Abolition: Imagining a Decarceral Future

This course will explore abolition theory and abolitionist movements for change (praxis). The nationwide demonstrations following George Floyd's killing in 2020 increased attention and public calls for transformational reforms to law enforcement and the criminal legal system. Some of efforts have centered abolition in their calls for transformative change. These calls reflect the frustration that activists have had with the ongoing harms of legal reforms and the failure of such reforms to end ongoing police and state violence, particularly against Black people, but also against Latino/a, indigenous, disabled, and transgendered communities. In this course, we will focus our analysis and discussion on the objectives and methods of those pushing for transformative change and abolition. We will explore the tensions and choices made between reformist and abolitionist efforts; abolitionist methodology, including its historical analysis of race-, gender-, disability- and class-based subordination, racial capitalism, and settler colonialism; ways to evaluate the success of these movements for transformative change; current and potential failures and/or backlash; and the viability of policies and practices that can be characterized as abolitionist, or non-reformist reforms. Through writing, in-class presentations, and class discussion, this course invites you to imagine pathways and methodologies toward abolition, reflect on such efforts, and/or offer critiques of current abolitionist efforts.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:
In-class participation (including a presentation) - 25% 5,000-word final paper (including an outline with identified sources and a rough draft) - 75%