When Ziegler and I sat on a panel together at the 2018 Allied Media Conference, he addressed audience concerns that the app is diverting even more money to a bloated carceral system. As Ziegler clarified, money is returned to the depositor after a case is complete, so donations are continuously recycled to help individuals. Interest in the app has grown so much that Appolition has launched a new version, which can handle a larger volume of donations and help direct funds to more organizations.
But the news is not all good. As Ziegler explained, the motivation behind ventures like Appolition can be mimicked by people who do not have an abolitionist commitment. He described a venture that the rapper Jay-Z is investing millions in, called Promise. Although Jay-Z and others call it a “decarceration start-up” because it addresses the problem of pretrial detention, which impacts disproportionately Black and Latinx people who cannot afford bail, Promise is in the business of tracking individuals via the app and GPS monitoring. And, whereas a county can spend up to $200 a day holding someone in jail, Promise can charge $17.8 This is why the organization BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100) issued a warning that Promise helps expand the scope of what the Prison Industrial Complex is and will be in the future. The digital sphere and tech world of the 2000’s [sic] is the next sector to have a stronghold around incarceration, and will mold what incarceration looks like and determine the terrain on which prison abolitionists have to fight as a result.
BYP100 extends the critique of abolitionist organizations like Critical Resistance, which describes “the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to what are, in actuality, economic, social, and political ‘problems’” under the description prison–industrial complex (PIC).
The Corrections Project has created a map of all these interests, with prisons and jails at the core and extending to law enforcement, prison guard unions, prison construction companies and vendors, courts, urban and rural developers, corporations, the media, and more.