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Display Title: Pandemics of Violence - on prison abolition and decarceration

The phrase “pandemics of violence” appears in Angela Davis’ seminal work on prison abolition, Are Prisons Obsolete? In her discussion of abolitionist approaches and alternatives to incarceration, she refers to “the generalized tendency to punish people who are persecuted in their intimate lives as a direct consequence of pandemics of violence that continue to be legitimized by ideological and legal structures” (110-111). Prison abolition and the related though not synonymous term decarceration can be described variously as policies, movements, and approaches. They aim to depopulate prisons and/or to eliminate modes of incarceration by transforming the often interconnected inequities, structures, and ideologies which sustain them. This short virtual display, created by UW student group HOPE (Huskies for Opportunities in Prison Education), is intended only as one of many starting points to enter conversations about abolition and decarceration. The first section includes works that define and contextualize this display’s focus. The second section deepens the examination by focusing on youth, LBGTQ+, indigenous, disabled, and immigrant groups. The final section highlights incarcerated and formerly incarcerated voices, powerfully demonstrating why we need abolition. Not every work in the display explicitly concerns abolition or decarceration; those that don’t often provide intimate and powerful details about the realities of incarceration. We acknowledge that we have left out multiple texts, lenses, positions, and voices, but hope that the additional resources section may fill in gaps, lead to new lines of inquiry, and/or encourage dynamic forms of activism. 

Definitions & Contexts

Communities

Voices

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