The IEC understands that journalists and writers have the freedom to cover our stories and progress as a coalition. However, only the documents produced by the coalition reflect the thoughts and efforts of the IEC as a whole.
If you need participation from the coalition, we will need you to agree to certain terms. As both researchers and those who are often researched, we understand the power and harm that can come from documenting individuals’ and/or groups’ stories, experiences, analysis, and lives. As movement builders of justice and liberation our knowledge cautions us from allowing outside researchers/interviewers/journalists into our safe space and lives who may misinterpret our thinking, analysis, experiences and positions. Therefore, we have created a contract to ensure that the integrity of our work is represented authentically by researchers/interviewers/journalists who cover our work/movement/campaign.
A general letter to the press is below:
Dear members of the press,
As anti-oppressive organizers, students, formerly incarcerated people and community members, we are careful and intentional about how we represent ourselves and our community in the public sphere, particularly where it concerns language. As you may have noticed, the words that typically describe the prison and policing system are not found here, and instead we choose language that humanizes, supports and destigmatizes the experiences of those impacted by mass incarceration. challenges stereotypes and public perception of those impacted by mass incarceration. While this asks for complex conversations with editors and readers, we have found that shifting our language is directly related to shifting the way we think about mass incarceration. Dr. Eddie Ellis said it best here: “We must create new terms and a new language that more properly expresses both our understanding of the present reality and our vision to challenge and change that reality for the future.”
In addition, as members of educational institutions, we care deeply about the production of knowledge and respecting voices and experiences that have been historically silenced. We are committed to writing about our own work, and placing these documents at the center of our work and this conversation. Please read these pieces as documents and statements on our values and as historical texts of the Abolish “the Box” Campaign. Feel free to quote and use these pieces, which can all be found on our website.
When writing about our work, we would appreciate if you respected these guidelines.