Books written on the topic of abolition and incarceration in the United States.
Books that offer a good introduction for those newer to the abolitionist movement are notated with asterisks.
*** We Do This 'Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice ***
“A reflection on prison industrial complex abolition and a vision for collective liberation from organizer and educator Mariame Kaba.”
*** Are Prisons Obsolete ***
“A short, impassioned, argument for abolition. Davis eloquently points out that mass incarceration has had little or no effect on crime, how disproportionate numbers of the poor and minorities end up in prison, and the obscene profits the system generates. Who needs it!”
*** An Abolitionist's Handbook: 12 Steps to Changing Yourself and the World ***
In AN ABOLITIONIST’S HANDBOOK, Cullors charts a framework for how everyday activists can effectively fight for an abolitionist present and future. Filled with relatable pedagogy on the history of abolition, a reimagining of what reparations look like for Black lives and real-life anecdotes from Cullors AN ABOLITIONIST’S HANDBOOK offers a bold, innovative, and humanistic approach to how to be a modern-day abolitionist. Cullors asks us to lead with love, fierce compassion, and precision.
Making Abolitionist Worlds: Proposals for a World on Fire:
Abolition Collective (Editor)
“What does an abolitionist world look like? Insights from today’s international abolitionist movement reveal a world to win.”
Abolishing the Police
Koshka Duff (Author); Cat Sims (Illustrator)
Abolishing the Police (an illustrated introduction) is both a contribution to this conversation and an invitation to join it. It provides rigorous and accessible analyses of why we might want to abolish the police, what abolishing them would involve, and how it might be achieved, introducing readers to the rich existing traditions of anti-police theory and practice.
Abolition for the People: The Movement for a Future without Policing and Prisons
Colin Kaepernick (Editor); Mariame Kaba (Contributor); Angela Y. Davis (Contributor); Derecka Purnell (Contributor); Dean Spade (Contributor)
Abolition for the People brings together thirty essays representing a diversity of voices―political prisoners, grassroots organizers, scholars, and relatives of those killed by the anti-Black terrorism of policing and prisons. This collection presents readers with a moral choice: “Will you continue to be actively complicit in the perpetuation of these systems,” Kaepernick asks in his introduction, “or will you take action to dismantle them for the benefit of a just future?”
Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests, and the Pursuit of Freedom
Derecka Purnell (Author)
“For more than a century, activists in the United States have tried to reform the police. From community policing initiatives to increasing diversity, none of it has stopped the police from killing about three people a day. Millions of people continue to protest police violence because these ‘solutions’ do not match the problem: the police cannot be reformed.”
*** The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness ***
“The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement.”
Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement
Ejeris Dixon (Editor); Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Editor)
“Transformative justice seeks to solve the problem of violence at the grassroots level, without relying on punishment, incarceration, or policing. Community-based approaches to preventing crime and repairing its damage have existed for centuries. However, in the putative atmosphere of contemporary criminal justice systems, they are often marginalized and operate under the radar. Beyond Survival puts these strategies front and center as real alternatives to today’s failed models of confinement and ‘correction.’”
Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
James Forman Jr.
“Former public defender James Forman, Jr. is a leading critic of mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people of color. In “Locking Up Our Own'', he seeks to understand the war on crime that began in the 1970s and why it was supported by many African American leaders in the nation’s urban centers.”
All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing, and the Feminist Fight to End Violence
Emily L. Thuma
“A grassroots history of resistance to gender violence and the carceral state.”
QUEER (IN)JUSTICE: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States
Joey L. Mogul,Andrea J. Ritchie,Kay Whitlock
“A groundbreaking work that turns a “queer eye” on the criminal legal system, Queer (In)Justice is a searing examination of queer experiences as “suspects,” defendants, prisoners, and survivors of crime. The authors unpack queer criminal archetypes like “gleeful gay killers,” “lethal lesbians,” “disease spreaders,” and “deceptive gender benders ” to illustrate the punishment of queer expression, regardless of whether a crime was ever committed. Tracing stories from the streets to the bench to behind prison bars, they prove that the policing of sex and gender both bolsters and reinforces racial and gender inequalities.”
The Abolition of Prison
Jacques Lesage de La Haye (Author); Scott Branson (Translator)
“The Abolition of Prison provides a reflection from a longtime prison abolitionist on the ideas, actions, and writings of anti-prison activism over the last fifty years. This book powerfully makes the case for the end of prisons, punishment, and guilt and, instead, suggests we work towards social change, care, collectivity, and ending regimes of repression and violence.”
Abolishing Carceral Society
“Abolishing Carceral Society presents the bold voices and inspiring visions of today’s revolutionary abolitionist movements struggling against capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism, ecological crisis, prisons, and borders”
A World Without Police: How Strong Communities Make Cops Obsolete
Geo Maher (Author)
Tens of millions of people poured onto the streets for Black Lives Matter, bringing with them a wholly new idea of public safety, common security, and the delivery of justice, communicating that vision in the fiery vernacular of riot, rebellion, and protest. A World Without Police transcribes these new ideas—written in slogans and chants, over occupied bridges and hastily assembled barricades—into a compelling, must-read manifesto for police abolition.
