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Futures

Abolitionist Social Work

Social work must be anti-carceral, against oppression, and committed to ending the systems, structures, and ideologies that cause people harm.

The Network to Advance Abolitionist Social Work

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Policing

Safety Without Police

Even before the uprisings in Minneapolis, communities have been radically reimagining a world that doesn’t depend on policing.

Michelle Phelps

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Q&A

Picturing the Crisis

A new book uses art to make the horrors of mass incarceration as visual, and visceral, as possible.

Vic Liu, James Kilgore & Adam McGee

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Mill FireLocated near Butte Meadows off State Route 32

New Series

Carceral Geographies

Essays exploring how mass incarceration shapes, and is shaped by, our shared world and built spaces. Click below to read Sebastian Miller on how incarcerated firefighters are no less imprisoned than their peers.

Read “The Phantom Prison”

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Every Saturday, we’ll send you a digest with the latest essays from people thinking through and working for a world without mass incarceration.

 

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Surveillance

For the Public Good

While on parole in Oregon, homelessness, unemployment, and lack of services kept me in survival mode. This is not public safety.

Wesley Vaughan

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organizing

Letcher Is Us

A new prison won’t fix the many problems that afflict our community. Only a vision for, and investment in, a different future will.

Artie Ann Bates

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culture

A Narrative of Control

Mass incarceration rests on false narratives that carceral institutions themselves control. But some of us are fighting back.

Lyle C. May

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From ‘Abolition in Action’:

For the People’s Health

For the final installment of our series exploring how people are practicing abolition in their communities, a look at how public health is now central to decarceral efforts.

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in conversation

Unlocking Learning

Education is integral to centering the holistic well-being of incarcerated people.

Mneesha Gellman & Daven McQueen

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first person

The Banality of Mandatory Surcharges

In New York and elsewhere, exploitative court-ordered fees shouldn’t saddle a person who is already poor and criminalized.

Eric Paris Whitfield

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A closer look

Graying in Prison

There’s no aging with dignity for people serving extreme sentences. Freeing them is only a start to a deeper paradigm shift.

Wayne Pray

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voices

National Poetry Month: Amos Don

Amos Don

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voices

National Poetry Month: Brandon Callender

Brandon Callender

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voices

National Poetry Month: Alexander Gallet

Alexander Gallet

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voices

National Poetry Month: Wayne Grant

Wayne Grant

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abolition

How We Rode the Storm

After Hurricane Katrina, law enforcement criminalized sex work and Black women like never before. We fought back—and won.

Laura McTighe & Women With A Vision

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campaigns

Disrupting Carceral Narratives

There can be justice beyond punishment. To realize it, we must challenge the narrative that carceral violence is the only response to other forms of violence.

Charlene Allen & Cameron Rasmussen

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excerpt

Unmaking Prison Walls

Reacquainting ourselves with practices that made prisons more permeable can be a step toward ending mass incarceration.

Reiko Hillyer

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activism

Gay Liberation and the Carceral State

Recovering a vision of queer solidarity with incarcerated people may just be what people disaffected by the gay rights movement need today.

Michael Bronski

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campaigns

A Breakthrough on Solitary

Connecting it to the fight for disability rights has helped activists in California to make exciting progress in their effort to end solitary confinement.

Pamila Lew

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activism

Asymmetrical Partners

Activism must involve incarcerated people—but few outside advocates really understand the dangers and limitations that imprisoned organizers face.

Ivan Kilgore, Paula Lehman-Ewing & Glenn E. Martin

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Policing

‘I’m Just Different, That’s All’

We embrace nonconformity in principle—but not for Black men, whose quirks can provoke fear, policing, and punishment.

Monica Bell

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In Depth

Sticking with the Sex

From sex work to sex offender registries, a queer politics requires that we end state practices of sex exceptionalism.

