3/13 | Radical Acts of Justice

Osyrus Bolly, Tracy McCarterJocelyn Simonson, and Bernard E. Harcourt

read and discuss

Radical Acts of Justice by Jocelyn Simonson

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Columbia University

Radical Acts of Justice

In her brilliant and meticulous, thoroughly documented book, Radical Acts of Justice: How Ordinary People Are Dismantling Mass Incarceration, the critical theorist and practitioner Professor Jocelyn Simonson shows us how people join together today to form powerful coalitions to resist and challenge injustice in courthouses throughout the country and, together, to build a new and more just society.

People coming together to pool their monies and pay off other people’s bail. People coming together to watch other people’s trials and bear witness to their ordeals. People joining together to mount defenses and protest detention, imprisonment, punishment – and to call for the end of pretrial detention.

Simonson’s remarkable book highlights all the ways that collectivities are coming together today to transform our societal practices of punishment and uplift a new vision of a just society.

In this session Coöperism 3/13, we will together explore forms of cooperation within one of the most critical contemporary spaces: the criminal legal processes. We used to refer to this field as the “criminal justice system,” but those terms, we now know, are oxymorons. The criminal legal field is not one of “justice,” any more than it is a single, integrated “system.” It is instead a quagmire of tortuous legal processes that, for most people, amount to the equivalent of a medieval ordeal.

It is within those critical spaces of the criminal legal ordeals that we will be focusing our discussion of cooperation this week, and asking, very specifically:

What does “cooperation” look like in the criminal legal field?

To what extent do these radical acts of justice draw on cooperation?

And vice versa, to what extent do these radical acts of justice create cooperation?

Moreover, how do we nurture, foster, and augment cooperation in the space of these criminal legal ordeals?

Together with two inspiring, accomplished, and brilliant organizers and social justice advocates, Osyrus Bolly and Tracy McCarter, we will explore at Coöperism 3/13 how practices of cooperation and mutual aid infuse, produce, and result from these transformative practices in the context of the criminal legal process.