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Reimagining Justice: A Primer on Defunding the Police and Prison Abolition

Political scientist Dr. Megan Ming Francis offers insight into the movements to ‘defund the police’ and abolish the prison system.

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As demonstrations against racial injustice and police misconduct sweep the U.S., activists and scholars calling for massive decreases to police spending and deep, structural changes to the prison system have suddenly gained mainstream attention. To better understand the arguments for ‘defunding the police’ and abolishing prisons, explore this list of essential reading curated by political scientist Dr. Megan Ming Francis.

What Abolitionists Do

Dan BergerMariame KabaDavid Stein

Prison abolitionists aren’t naive dreamers. They’re organizing for concrete reforms, animated by a radical critique of state violence.

Radical Imagination: Police Abolition [LISTEN]

Radical Imagination

As cases of police abuse and misconduct gain attention, activists have moved beyond calls for reform to advocate for the abolition of police. It’s a controversial and widely misunderstood idea. How would police abolition work, exactly? How would we protect public safety? Radical Imagination host Angela Glover Blackwell explores these questions with humanitarian hip-hop artist Jessica Disu, a.k.a. FM Supreme, who has publicly called for police abolition.

Justice in America: Mariame Kaba and Prison Abolition [LISTEN]

The Appeal

Josie and Clint discuss prison abolition with Mariame Kaba, one of the leading organizers in the fight against America’s criminal legal system and a contributing editor for The Appeal. Mariame discusses her own journey into this work, provides perspective on the leaders in this space, and helps us reimagine what the future of this system could look like.

Dr. Megan Ming Francis

Dr. Megan Ming Francis is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington and previously a Visiting Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School (2019-2020). She is author of the award-winning book Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State (2014). At the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Dr. Francis will be working on her next book project ‘How to Fund a Movement’ which examines the history and future of philanthropy’s complicated relationship with social movements.