Critique of the Criminal Justice System by Bibi June


A poetic exploration of prison abolition and transformative justice.

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In ‘Critique of the Criminal Justice System’, written in the year following the incarceration of their brother, Bibi June explores their journey to understanding that abolition is just as much a dedication to how you treat the people around you as it is a political statement.

Grappling with anger and confusion, they think back on the childhood they shared with their brother, and how society forced them into different narratives.

This is a pamphlet about memory and education, about chosen families and homes, and the ways in which we police those around us. It questions if any justice can be found in the criminal justice system, and how we can make it ourselves.

“Whether you’re new to discussions on prison abolition and the feelings that surround it, or a well-versed veteran of the cause, Bibi June’s pamphlet will offer you a bracingly fresh perspective. Not just on the criminal justice system, but on so many things that have been left unprobed for far too long, including language itself. As powerful through their discipline and distance as they are their raw emotion, here are poems that know what it costs to hold things too tightly. And yet ultimately June’s pamphlet is a hymn to closeness, a manifesto for bridging gaps that we too easily write off as unbridgeable, or inevitable. They offer us another way to think about love and retribution, and to wrestle with our own hypocrisies. Once it gets under your skin, it’s impossible to shake.”
– Ben Norris (poet, actor & voice of Ben Archer in The Archers)

Bibi June (@bibijunes) is a non-binary poet, theatre maker and producer. Their work focusses on queerness, climate justice, and alternatives to capitalism. An import-Glaswegian originally from Amsterdam, they began writing poetry to be performed on stage. Since then, their work has been published widely in the UK in publications including the ‘We Were Always Here’ anthology and Gutter.

Their first pamphlet ‘Begin Again’ (Speculative Books, 2017) features poetry on growing up queer and finding happiness. They run Glasgow-based theatre company ‘In The Works’, and their collaborative spoken word theatre shows have toured to venues and events across the UK and Ireland. Their artistic career involves a variety of roles including voice actor, playwright, and wrangler of poets.