ICOPA Introduction

 icopa hall

"The time has come to abolish the game of crime and punishment, and to substitute a paradigm of restitution and responsibility. The goal is the civilization of our treatment of offenders." Ruth Morris of Rittenhouse, Canada 1997

What is ICOPA?

The International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA) is bi-annual global gathering of a variety of people around the world including academics, activists, practitioners and people who are currently or were previously imprisoned. The conference encourages a dialogue for new ideas to work towards the abolition of imprisonment and the penal system. The ICOPA 14 was held in Trinidad to address the main issues concerning the Caribbean penal system and the actions to be taken in order for abolition to occur. Justice Action was invited to participate in ICOPA and contributed its perspective on the crime situation in the Caribbean, the government authorities and the prison system. The next ICOPA is scheduled to be held in Canada in 2014 with the aim to further strive for the abolition of the penal system.

International Conference on Penal Abolition

The Movement to Abolish Prisons is as old as prisons themselves. In the 19th century, voices like Thomas Buxton of the British Parliament and Victor Hugo of France condemned the prison system and retributive justice. In 1976 Gilbert Cantor, a former editor of the Philadelphia Bar magazine, wrote in that prestigious magazine: "If our entire criminal justice apparatus were simply closed down...there would probably be a decrease in the amount of behaviour now labelled 'criminal.'

In 1981, the Canadian Quaker Committee on Jails and Justice planted the seed that grew to become ICOPA. Since 1982, fifteen international conferences have been held in all regions of the world. 


The Abolition Foundation

ICOPA founders have established a small trust to continue the conferences and build the movement for penal abolition.

ICOPA needs your help and support.


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