One of the many frustrating aspects of the judicial system, for me, is the acceptance of the idea that we can't decide what is right or wrong for ourselves; that someone we have no connection to, who knows nothing of us or our situation, is allowed to decide whether or not we have been wronged by another and then make a decision about the fate of that person. Is it so crazy to think that we could empower ourselves to take back that authority in our own lives and communities?
Example (not the best, but there really never is a perfect example). If someone breaks into my home, I don't desire to call a stranger (the police) to make them whisk the person off, so that another stranger (the judge/jury) can decided whether or not they were really in my home and whether or not that was okay. I should be able to confront them at that moment, in that place. In the time it would take to call the police, one could instead call friends and neighbors if they felt they needed someone else involved.
When you get into more serious matters, like instances of sexual assault or murder, things will always be tricky. But the current "justice" system has proven that it is ineffective at both identifying the correct perpetrator, and stopping them from doing something again (except in cases of lifelong imprisonment/death). Whose to say that the people directly involved couldn't do a better job or finding out who did it and finding a correct solution. And, while I do recognize the problematic aspects of "vigilante justice", I personally find no fault in physical confronting someone who has harmed you or telling them that they must leave town. But there is also room for talking through things, understanding a situation, learning from our mistakes, and moving on in way that those directly involved deem appropriate.
And we must recognize the cause of most crime. Personally, I don't beleive that people are born murderers or rapists. Society, the conditions of their lives (especially as children), and a variety of other factors affect what decisions people make. So, we must take a look at the causes of violence in the first place. The disempowerment that comes from economic, racial, class based, etc oppression that may cause someone to lash out and seek power over another. The obsession with power that this society tries to force-feed us that causes those with power to desire more at any cost. The message that empowerment or power over are both power - and therefore interchangeable, equal, and necessary to our well-being.
I apologize if this sounds vague or intangible, but the abolition of prisons is far more complicated than the simple destruction of a few walls. We could rid ourselves of prisons tomorrow, but we would find that people would simply replace them. Same goes for police, we could kill all cops, but new cops, even if under a different name, would pop up everywhere As long as there is a need for such institutions, they will continue to exist. We need to change the way we view ourselves, eachother, our communities, our relations, etc. We must rid ourselves of a need for prisons.
First and foremost we need to empower ourselves, our friends, our communities, to take back that control, to recognize that we don't need the mediation of strangers to decided what is good or bad, right or wrong for us.