Learning about Police & Prison Abolition

Resource list

On the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, we have put together this list of inspiring organisations and thinkers leading the movement for police and prison abolition both in the UK and the USA.

We’re releasing this list today alongside a Free Palestine resource page because we recognise that this terrible anniversary, falling at a time of escalated violence in Israel and Palestine, offers a chance to observe and consider the links between the ‘carceral logics’ (i.e. the variety of ways people’s bodies, minds, and actions have been shaped by the idea and practices of imprisonment) of both police power and imperialist/ colonial power, and how these powers are interwoven and mutually reinforcing.

UK-based abolition campaigns

  • Abolitionist Futures is a UK collaboration of community organisers and activists working together to build a future without prisons, police and punishment. They have put together a comprehensive resource bank and reading list including this great piece by Sarah Lamble on undoing carceral logics, “Practising Everyday Abolition”.
  • Community Action on Prison Expansion Campaign (CAPE) is a network of grassroots groups fighting prison expansion in England, Wales and Scotland. They reject the myths that prisons, surveillance and policing can solve social and economic problems, and seek alternatives that keep communities safe and achieve real social justice. Listen to their excellent No Prisons podcast here.
  • An illuminating Novara Media podcast with Mark Neocleous looks over the evolution and design of police power alongside the criminalisation of working class and subsistence ways of life through history.
  • The New Economics Foundation produced an excellent podcast episode, ‘Do Police and Prisons Keep Us Safe?’, featuring Dr Adam Elliott-Cooper. Check out their resource list on the same page. 
  • London youth-led organisation Account monitors and scrutinises police activity. It aims to empower young people and hold those in power to account – with young people leading research projects, and carrying out campaign work and political activism for community healing and institutional change.

Leading USA voices in the fight for abolition

On prison & white supremacy in the US and the UK

  • Ava DuVernay’s film, 13th (available on Netflix) accessibly articulates the foundational, historic and ongoing connections between prison and slavery.
  • Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrice Khan-Cullors’ memoir When They Call You A Terrorist demonstrates the ways in which the police and prison systems in the USA are used to reify white supremacy and terrorise and harm Black communities.
  • UK-based community advocacy organisation The United Families & Friends Campaign (UFFC) is a coalition of those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody. Since 1990, almost 2000 people have died in England and Wales after contact with the police – yet no officer has been held to account. 

Ecological and climate justice arguments for abolition

Visions of transformative justice