Reimagining Justice: A Primer on Defunding the Police and Prison Abolition

As demonstrations against racial injustice and police misconduct sweep the U.S., activists and scholars calling for massive decreases to police spending and deep, structural changes to the prison system have suddenly gained mainstream attention. To better understand the arguments for ‘defunding the police’ and abolishing prisons, explore this list of essential reading curated by political scientist Megan Ming Francis.

What Abolitionists Do

Dan Berger, Mariame Kaba, and David Stein • Jacobin

Prison abolitionists aren’t naive dreamers. They’re organizing for concrete reforms, animated by a radical critique of state violence.

Amnesty or Abolition?

Kelly Lytle Hernandez • Boom: A Journal of California

Felons, illegals, and the case for a new abolition movement.

Freedom to Thrive: Reimagining Safety and Security in Our Communities

The Center for Popular Democracy

Over the last 30 years, at both the national and local levels, governments have dramatically increased their spending on criminalization, policing, and mass incarceration while drastically cutting investments in basic infrastructure and slowing investment in social safety net programs.

Radical Imagination: Police Abolition (Podcast)

Radical Imagination

As cases of police abuse and misconduct gain attention, activists have moved beyond calls for reform to advocate for the abolition of police. It’s a controversial and widely misunderstood idea. How would police abolition work, exactly? How would we protect public safety? Radical Imagination host Angela Glover Blackwell explores these questions with humanitarian hip-hop artist Jessica Disu, a.k.a. FM Supreme, who has publicly called for police abolition.

Justice in America: Mariame Kaba and Prison Abolition (Podcast)

The Appeal

Josie and Clint discuss prison abolition with Mariame Kaba, one of the leading organizers in the fight against America’s criminal legal system and a contributing editor for The Appeal. Mariame discusses her own journey into this work, provides perspective on the leaders in this space, and helps us reimagine what the future of this system could look like.

About the curator

Megan Ming Francis is a Visiting Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. She is author of the award-winning book Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State (2014) and is currently at work on a second book project that examines the role of convict leasing in the rebuilding of southern political power and modern capitalism after the Civil War.

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