The following links have been compiled as resources to understand and engage with the movement to abolish incarceration.
This living document is for anyone who wants to build a world where we have safe, strong communities. Where we know and trust our neighbors. Where our response to emergencies of all kinds leads to peace and connection rather than escalated violence and disconnection.
Cutting edge research to expose the broader harm of mass criminalization and spark advocacy campaigns to create a more just society. These reports & infographics help the public understand that mass incarceration is both unprecedented and counterproductive.
The current prison strike’s struggle to achieve visibility has been a central obstacle since the origins of prison organizing. In light of the dangerous implications of neoliberal prison reform and the marginalization of the current prison strike from the public political sphere, the Prison Abolition Syllabus seeks to contextualize and highlight prison organizing and prison abolitionist efforts from the 13th Amendment’s rearticulation of slavery to current resistance to mass incarceration, solitary confinement, and prison labor exploitation.
The Carceral Studies Network hosts resources for those seeking to teach or learn about prisons, policing, and the carceral state. Designed by instructors and students at Duke University, the site is meant to help teachers develop new courses from the ground up, or enrich existing courses with new materials. Learners will also find helpful resources, including texts that can complement assigned readings and syllabi that might facilitate self-study and community-based learning. We hope that this site will be a continually evolving hub for scholarly exchange, innovation, and dialogue, and we encourage users to share their own pedagogical materials with other teachers and learners.
Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) abolition is a political vision with the goal of eliminating imprisonment, policing, and surveillance and creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment.
From where we are now, sometimes we can’t really imagine what abolition is going to look like. Abolition isn’t just about getting rid of buildings full of cages. It’s also about undoing the society we live in because the PIC both feeds on and maintains oppression and inequalities through punishment, violence, and controls millions of people. Because the PIC is not an isolated system, abolition is a broad strategy. An abolitionist vision means that we must build models today that can represent how we want to live in the future. It means developing practical strategies for taking small steps that move us toward making our dreams real and that lead us all to believe that things really could be different. It means living this vision in our daily lives. See the full CR Abolitionist Toolkit, here!
Black & Pink is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. Our work toward the abolition of the prison industrial complex is rooted in the experience of currently and formerly incarcerated people. We are outraged by the specific violence of the prison industrial complex against LGBTQ people, and respond through advocacy, education, direct service, and organizing.
Our goal is liberation. We have a radical view of the fight for justice: We are feminist. We are anti-racist. We want queer liberation. And we are against capitalism. Prisons are part of the system that oppresses and divides us. By building a movement and taking action against this system of violence, we will create the world we dream of. We also celebrate the beauty of what exists now: Our love for each other. The strength of our planet. Our incredible resiliency. All of the power we have to continue existing. While dreaming and struggling for a better world, we commit to living in the present.
Abolitionists advocate drastically limiting the role of criminal law. We do this not because we wish to encourage certain behaviour, but because we realize that criminal sanctions are not an effective way of dealing with social problems. There are far too many laws on the books. It would be prohibitively expensive to enforce them all. This results in unjust and arbitrary law enforcement. Powerless persons are imprisoned while more powerful persons go free. People of colour, first nations and poor people bear the brunt of unequal law enforcement.
Prisoners are on the front lines of wage slavery and forced slave labor where refusal to work while in prison results in inhumane retaliation and participating in slave labor contributes to the mechanisms of exploitation. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) has consciously grasped the importance of organizing prisoners so that prisoners can directly challenge prison slavery, work conditions, and the system itself: break cycles of criminalization, exploitation, and the state sponsored divisions of our working class. At the same time, the prison environment and culture is a melting pot of capitalistic and exploitative tactics and all forms of oppression. These poisons must be challenged in prisons, institutions, and in all of us, through organized working class solidarity.
Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity is an affinity group organizing in solidarity with prisoners against the violence of incarceration. The MAPS website provides a timeline of events leading to the actions in Michigan’s Kinross prison on September 9 and the subsequent and ongoing retaliation against Kinross rebels. It also features recent letters from those imprisoned inside Kinross, plus annotated media coverage of the uprising and analysis of the spark that led to the largest and most widespread prisoner strike in US history. Lastly: it highlights support actions you can take.
Since the invention of the prison as punishment in Western society during the late 1700s, criminal justice systems have so thoroughly depended on imprisonment that we have lost the ability to imagine other ways to solve the problem of “crime.” One of the interesting contributions of prison abolitionists has been to propose other paradigms of punishment or to suggest that we need to extricate ourselves from the assumption that punishment must be a necessary response to all violations of the law.
It may seem difficult – almost impossible – to imagine a world without prisons. Despite their relatively short existence within human history, prisons have become ingrained in our understanding of justice. It is taken for granted by most that the response to crime is incarceration. Those who call for the end of prisons, the abolition of the prison-industrial-complex, are often called utopian, crazy or worse…
The story of disablement and the prison industrial complex must begin with a trail of telling numbers: a disproportionate number of persons incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are disabled. American capitalism, in its failure to incorporate disabled people into its social fabric, instead shunts them into prisons and other institutions. Not surprisingly, once behind bars, prisoners with disabilities face even greater abuse and discrimination than they had encountered on the outside.
The widely declared victory over mass incarceration was premature at best. In this short piece, Ruth Wilson Gilmore raises four areas of particular concern about the state of the anti-prison movement.
These are survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence whose survival actions have been criminalized. Some are still in prison, some are confined to their homes, some are languishing in immigration detention, and some live with the threat of incarceration or deportation at any moment. Some did not make it out of prison alive. The risk of criminalization is particularly high for Black women.
CCWP is a grassroots social justice organization, with members inside and outside prison, that challenges the institutional violence imposed on women, transgender people, and communities of color by the prison industrial complex (PIC). We see the struggle for racial and gender justice as central to dismantling the PIC and we prioritize the leadership of the people, families, and communities most impacted in building this movement.
CCWP es una organización que lucha para el cambio de las condiciones de violencia impuestas en las mujeres, las personas transexuales y las comunidades de color por las prisiones y el sistema criminal de justicia. Estamos construyendo un movimiento con mujeres en prisión, familiares de las prisioneras y la comunidad amplia a través de la organización, el desarrollo del liderazgo y la educación política.