the frontlines of the struggle against the many faces of the carceral states in which we live and die today, for our lives are built upon the resistance of our ancestors and are haunted by the unchanging root sources of colonial power, the militarized occupation of stolen lands and the racialized labor that was forced to work them.

Event details:
The conference will begin with an informal social on the evening of Wednesday, July 26th from 7-9pm at the Cape Verdean Vets Hall in New Bedford, MA, two full days of workshops, presentations, art and exhibitions on Thursday and Friday and will conclude with a closing ceremony and strategy sessions all of Saturday, July 29th. More information on housing, registration, financial aid and other logistics can be found on the ICOPA 17 website here: https://icopa17.wordpress.com/.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN! To register, please click here: https://umassdartmouth.qualtrics.com/jfe5/form/SV_ekr7sPCfHq2ps33
For any questions and concerns around aid and accessibility please email: [email protected] or physically send letters to the Crime and Justice Studies address below.

Call for Proposals:
The official call for proposals can be found here: https://icopa17.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/final_callforpaperscallforart_icopa17.pdf

Completed proposals may be sent electronically to: [email protected] or physically to:

Wendy Graca
Crime and Justice Studies
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth • 285 Old Westport Road • Dartmouth, MA 02747-2300

All proposals must have abolitionist politics, and adhere to the theme of the conference stated above. We strongly encourage proposals that consider the conference theme through the lens of:
•Prisoners, former prisoners and their families
•The lived experiences and voices of those most directly harmed by the criminal justice system at the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality
•Grassroots organizing
•Trans people of color at the front lines of struggle
•Transformative justice and projects that present justice beyond the confines of punishment
•Anti-prison, anti-carceral campaigns
•Struggles and successes coming out of prison and building communities of support

We look forward to seeing you in Massachusetts!

In struggle,
ICOPA 17 organizing committee