International Conferences on Penal Abolition
International Conferences on Penal Abolition are recurring conferences that occur globally.
1983 - ICOPA 1, the First International Conference on Prison Abolition took place in Toronto, Canada. It was organized by grassroots prison rights activists, prison abolitionist academics, ex-prisoners, Quakers and interested community members. A resolution was passed to make ICOPA a bi-annual event.
1985 - ICOPA 11 was held in Amsterdam and was organized by mainly academics and European scholars.
1987 - ICOPA III was organized by a prison abolitionist group in Montreal, Canada. This conference marked a huge change in the abolitionist movement. Participants and conference organizers decided that a goal to abolish the prison was not sufficient. The real problem was the penal mindset which allowed the prison to exist; thus, to abolish the prison without abolishing the penal mentality and penal structure would only open us up to more oppression. As a result of this realization, the International Conference on Prison Abolition transformed to become the International Conference on Penal Abolition.
1989 - ICOPA IV was held in Poland during a time of political upheaval (iron curtain had not fallen yet) and great oppression. This conference was small but very successful in its showing of bravery and true human commitment to this movement.
1991 - ICOPA V was held in Indiana, USA. This conference focused on Native/Aboriginal Justice and racism in the American Justice System.
1993 - ICOPA VI was held in Costa Rica. This is considered to be among the most successful conferences because it included many scholars, activists, ex-prisoners and government officials who were taking the movement and its ideas seriously.
1995 - ICOPA VII was held in Spain. This conference was not very focused on abolition and thus received many complaints and criticisms from its participants
1997 - ICOPA VIII was held in Auckland, New Zealand. This conference was a good opportunity to learn about Maori Justice and Alternative Justice models based on Maori traditions.
2000 - ICOPA IX was held in Toronto, Canada. Returning to the city it was born in, this conference focused on Transformative Justice and the Corporate Agenda's role in Criminal Justice.
2002 - ICOPA X in Lagos, Nigeria. It was the first one in Africa. The theme: Transformative Justice and Practical Alternative to the Penal System.
2006 - ICOPA XI in in Tasmania, Australia.