Joseph J. Fischel

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advocacy

Back to Appalachia

They were incarcerated in Eastern Kentucky, far from home. Now they’re free and back, hoping the region won’t build a new prison there.

Katie Myers

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Series & Collections

Since our launch, we have published a number of essay series and collections examining drivers of and solutions to our crisis of mass incarceration. Find them all here.

Explore

campaigns

Renewing New Orleans

Anti-jail organizers scored important wins in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But their fight isn’t over.

Lydia Pelot-Hobbs

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excerpt

Dare to Report

The D.A.R.E. program turned students into snitches, leading to the arrest and incarceration of friends and loved ones who used drugs.

Max Felker-Kantor

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activism

No Killing Revolutionary Hope

The oral histories of political prisoners shed light on their true character—and expose the darkness of the state.

Josh Davidson & Eric King

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interventions

Papers, Please

Reparations for historic wrongs require concrete action, and that’s no different for the untold harm caused by cannabis criminalization.

Adam Vine

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In Depth

How We Ended Wealth-Based Jailing

In Illinois, ending money bond was our target. Pretrial freedom is our goal.

Matthew McLoughlin

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In Depth

When ‘Community’ Isn’t Actually the Community

The crisis of youth incarceration won’t be solved by cynical attempts to co-opt the language of grassroots organizing.

Sarah Cate

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What we are reading

The Inquest bookshelf

A selection of recent books that invite us to imagine a world without mass incarceration.

Abolition, Vol. 1: Politics, Practices, Promises

by Angela Y. Davis

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Fire Dreams: Making Black Feminist Liberation in the South

by Laura McTighe & Women With a Vision

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The Jail Is Everywhere: Fighting the New Geography of Mass Incarceration

by Jack Norton, Lydia Pelot-Hobbs & Judah Schept

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Welcome the Wretched: In Defense of the “Criminal Alien”

by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández

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Crimmigration

Decriminalizing Migration

Taking criminal law out of immigration enforcement is a step toward safer, healthier communities. But is it enough?

Cristian Farias

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Big Data

Borders and Bytes

So-called “smart” borders are just more sophisticated sites of racialized surveillance and violence. We need abolitionist tools to counter them.

Ruha Benjamin

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Surveillance

In the Shadows, on the Radar

The lives of undocumented immigrants are very much documented—subject to the surveillance that’s endemic to contemporary life in the United States.

Asad L. Asad

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Policing

Unsafe on Campus

Policing on college campuses falls hardest on formerly incarcerated students, leaving them and the broader community unprotected.

Ryan Flaco Rising

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abolition

Abolishing the Family

The fight against police and prisons cannot be separated from the struggle to extend care beyond the limits of the family form.

Quinn Lester

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public history

The Long Revolt

Attica represents far more than a historic rebellion about prison reform. Its revolutionary abolitionist vision endures today.

Orisanmi Burton

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inquestcaptivelabor

Series

CAPTIVE LABOR

A collection of essays at the intersection of labor and the carceral state, in partnership with LPE Blog.

Read the essays

Past, Present & Future of Mass Incarceration

book review

Cages Without Borders

A new book centers prisons in the history of U.S. empire, reminding us of the need for international solidarity in the fight for freedom.

Stuart Schrader

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first person

Learning to Live

For incarcerated people, prison education programs can offer not only knowledge but also hope that a different future is possible.

Alexander X

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Reflections

Yearning to Go Home

Life-without-parole sentences hit families especially hard. Yet they fight on, committed to their loved ones’ freedom.

Kunlyna Tauch & Abigail Higgins

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advocacy

Philly’s Safe Consumption Fight

Public skepticism about scientific research, coupled with echoes of the war on drugs, have hindered our city’s ability to respond to our overdose crisis.

Shoshana Aronowitz

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Futures

No More Family Policing

Black, Brown, Indigenous, disabled, and poor children and their families bear the brunt of a system that many now agree should be dismantled.

Eleanor Bader

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