Reading List


Welcome to the ICOPA-18 Abolition Reading Group. We will meet once a month, from February to May to discuss various readings on the theme of prison abolition. Participants are encouraged to attend all sessions, but you are welcome to attend one, some or all of the sessions.

The suggested readings have been chosen to offer a variety of perspectives and analyses, and to cover some key concepts and themes. The readings have also been selected as community organising and movement building tools – i.e. to help inform collective abolitionist strategy and practice in the lead-up to the conference.

The suggested reading list is not exhaustive and inevitably has many gaps and limitations. This is both because it is not possible to cover everything within four weeks, but also because some readings were chosen to reflect specific interests and themes that have arisen during the conference organising. But if you have suggestions for other readings, please let us know.

Depending on the interests, priorities and suggestions of those who attend the group, some readings may change. Any updates will be posted on the website at least two weeks before the next reading group meet-up.

The readings are available below as online links. You can also download a PDF version of the reading list here.  If you need the readings in a different format, please let us know and we will do our best to provide them in the format you require. The venue is wheelchair accessible and hearing loops are available upon request. If you face other accessibility barriers, please let us know so we can support your full participation.


Session 1: Introduction to penal abolition
6-8pm Tuesday 13 February 2018

Venue: Birkbeck, University of London
Room 631, Main Building, Birkbeck, Torrington Square, Bloomsbury
The main building is number 1 on this map .


  1. Davis, Angela. (2003) ‘Introduction: Prison Reform or Prison Abolition?; Are Prisons Obsolete? New York: Seven Stories Press, P. 9-21. Available from: [12 pages]
  2. Critical Resistance. (no date) What is Abolition? Available from: [1 page]
  3. Prison Research Education Action Project (1976) ‘Nine Perspectives for Prison Abolitionists’, & ‘Diminishing / Dismantling the Prison System,’ from Instead of Prisons: A Handbook for Abolitionists. Available from: & [2 pages + 5 pages].
  4. ICOPA – Targets of Abolitionism. Available from: [2 pages]

Note: If you’ve already read Angela Davis’ book, this is recommended to read instead:

Ryder, Oonagh. (2018) What does Justice Look like Without Prisons? Available from: [7 pages]

Further reading:

Ben-Moshe, L. (2014) Alternatives to (Disability) Incarceration. In: Ben-Moshe, L., Chapman, C. and Carey, A. C. (eds.) Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.255-271

Gilmore, R. W. (2005) From Military Industrial Complex to Prison Industrial Complex: Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore in conversation with Trevor Paglen. Recording Carceral Landscapes Project. Available from:

Larson, Mike (2011) ‘Considering Abolition,’ Rittenhouse Just Blog. Available from:

Ryan, M. and Sim, J. (2007) Campaigning for and campaigning against prisons: excavating and reaffirming the case for prison abolition. In: Jewkes, Y. (ed.) Handbook on Prisons. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing, pp.696-718.

Sudbury, J. (2000) Transatlantic Visions: Resisting the Globalization of Mass Incarceration. Social Justice 27 (3), pp.133-149.

Ware, S., Ruzsa, J. and Dias, G. (2014) It Can’t Be Fixed Because It’s Not Broken: Racism and Disability in the Prison Industrial Complex. In: Ben-Moshe, L., Chapman, C. and Carey, A. C. (eds.) Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.163-184.

Witlock, Kay (2016) Prison Reform Misdirection: 5 Caveats About Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration


Session 2: What’s wrong with reform? What are non-reformist reforms?
6-8pm Tuesday 27 March 2018

Venue: Birkbeck, University of London (specific room to be confirmed).