Disability Incarcerated. Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada
Editors: Liat Ben-MosheChris Chapman Allison C. Carey
“Disability Incarcerated gathers thirteen contributions from an impressive array of fields. Taken together, these essays assert that a complex understanding of disability is crucial to an understanding of incarceration, and that we must expand what has come to be called 'incarceration.' The chapters in this book examine a host of sites, such as prisons, institutions for people with developmental disabilities, psychiatric hospitals, treatment centers, special education, detention centers, and group homes; explore why various sites should be understood as incarceration; and discuss the causes and effects of these sites historically and currently. This volume includes a preface by Professor Angela Y. Davis and an afterword by Professor Robert McRuer.”
Feminist Accountability: Disrupting Violence and Transforming Power
“What does it take to build communities to stand up to injustice and create social change? How do we work together to transform, without reproducing, systems of violence and oppression?In an age when feminism has become increasingly mainstream, noted feminist scholar and activist Ann Russo asks feminists to consider the ways that our own behavior might contribute to the interlocking systems of oppression that we aim to dismantle.”
Worse Than Slavery
David M. Oshinsky
"Worse Than Slavery" is an epic history of race and punishment in the deepest South from emancipation to the civil rights era - and beyond.
Creative Interventions Workbook: Effective Tools to Stop Interpersonal Violence
Creative Interventions (Author)
The Creative Interventions Workbook features useful and effective tools and exercises aimed for survivors of interpersonal violence, friends/family who want to help, and people who caused harm. This companion textto the Creative Interventions Toolkit, also published by AK Press, provides grounded, hands-on lessons to help readers confront and end interpersonal violence of all sorts—sexual, domestic, family, and more. Together they form the feminist bedrock texts for the emerging framework of transformative justice.
Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People’s Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time
“Drawing on a growing body of academic and professional work, Understanding Mass Incarceration describes in plain English the many competing theories of criminal justice—from rehabilitation to retribution, from restorative justice to justice reinvestment. In a lively and accessible style, author James Kilgore illuminates the difference between prisons and jails, probation and parole, laying out key concepts and policies such as the War on Drugs, broken windows policing, three-strikes sentencing, the school-to-prison pipeline, recidivism, and prison privatization. Informed by the crucial lenses of race and gender, he addresses issues typically omitted from the discussion: the rapidly increasing incarceration of women, Latinos, and transgender people; the growing imprisonment of immigrants; and the devastating impact of mass incarceration on communities.”
Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
In this brilliant and influential work, Foucault suggests that such vaunted reforms as the abolition of torture and the emergence of the modern penitentiary have merely shifted the focus of punishment from the prisoner’s body to his soul.
Bird Uncaged: An Abolitionist's Freedom Song
Marlon Peterson grew up in 1980s Crown Heights, raised by Trinidadian immigrants. Amid the routine violence that shaped his neighborhood, Marlon became a high-achieving and devout child, the specter of the American dream opening up before him. But in the aftermath of immense trauma, he participated in a robbery that resulted in two murders. At nineteen, Peterson was charged and later convicted. He served ten long years in prison. While incarcerated, Peterson immersed himself in anti-violence activism, education, and prison abolition work.
Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms
Maya Schenwar, Victoria Law
Electronic monitoring. Locked-down drug treatment centers. House arrest. Mandated psychiatric treatment. Data driven surveillance. Extended probation. These are some of the key alternatives held up as cost effective substitutes for jails and prisons. But in a searing, “cogent critique” (Library Journal), Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law reveal that many of these so-called reforms actually weave in new strands of punishment and control, bringing new populations who would not otherwise have been subject to imprisonment under physical control by the state.
Abolition. Feminism. Now.
Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, Erica R. Meiners, and Beth E. Richie
As a politic and a practice, abolition increasingly shapes our political moment — halting the construction of new jails and propelling movements to divest from policing. Yet erased from this landscape are not only the central histories of feminist — usually queer, anti-capitalist, grassroots, and women of color - organizing that continue to cultivate abolition but a recognition of the stark reality: abolition is our best response to endemic forms of state and interpersonal gender and sexual violence. Amplifying the analysis and the theories of change generated from vibrant community based organizing, Abolition. Feminism. Now. surfaces necessary historical genealogies, key internationalist learnings, and everyday practices to grow our collective and flourishing present and futures.
Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex
Eric A. Stanley(Editor), Nat Smith (Editor)
Pathologized, terrorized, and confined, trans/gender non-conforming and queer folks have always struggled against the enormity of the prison industrial complex. The first collection of its kind, Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith bring together current and former prisoners, activists, and academics to offer new ways for understanding how race, gender, ability, and sexuality are lived under the crushing weight of captivity. Through a politic of gender self-determination, this collection argues that trans/queer liberation and prison abolition must be grown together. From rioting against police violence and critiquing hate crimes legislation to prisoners demanding access to HIV medications, and far beyond, Captive Genders is a challenge for us all to join the struggle.
Essays on the contemporary continuum of incarceration: the biopolitics of juvenile delinquency, predatory policing, the political economy of fees and fines, and algorithmic policing.
Change Everything: Racial Capitalism and the Case for Abolition
Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Racial, gender, and environmental justice. Class war. Militarism. Interpersonal violence. Old age security. This is not the vocabulary many use to critique the prison-industrial complex. But in this series of powerful lectures, Ruth Wilson Gilmore shows that the only way to dismantle systems and logics of control and punishment is to change questions, categories, and campaigns from the ground up. 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.