Imagine a society without police, prosecutors, courts, and prisons: what does it look like? Over the last few decades, a growing abolitionist movement has been calling for the abolition of these institutions while offering alternative visions for creating safe and thriving communities, re-shaping public policy, and experimenting with building an infrastructure of care, support, stability, accountability, and healing from harm. Building on last year’s Myths of Public Safety theme, this fall we explored the theory and praxis behind abolition of the prison industrial complex.

We were joined by guests who have thought deeply about abolition, including many who have spent years studying, experimenting with, and enacting abolitionist politics and community safety initiatives that do not rely on surveillance, policing, prosecution, or incarceration. Through discussions about lived experience and organizing, innovative research, critical theory, and public policy we hope to guide policymakers, practitioners, advocates, researchers, and community members in envisioning new practices, procedures, and policies to bring about safe and thriving communities for all. How would our institutions, our communities, our relationships to one another, and our norms have to change to build safety outside of criminalization and punishment? Our intention is to inspire deeper thinking about research, policy, and ways of making sense of abolitionist project(s).

September 6, 2023
What makes and keeps communities safe? Abolition of the Prison Industrial Complex as Theory and Praxis
Guest: Rachel Herzing

September 27, 2023
Abolition of Policing: Intervention and Investment in Human Needs
Guest: Alex Vitale

October 11, 2023
Criminal Courts and the Abolition Movement
Guests: Matthew Clair & Amanda Woog

October 18, 2023
Collective Contestation: Building Community Power toward Abolition, within and Beyond Criminal Court
Guests: Jocelyn Simonson, Tracy McCarter, and Rachel Foran

October 25, 2023
Toward Prison Abolition: Redress, Repair, and Transforming Harm in Community 
Guest: Danielle Sered

November 8, 2023
The Promise of Reform: A Philosopher’s Critique of Prison Abolition
Guest: Tommie Shelby

December 6, 2023
Envisioning and Enacting Abolitionist Futures: A Screening and Discussion of One Million Experiments
Guests: Mariame Kaba & Eva Nagao

The Abolitionist Politics, Practices, and Horizons  speaker series is organized by Katy Naples-Mitchell, Program Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, and  Sandra Susan Smith, Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice; Faculty Director, Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management; Director, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy; Professor of Sociology; and Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute.