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‘Unauthorized Disclosure’—Episode 26: Let Incarcerated People Speak For Themselves

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Host Kevin Gosztola welcomes Kim Wilson and Brian Sonenstein, co-hosts of the “Beyond Prisons” podcast, to the “Unauthorized Disclosure” weekly podcast. Wilson and Sonenstein discuss their new show, which covers prisons and prison reform from an abolitionist perspective. It elevates people directly impacted by the system of mass incarceration by featuring their voices.

“All too often in criminal justice reporting, in police reporting, in general for the most part, you’re getting the side of cops, prosecutors, the state, the government, and taken for granted and completely left out of the equation are the people directly impacted by it,” Sonenstein says. “It’s important to stop talking about what’s best for incarcerated people and let them start speaking for themselves.”

Wilson adds, “We’re coming from a place, where we don’t speak for people. We don’t believe that anyone is voiceless. We believe that we need to amplify those voices that are not typically heard but also to focus on abolition as a viable goal. Because the tendency to sort of think more of abolition as something that will happen in the distant future, some kind of utopia we can only get to if we get rid of a lot of other things in its path.”

The objective the hosts had was to “collapse the distance” and make people see that abolition is a goal that is achievable, Wilson further recalls.

Both of the hosts take issues that may not traditionally be viewed as prison issues and explore them on their show. For example, as Wilson highlights, universal health care may not be commonly seen as a prison issue but it is for incarcerated people. Art may not be a prison issue, however, access to crayons, pencils, and paper within the walls of prisons is a crucial prison issue.

In the latter half of the episode, a short segment highlights how CIA torture architects James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen invoked the cases of accused Nazi war criminals to argue they should not be held responsible for torture.

To listen to the entire episode, click the above player or go here.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."