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Rustbelt Abolition Radio

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Rustbelt Abolition Radio is an abolitionist media and movement-building project based in Detroit, MI. Each episode amplifies the voices of those impacted by mass incarceration and explores ongoing work in the movement to abolish the carceral state.

Rustbelt Abolition Radio is an abolitionist media and movement-building project based in Detroit, MI. Each episode amplifies the voices of those impacted by mass incarceration and explores ongoing work in the movement to abolish the carceral state.
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Rustbelt Abolition Radio is an abolitionist media and movement-building project based in Detroit, MI. Each episode amplifies the voices of those impacted by mass incarceration and explores ongoing work in the movement to abolish the carceral state.




Democracia y Dictadura: el estado carcelario Chileno y resistencias abolicionistas

Hablamos con Patricio Azócar Donoso sobre los aparatos carcelarios que se despliegan dentro de los territorios que hoy se conocen como Chile -- desde la dictadura hasta la llamada transición democrática. Patricio traza tanto la emergencia del punitivismo corporativo que capitaliza la miseria de las poblaciones por medio de sus varios aparatos de control social como también las resistencias que le hacen frente a estos aparatos de administración de la miseria.


Prison Labor and Industrial Penology

Charlie Bright speaks about the re-articulations of carceral narratives: from the era of Fordism through discourses on modernization and the desperate rehabilitation of the rehabilitative model. Bright discusses how a century’s worth of constant re-negotiations of the coherence of departments of correction has been informed by struggles within prisons and the populations they seek to control, and some of the reasons why industrial penology was overcome by riots and may be turning to...


The Death Penalty, Sovereignty, and Abolition

Lisa Guenther, currently a professor of philosophy at Queen’s University in so-called Ontario, Canada, deconstructs the state’s right to kill or let live within settler-colonial & racial capitalist social relations. We also discuss abolitionist forms of relationality that interrupt sovereignty’s hold on life and social death.


Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments Feat. Saidiyah Hartman

Saidiya Hartman speaks about her latest book, Wayward Lives: Beautiful Experiments Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval, and the beauty, autonomy, anarchy, fugitivity, queerness, and errancy in forms of Black sociality — what she calls waywardness. We also discuss how to interrupt the state’s apparatus of capture and the new social formations that emerge as people flee from predatory state forms. Transcript available at


Pill or Punishment: Involuntary Medication at a Michigan's Women's Prison

On January 2019, more than two thousand women confined at Michigan’s only women’s prison were put in quarantine. The quarantine comes in the wake of a possible scabies outbreak at the facility -- which has a long history of abuse and multiple cases of medical neglect. While many of the women held captive there displayed no symptoms, and pointed out other health hazards, such as black mold and infested showers, all of those who refused the state’s systemic administration of medical treatment...


Abolish Risk Assessment

"Predictive" instruments are common currency within the carceral reform movement. In this episode we speak with three abolitionists --Rodrigo Ochigame, Chelsea Barabas, and Hamid Khan-- to contextualize the use of pre-trial assessments and algorithmic policing tools by technocratic stalker state.


Letters from inside: The 2018 Prison Strike

In the thick of the 2018 prison strike, we published a notice in the San Francisco Bay View -- the extraordinary monthly Black newspaper which circulates through hundreds of prisons and other centers of detention in the United States -- asking those on the inside to write to us with their immediate reflections on the prison strike. Specifically: how recent prison strike actions advanced the politics of abolition. We received letters from folks imprisoned in a dozen different states, and in...


Ni Una Menos en las Cárceles

Nos encontramos frente a la difícil tarea de entablar un diálogo más allá del rustbelt, más allá del “cinturón oxidado,” más allá de esos territorios y poblaciones como Detroit y Flint, zonas de abandono organizado y violencia organizada del Estado y el capitalismo racial. Es decir, nos encontramos frente a una cierta tarea de traducción, una tarea siempre fallida, siempre imposible, pero hoy, más que nunca, sumamente necesaria. En particular, en este programa, que titulamos "Ni Una Menos en...


Riots, Crisis, and Prisons

In this episode, we speak with Joshua Clover, author of Riot. Strike. Riot: The New Era of Uprisings and professor of literature and critical theory at the University of California Davis, about the ongoing crisis of racial capitalism and its relation to riots and the carceral state.