  1. Berger, Dan and Mariame Kaba and David Stein (2017). ‘What Abolitionists do,’ Jacobin Magazine Available from: [5 pages]
  2. Naomi Murakawa & #BlackLivesMatter: Liberals, Guns and the Roots of the U.S. Prison Explosion (2015). The Laura Flanders Show. Available from: 0:28-14:25 [14 minutes]
    *Note: For the purpose of the abolition versus reform discussion, the first 14 minutes are key, but if you have time, the first 21 minutes are recommended.
  3. Ben-Moshe, L. (2013) The Tension Between Abolition and Reform. In: Nagel, M. E. and Nocella, A. J. (eds.) The End of Prisons: Reflections from the Decarceration Movement. Amsterdam: Value Inquriy Book Series, pp.83-92. Available from: [11 pages]
  4. Mariame Kaba, ‘Police “Reforms” You Should Always Oppose’ Truth-Out. Available from: [1 page]

Further reading:

Carlen, Pat (2012) Against Rehabilitation: For Reparative Justice. A transcript of the 2012 Eve Saville lecture given by Professor Pat Carlen to the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies on 6 November 2012 Available from:

Dukmasova, Maya (2016) ‘Abolish the police? Organizers say its less crazy than it seems’. Chicago Reader. Available from:

Gilmore, Ruth Wilson (2012) ‘Don’t reform prisons, abolish them’. Video of remarks at CT Coaltion to Stop Indefinite Detention. Available from:

Gilmore, Ruth Wilson (2015) ‘The Economy of Incarceration.’ Interview on the Laura Flanders Show.

Law, Victoria (2011) Protection without Police: North American Community Responses to Violence in the 1970s and Today. Upping the Anti. Available from:

Moore, John (2016) Prisons cannot be places of rehabilitation.

Sudbury, J. (2009) Reform or abolition? Using popular mobilisations to dismantle the ‘prison-industrial complex’ Criminal Justice Matters 77 (1), pp.26 – 28. Available from:‘prison [2 pages]

Walia, Harsha (2013) Undoing Border Imperialism AK Press.



Session 3: Feminist, queer, antiracist approaches to abolition
6-8pm Tuesday 17 April 2018

Venue: Birkbeck, University of London (specific room to be confirmed)


  1. Critical Resistance and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence (2008) Statement on Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial Complex. In: Critical Resistance (ed.) Abolition Now! Ten Years of Strategy and Struggle Against the Prison Industrial Complex. Oakland, California: AK Press, pp. 21-25. Available from: [5 pages].
  2. Sudbury, Julia (2006) ‘Rethinking Antiviolence Strategies: Lessons from the Black Women’s Movement in Britain’ in Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology 13-24. Available from [12 pages]
  3. Richie, Beth. (2014) ‘How Anti-Violence Activism Taught Me to Become a Prison Abolitionist’ Available from: [2 pages]
  4. Bassichis, Morgan and Alexander Lee and Dean Space. (2011) ‘Building an Abolitionist Trans and Queer Movement with Everything We’ve Got’. In: Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, Oakland: AK Press, p.15-19 & 33-37. Available from: [10 pages]

Further suggested reading:

Brionde, J. (2017) Navigating justice for sexual abuse survivors, when you’re a prison abolitionist and a survivor. Available from:

Conrad, Ryan (editor) (2012) Against Equality: Prisons will not Protect You. With Introduction by Dean Spade. AK Press.

Daniel-McCarter, D., Meiners, E. R. and Noll, R. (2017) Queer Disavowal: “Controversial” Crimes and Building Abolition. In: Halperin, D. M. and Hoppe, T. (eds.) The War on Sex. Durham & London: Duke University Press.

‘Decolonization Means Prison Abolition.’ Video of Law & Disorder Conference in Portland, 2012.

Incite! Women of Color against Violence (ed) (2006) Color of Violence: The Incite! Anthology. Cambridge, Massachusetts, South End Press.

Law, Victoria (2011) Resisting Gender Violence without Cops or Prisons [Interview] Available from:

Morris, Ruth (2000) Stories of Transformative Justice. Toronto, Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Ritchie, B. (2012) Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America’s Prison Nation. New York and London: New York University Press.

Russell, E. and Carlton, B. (2013) Pathways, race and gender responsive reform: Through an abolitionist lens. Theoretical Criminology 17 (4), pp.474-492.

