COVID-19, Decarceration, and Abolition

Friday, Apr 24, 2020

How should abolitionists respond to the coronavirus pandemic?

How can we achieve urgently needed decarceration for the millions of people caged in jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers?

Abolitionism doesn’t just say no to police, prisons, border control, and the current punishment system. It requires persistent organizing for what we need, organizing that’s already present in the efforts people cobble together to achieve access to schools, health care and housing, art and meaningful work, and freedom from violence and want.

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Ruth Wilson Gilmore is Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at CUNY Graduate Center. A co-founder of California Prison Moratorium Project and Critical Resistance, she is author of the prize-winning book Golden Gulag: Prison, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California. Her forthcoming Haymarket Books title, Change Everything: Racial Capitalism and the Case for Abolition, is the inaugural book in the new Abolitionist Papers book series, edited by Naomi Murakawa.

Naomi Murakawa is an associate professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. She studies the reproduction of racial inequality in 20th and 21st century American politics, with specialization in crime policy and the carceral state. She is the author of The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America.

[Originally published on April 17, 2020 via Haymarket Books]

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