History of ICOPA

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History of the International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA)

ICOPA has toured the world for 23 years bringing together prisoners, former prisoners, prisoners’ families and communities most affected by the criminal justice system, scholars, artists, community organizers and organizations. For more information please visit www.actionicopa.org/ (English) and http://icopa2016.lalibre.net/acerca-de-icopa/ (Spanish).

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. 

We are pleased to announce that the Department of Crime and Justice Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, in collaboration with the Young Abolitionists in Boston, with hosting sponsorship at Bristol County Community College in New Bedford and The University of Massachusetts in North Dartmouth will host ICOPA 17 in 2017 on:

July 26: starting with a gathering in the evening (location TBA)

July 27: opening plenaries at UMass Dartmouth followed by a full day conference @ BCC

July 28: full day conference @ BCC

July 29: morning conference at BCC followed by closing plenary and ICOPA closing meeting at UMass Dartmouth 

For more details please contact: icopa17@umassd.edu

ICOPA: The Journey

ICOPA has a long and important history in the fight for justice, hosting conferences in communities and universities committed to social change. It has been organized and attended by internationally renowned scholars and organizers, including those who have courageously and publicly stood against state repression as was shown in ICOPA’s 1989 conference held in Poland behind the borders of the iron curtain during the Cold War. Connecting with this legacy and becoming a part of ICOPA’s journey allows us to build international networks and learn lessons from around the world as we seek to discover and materialize justice in this world.

ICOPA Meetings and Themes

ICOPA I (1983) – Toronto, Canada

How to Include All the Most Difficult Groups in the Community

ICOPA II (1985) – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Theoretical Directions in Abolitionism

ICOPA III (1987) – Montreal, Canada

From Prison Abolition to Penal Abolition

ICOPA IV (1989) – Kazimierz, Poland

Abolitionism in Eastern Europe

ICOPA V (1991) – Bloomington, Indiana, United States

Aboriginal Roots and Radical Empowerment

ICOPA VI (1993) – San Jose, Costa Rica

Challenging Third World Governments to Adopt Abolitionist Steps

ICOPA VII (1995) – Barcelona, Spain

Penal Abolition, A Real Utopia

ICOPA VIII (1997) – Auckland, New Zealand – Aotearoa

Pathways to Penal Abolition

ICOPA IX (2000) – Toronto, Canada

Transformative Justice: New Questions, New Answers

ICOPA X (2002) – Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria

Promoting Justice for Victims, Offenders and the Community

ICOPA XI (2006) – Tasmania, Australia

Politics of Imprisonment, Contemporary Forms of Penal Custom, Post Carceral Resettlement and Action Now

ICOPA XII (2008) – London, England

Creating a Scandal: Prison Abolition and the Policy Agenda

ICOPA XIII (2010) – Belfast, Northern Ireland

Abolition, Reform and the Politics of Global Incarceration

ICOPA 14 (2012) – St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago

ICOPA 15 (2014) – Ottawa, Canada – Algonquin Territory

Resisting the Carceral State

ICOPA 16 (2016) – Quito, Ecuador

Experiences of resistance and discussions on abolitionism from Latin America

ICOPA 17 (2017) – New Bedford, MA, United States – Wampanoag territory

Abolition and its Ghosts: Historic Memory and on-going struggles against oppression

ICOPA 18 (2018) – Liverpool, United Kingdom