Anti-Fascism and Carceral State feat. Lorenzo Ervin and JoNina Abron-Ervin

In this special bonus episode, we present a conversation between True Leap Press and Lorenzo Ervin and JoNina Abron-Ervin, recorded in Chicago earlier last month. Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin is an anarchist writer, organizer, and former political prisoner who came up through the Black Panther Party in the 1960’s. Among other works, he is the author of the pamphlet “Anarchism and the Black Revolution”, which introduces the principles of class struggle anarchism and discusses its relevance to the...


Political Organizing Behind the Walls

In this episode, we speak with Michigan-based writer and activist Dennis Boatwright. Dennis was held captive by the state for 24 years of his life and has written about the strategies and politics of the prisoner resistance movement. We speak with him in the wake of the two most massive prison strikes in Amerikan history to grapple with the possibilities of political organizing on the inside as well as the challenges that lie ahead.


Reports from the 2018 Prison Strike

As reports of the 2018 prison strike actions and state retaliation continue to come in, we speak with Amani Sawari, organizer and media contact with Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, about ways to support prison rebels. We also hear from J, a prison rebel who’s among the strikers inside a South Carolina Prison.


Prelude to the 2018 Prisoner Strike

Preparing for the upcoming 2018 Prisoner Strike -- slated to take place between August 21st and September 9th -- we speak with members of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the IWW about the lead-up to the strike and how you can get involved. This year’s actions come in the wake of the extraordinary 2016 prison strike -- the largest and most widespread prisoner strike in U.S. history. It is estimated that 50,000 imprisoned workers in more than two dozen states refused to do the...


Native Resistance and the Carceral State

Nick Estes identifies the anti-Indian origins of the carceral state within the U.S. settler colonial project and argues that indigenous liberation offers critical frameworks for understanding how to abolish it. Estes is a co-founder of The Red Nation: an anti-profit coalition dedicated to the liberation of Native Nations, lands, and peoples. He also holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of New Mexico.


Abolishing Electronic Incarceration

In this episode, “Abolishing Electronic Incarceration”, co-producer a Maria speaks with Myaisha Hayes and James Kilgore about the movement to challenge the widening use of “electronic monitoring devices,” or ankle shackles. Myaisha is the National Organizer of Criminal Justice & Technology at the Center for Media Justice. James works with the Urbana Champaign independent media center and is the director of a project called “challenging e-carceration” which grows out of his own experiences...


Specters of Attica: Reflections from Inside a Michigan Prison Strike

On the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising, hundreds imprisoned inside Michigan’s Kinross Correctional Facility refused to report to work or lock down in their barracks. Instead, they joined the largest prisoner labor strike in U.S. history. Rustbelt Abolition Radio co-produced this April 25, 2018 episode of Making Contact, in which four men who were imprisoned at Kinross report on the unlivable conditions, the moments in which the strike took shape, and the retaliation that...


Border as Method

In this episode we speak with Sandro Mezzadra, who has written extensively about borders and migration, such as in a book he co-authored with Brett Neilson titled “Border as Method.” He talks about the processes of bordering that extend far beyond the walls we usually think about when we speak of borders.


On Carceral Capitalism

This episode features Jackie Wang and her recently released collection of essays titled “Carceral Capitalism.” She provides a framework to understand how racial capitalism produces gratuitous violence against Black bodies as well as profit-generating technologies of extraction -- from Ferguson to Flint and beyond.


Out but not free: Surviving after Women’s Prison

This episode features Karmyn, a writer and artist who was discharged from Michigan’s Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility after being locked up for 7 years. She speaks about the struggle to maintain a sense of self during and after imprisonment, and how the fear of state retaliation continues to saturate daily life.


Dispatches from Zapatista Territory

In this episode, “Dispatches from Zapatista Territory,” we speak with two of our fellow co-producers about their recent trip to autonomous Zapatista communities in the highlands of the Mexican southeast. For more than 24 years, the Zapatistas have inspired countless struggles across the globe to build “a world in which many worlds fit.” While the Zapatistas are not explicitly penal abolitionists, we reflect on how the Zapatista construction of autonomy may help us re-imagine the challenges...