Australia has become a country defined by its love of locking people up and we see the most vulnerable in our society as a threat

In a lecture hall at the University of Queensland, a woman in acid-wash jeans and cowboy boots sits with her legs apart addressing a rapt audience. She speaks in gritty tones that tell of a working-class childhood and a late education. Debbie Kilroy is the founder of Sisters Inside, an advocacy group for incarcerated women. She pulls no punches. Prison is big business. We must shut down the prison-industrial complex.

I first learned of Sisters Inside when I was studying law. I had picked up a brochure about the latest Is Prison Obsolete? conference, which was to be held in Melbourne. I showed it to my mother. “Women who’ve been in prison can attend for free.” She registered immediately.

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