According to a 2019 report, “Human Rights Watch has consistently found in research across various countries that criminalization makes sex workers more vulnerable to violence, including rape, assault, and murder, by attackers who see sex workers as easy targets because they are stigmatized.” Unsurprisingly, police are often the biggest perpatrators against the sex work community. Moreover, as the World Aids Campaign found, sex workers are at greater risk of experiencing health disparities due to criminalization. These risks are exponentially multiplied for trans sex workers, and sex workers of color.
Utah's prison history is one made up of larger and larger prisons being constructed with more and more beds, which are then filled up with more criminals for lesser and lesser crimes. Politicians and officials today are now forced to insist that the goal of incarceration practices in Utah isn’t to “warehouse” people, but when at the very beginning our first state prison was one located far, far from the rest of the community, one has to wonder how true that is. Like other parts of the country, Utah is caught up in a sort of juggling act, prosecuting people, jailing them, releasing them but then doing the whole thing over again when those individuals eventually end up committing the same “crimes” over again.
Despite the community’s rallying emails, calls, public hearing comments, and protests asking the city council and mayor to defund our police department, they failed to listen. This open letter was written in response to the city’s failure to adopt the community’s demands.
Thank you for calling, e-mailing and participating in the public hearing on the city council budget. It was inspiring to hear a resounding demand to #DefundSLCPD with folks sharing their personal stories and ideas to transform our beloved city. We came together with a unified message of anti-racism, and our voices were amplified: over 200 comments were recorded over the course of a six hour meeting! Mayor Mendenhall claims it may have been the longest City Council work session in Utah history.
Incarceration is harmful to the health of everyone in jails, prisons, and detention centers, and not only during times of global health crisis. Read our open letter we sent to Salt Lake County officials to free inmates being held at the Oxbow and Metro Jails while there were active cases of COVID-19.
Find out more about our campaign and sign our petition to release inmates being held in the Salt Lake County Jails. Resources for who to call, including scripts and email templates, are included with a form to fill out your responses.
Read about our workshop held in December about the history of policing. Find resources for an overview of policing Critical Resistance compiled that traces the evolution of policing in the US, and people's resistance to it.