Shaylor, Cassandra. (2009) Neither Kind Nor Gentle: The Perils of ‘Gender Responsive Justice’. In: Scraton, P. and McQulloch, J. (eds.) The Violence of Incarceration. London & New York: Routledge, p. 145-163. [18 pages] Avialable from:

Smith, A. (2009) Beyond Restorative Justice: Radical Organising Against Violence. In: Ptacek, J. (ed.) Restorative Justice and Violence Against Women. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, pp.255-278.

Spade, Dean & Reina Gossett (2014) No one is Disposable videos:

Stanley, E. A. and Smith, N. (eds.) (2011) Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex. Oakland, California: AK Press. Available from:

Stanley, Eric A. and Dean Spade, and Queer (In)Justice (2012) ‘Queering Prison Abolition, Now?’ American Quarterly. pp. 115-127. Available from:


Session 4: Transformative Justice & Abolition
6-8pm Tuesday 15 May 2018

Venue: Birkbeck, University of London (specific room to be confirmed)


  1. Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (2014) ‘Transformative Justice and Community Accountability’ Available from: [1 page]
  2. Aorta Collective (2013) ‘Punitive, Restorative & Transformative Justice: The basics’ [2 pages]
  3. Choose one case study:

Chrysalis Collective (2011) Beautiful, Difficult, Powerful: Ending Sexual Assault Through Transformative Justice. In: Chen, C.-I., Dulani, J. and Piepzna-Samarasinha, L. L. (eds.) The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities. Brooklyn, NY: South End Press, pp.188-205. Available from: [18 pages]


Jashnani, G., Maccani, R. and Greig, A. (2011) What does it feel like when change finally comes? Male Supremacy, Accountability & Transformative Justice. In: Chen, C.-I., Dulani, J. and Piepzna-Samarasinha, L. L. (eds.) The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities. Brooklyn, NY: South End Press, pp.216-234. [22 pages]

  1. GenerationFive (2017) ‘Community Response and Accountability’ & ‘Transformation of Community and Social Conditions that Create and Perpetuate Violence’ in Ending Child Sexual Abuse: A Transformative Justice Handbook, p. 56-61 [Online]. Available at: [6 pages]

Further reading:

Chen, C.-I., Dulani and LaksmiPiepzna-Samarasinha, L. (2008) The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Partner Abuse in Activist Communities (‘zine). [Online]. Available at:

Chen, C.-I., Dulani, J. and Piepzna-Samarasinha, L. L. (eds.) (2011) The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities. [Book] Brooklyn, NY: South End Press.

Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA) (2008) ‘Taking Risks: Implementing grassroots community accountability strategies’ The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Partner Abuse in Activist Communities [‘zine], p. 64-79 Available from:

Community Accountability Resource List:

Creative Interventions (2012) Creative Interventions Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence [Pre-release version 06.2012]. [Online]. Available at:

Generation Five (2007) Toward Transformative Justice. Generation Five. Available from:

Kim, M. E. (2011) Moving Beyond Critique: Creative Interventions and Reconstructions of Community Accountability. Social Justice 37 (4), pp.14-35.

The Movement for Black Lives (2016) A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom & Justice; Available from:

Kelly, E. L. (2011) Philly Stands Up: Inside the Politics and Poetics of Transformative Justice and Community Accountability in Sexual Assault Situations. Social Justice 37 (4), pp.44-57.

Philly Stands Up & Benjamin Holtzman and Kevin Van Meter (2012) Furthering Transformative Justice, Building Healthy Communities: An Interview with Philly Stands Up . Available from:


Further Reading / Other Abolitionist Reading Lists:

  1. Black Perspectives: Prison Abolition Syllabus
  2. Prison Industrial Complex Essential Reading
  3. Black & Pink Prison Abolition Class:
  4. Bernard Centre for Research on Women: No One is Disposable Prison Abolition Reading List
  5. Transformative Justice Reading List
  6. Toronto Transformative Justice list
  7. Thinking Through the End of Policing
  8. Alternatives to Policing
  9. Critical Resistance – Addressing Harm, Accountability & Healing
  10. Critical Resistance – Abolish Policing Resources
  11. Bay Area Transformative Justice Reading lists:
  12. Against Equality: Queer Challenges to the politics of inclusion – Resources on Prison