Prison abolition

Our work is based on a prison abolitionist politic, or the idea of ending all jails, prisons, and incarceration. This page has background reading and resources for people interested in learning more about prison abolition.


Culture of Resistance: Solidarity and prison abolition
A list of resources, including printable zines on abolition and several videos. (link is not working as of 2/1/15)

Chicago PIC Collective
Popular education resources to dismantle the PIC.

No One is Disposable: Resources and context for a conversation on prison abolition
Barnard Center for Research on Women compiled this reference on videos on prison abolition and a discussion between abolitionist scholars, including definitions.

Prison Activist Resource Center (PARC)
PARC is a prison abolitionist group based on Oakland, California committed to exposing and challenging the institutionalized racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, and classism of the Prison Industrial Complex.

Prison Abolition Course Syllabus
By Black & Pink, an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. Their work toward the abolition of the prison industrial complex is rooted in the experience of currently and formerly incarcerated people. Prison abolition & alternatives is a collective working in support of prisoners and prison justice activism in Canada.

Stuff queer people need to know: Prison abolition
A list of links to prison abolition organizations, projects, and other resources.

Undoing Borders Zine
Undoing Borders is a collective writing project by queer people organizing together in the San Francisco Bay Area.’

A paper by Devah Pager, The Mark of a Criminal Record

Instead of Prisons: A Handbook for Abolitionists

Abolition Now!
A zine by Critical Resistance


Abolition Journal: Manifesto for Abolition
By Abolition: A journal of insurgent politics.

Angela Davis on Prison Abolition
Video clip from Democracy Now from March 6, 2014 of author and activist Angela Davis on prison abolition, the war on drugs, and social movements.

A Call for the Abolition of Prisons
By Tiyo Attallah Salah El, from Prisons and Punishment: Reconsidering Global Penalty edited by Mechthild Nagel and Seth N. Asumah, Africa World Press, 2006.

INCITE! Critical Resistance Statement on gender violence and the PIC
By INCITE! Women, Gender Non-Conforming, and Trans people of Color Against Violence.


At UW-Madison and Madison Public libraries:

Alexander, Michelle (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press.

Ayers, William (1998). A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court. Boston: Beacon Press.

Goffman, Alice (2014). On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Herivel, Tara and Paul Wright (2002). Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America’s Poor. New York: Routledge.

Pager, Devah (2009). Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in An Era of Mass Incarceration. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Parenti, Christian (2008, new edition). Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis. London: Verso.

Perkinson, Robert (2010). Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire (ALSO IN LARGE PRINT). New York: Picador.

Simon, Jonathan (2009). Governing through Crime. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Stanley, Eric A., and Nat Smith, eds. (2011). Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex. Oakland, CA: AK Press. Read a chapter by Erica Meiners, “Awful Acts and the Trouble with Normal

Just at Madison Public libraries:

Davis, Angela (2003). Are Prisons Obsolete?.

Just at UW-Madison libraries:

Aherns, Lois (2008). The Real Cost of Prisons Comix. PM Press.

Conrad, Ryan, ed. (2012). Against Equality: Prisons Will Not Protect You. Lewiston, ME: Against Equality Press.

Davis, Angela (2005). Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture.

Dayan, Colin (2013). The Law Is a White Dog.

Feeley, Malcolm (1992). The Process is the Punishment.

Gilmore, Ruth Wilson (2007). Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California.

James, Joy, ed (2005). The New Abolitionists: (Neo) slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison Writings.

Law, Victoria (2009). Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women.

Loyd, Jenna M., Matt Mitchelson, and Andrew Burridge, eds. (2012). Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Prison Research Education Action Project (2005). Instead of Prisons: A Handbook for Abolitionists.  Oakland: AK Press. (1976 edition is available)

Rodriguez, Dylan (2005). Forced Passages: Imprisoned Radical Intellectuals and the US Prison Regime.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Spade, Dean (2011). Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of the Law.  Cambridge, MA: South End Press.

Sudbury, Julia (2005). Global Lockdown: Race, Gender, and the Prison Industrial Complex.

Wacquant, Loic. (2009) Punishing the Poor.

Western, Bruce (2006). Punishment and Inequality in America.

Not in either system, but worth knowing about:

CR-10 Publications Collective, ed. (2008). Abolition Now! Ten Years of Strategy and Struggle against the Prison Industrial Complex. Oakland: AK Press.

Simon, Jonathan (2014). Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America. New York: New Press. (HOT OFF THE PRESS)

Wacquant, Loic (2009). Prisons of Poverty.


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