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Abolition

This guide explores what prison abolition is, an overview of the movement, and resources.

Abolition as Healing: Liberating our CommUNITY

Figure 1. Unity Week Poster, Evergreen Background

Poster Designed by Yoony Choi

Abolition: Definition

Abolition

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 it is challenging to 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.

Abolition is both a practical organizing tool and a long-term goal. Critical Resistance (2020)

"Abolition is about presence, not absence. It’s about building life-affirming institutions."
—Ruth Wilson Gilmore

The following is a short short film featuring prison abolitionist & professor, Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore, "Geographies of Racial Capitalism".

Mass Incarceration Library Guide

Additional Guides on Abolition

Beyond Prisons Podcast

Beyond Prisons is a podcast that explores incarceration from an abolitionist perspective. We amplify the voices of people directly impacted by the system and seek to tell stories that push us to imagine and work toward a world without prisons. Launched in 2017 by Kim Wilson and Brian Sonenstein, Beyond Prisons is an educational and political resource for those new to abolition and those long engaged in movement work.