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Prison Break: A Reading Group on Incarceration in Singapore and Beyond

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A Critical Reading Group on Incarceration in Singapore and Beyond

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The dominant narrative about policing and prisons in our society is that they keep us safe. Prisons are often considered a necessary evil at worst, or believed to be rehabilitative at best. The Singapore Prison Services motto is “Rehab, Renew, Restart” (it is noteworthy that they are positioned as a service), while the Singapore Police Force’s stated vision is “to make Singapore the safest place in the world”. But do the police and prisons really keep us safe? Do they protect victims, support healing, rehabilitate offenders, and deter harm? What are the effects of the prison system on our minds, families, communities and economy? Surveillance, coercion, punishment, segregation and isolation are tools of policing and prison that don’t only affect prisoners, but all of us in society.

‘Prison Break: A critical reading group on incarceration in Singapore and beyond’ explores the role and powers of prisons and incarceration in Singapore. How do prisons work? Can prisons effectively address social harms? How does the logic of 'carcerality' extend beyond prison compounds? Does this carceral logic seep into other parts of our lives? Can we imagine non-carceral futures for Singapore?

Join us for this reading group where we will critically examine criminalisation and the modern-day prison system, as well as consider the possibilities of transformative justice and a world without prisons. Readings will include works by Angela Davis, Ganapathy Narayanan, Stephanie Chok, Mariam Kaba, Loic Wacquant, Teo You Yenn, as well as other shorter-form articles and multimedia content.

15 Jul - Arrested Minds: Unlearning Prisons

Do prisons keep us safe? We unpack terms such as "harm”, “crime”, “safety”, “security” and “justice”, and delve into myths about prisons and the misconceptions surrounding incarcerated persons.

29 Jul - Arrested Liberty: Prisons, Capitalism & Authoritarianism

Who ends up in prison? What does this tell us about whose interests the law protects? We examine how capitalism and authoritarianism both drive, and are propped up by, criminalisation and incarceration.

12 Aug - Arresting Each Other: Prison Rules...All of Us

How do the ideologies and practices that underpin the prison system manifest in schools, homes, workplaces and other spheres? We explore how prisons shape our beliefs that punishment equals justice, that difference is deviance, and that censorship, surveillance, obedience and repression are necessary for “national security”.

26 Aug - Prison Break: Imagining Alternatives to Prison

Can we imagine a world without prisons? What can we do to make such a world possible? Drawing from perspectives in transformative justice, we explore alternate ways of addressing harm, including community empowerment, collective accountability, and resisting punitive interventions that often perpetuate cycles of harm.

Objectives: To encourage (a) collective, critical reflection on the prison system, and (b) reimagination of a world without prison / alternatives to prison

About Transformative Justice Collective

Transformative Justice Collective is a Singapore-based group founded on the principles of transformative justice. We are committed to demystifying Singapore’s criminal punishment system, studying alternatives to policing and prison, assisting accused persons, incarcerated people and their families, and seeking the abolition of the death penalty and other cruel practices of the carceral system.

For queries, please write to us at

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Organiser Transformative Justice Collective

Organiser of Prison Break: A Reading Group on Incarceration in Singapore and Beyond

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