Sorry, Restorative Justice Doesn’t Work With Fascists

With apologies to my compatriots on the left, for some folks, only prison will do

Tim Wise
6 min readJan 9


Image: Johnny Silvercloud, Shutterstock, standard license purchased by the author

As I write this, supporters of recently-defeated Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro have finally been removed from that nation’s Congress building, Supreme Court, and Presidential palace.

They had to be removed because over the weekend they decided to storm all three.

Of course they did.

As with their ideological contemporaries in the United States — Trump’s MAGA minions — fascists only have one move when they lose at the ballot box: violence.

They reject democracy if it fails to produce their desired outcome, which is to say they reject democracy altogether, as it never promises a particular result. This is precisely what happened here on January 6, 2021.

Speaking of which.

Though it is uncertain how the Brazilian legal system will deal with insurrectionists there, here each week brings more trials and handed-down sentences for some among the hundreds who stormed the Capitol, hoping to block the certification of the 2020 election.

Though most have received sentences well below what prosecutors have asked for and often below the recommended sentencing guidelines, a goodly number of the most violent insurrectionists will be doing time, or already are.

As well they should.

Indeed, I wish they were going away for much longer.

As for those found guilty of insurrection or sedition, like Oath Keeper Stewart Rhodes and his colleagues, and hopefully, soon, the Proud Boys?

I sincerely hope they are locked up for decades.

It wouldn’t bother me one bit were they reduced to three hots and a cot until they were old enough for hip replacements and Social Security, at which point perhaps compassionate release would be justified.

For saying this, some of my compatriots on the left will no doubt seek to pull my card as a member of the club. We are the ones typically calling for prison abolition, after all. We abhor the carceral state. How can I support prison for the 1/6 defendants, even…



Tim Wise

Anti-racism educator and author of 9 books, including White Like Me and, most recently, Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights, December 2020)