BCRW also began hosting multiple speakers working against the PIC, including Amber Hollibaugh’s Spring 2000 talk on women with AIDS in prison and a conversation titled, “Women, Prison, Punishment.” BCRW also hosted an event in September 2000 titled “Voices from the Inside: Women’s Prison Writing in Performance.”
The momentum surrounding prison abolitionist work and conversation continued into the new year, even with the occurrence of the attacks on 9/11. One speaker, Sister Helen Prejean, a death-row abolitionist activist who befriended a man on death row and fought for his acquittal, gave a talk just two days after 9/11; the talk became an interesting combination of her ideas on death penalty abolition and a reaction to terrorism. Angela Davis, who spoke a few years later at BCRW in 2003, responded to and countered the theories and ideas which Prejean had posed, arguing instead that incarceration also constituted a sort of death penalty—a penalty of civil death—and should therefore also be abolished.
In the following years, BCRW and Barnard students took an active role in the prison abolitionist movement of the early 2000s. From a zine by Club Q (Barnard’s queer student organization), featuring opposition to racist police and prisons, students rallying to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and speaking up against the racism of drug laws—specficially, the proposed Rockefeller Drug Laws.
Other engagements with abolition at BCRW during this time include the Women Seeking Justice series, an exhibit on Women’s Prison Activism, and an edition of the Scholar and Feminist Online in 2007 titled “Women, Prisons, and Change.” The early 2000s were an important and active time for prison-abolitionist mobilization.