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Abolition: A World without Prisons & Police

What is abolition?


Abolitionist organizers offer varying and shifting definitions--there is not one 'right,' stable way to define abolition and abolitionism.

Critical Resistance, a foundational abolitionist collective formed in the Bay Area, California, in 1997, defines the prison industrial complex (PIC) and PIC abolition as follows:

"The prison industrial complex (PIC) is a term we use to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.

Through its reach and impact, the PIC helps and maintains the authority of people who get their power through racial, economic and other privileges. There are many ways this power is collected and maintained through the PIC, including creating mass media images that keep alive stereotypes of people of color, poor people, queer people, immigrants, youth, and other oppressed communities as criminal, delinquent, or deviant. This power is also maintained by earning huge profits for private companies that deal with prisons and police forces; helping earn political gains for “tough on crime” politicians; increasing the influence of prison guard and police unions; and eliminating social and political dissent by oppressed communities that make demands for self-determination and reorganization of power in the US.

PIC abolition is a political vision with the goal of eliminating imprisonment, policing, and surveillance and creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment.

From where we are now, sometimes we can’t really imagine what abolition is going to look like. Abolition isn’t just about getting rid of buildings full of cages. It’s also about undoing the society we live in because the PIC both feeds on and maintains oppression and inequalities through punishment, violence, and controls millions of people. Because the PIC is not an isolated system, abolition is a broad strategy. An abolitionist vision means that we must build models today that can represent how we want to live in the future. It means developing practical strategies for taking small steps that move us toward making our dreams real and that lead us all to believe that things really could be different. It means living this vision in our daily lives.

Abolition is both a practical organizing tool and a long-term goal."

Critical Resistance. "What is the PIC? What is Abolition?" Accessed March 29, 2023.


police abolition 101 messages when facing doubts

Police Abolition 101: Messages When Facing Doubts.

"Police Abolition 101 is a collaborative zine based on material by MPD 150 ( and on a report titled "What's Next?" edited by Interrupting Criminalization and Project NIA. It was illustrated and designed by Noah Jodice ( You can find the "What's Next? Safer and More Just Communities Without Policing" report here:




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