(Re)Imagining Public Safety after a Racial Reckoning

Project: Research project

Project Details


My project builds on a long history of efforts to change public safety infrastructure. Calls to transform the criminal legal system have been around since its formation in the United States. Although police often take center stage in debates, critiques have taken on the entire criminal legal enterprise. W.E.B. Du Bois argued that the abolition of slavery was not complete until all institutions meant to diminish the ability of Black Americans to live full lives, including many aspects of the criminal legal system, were torn down and the resources to live full lives provided. He termed this concept “abolition democracy.” The framework of abolition that Du Bois and other early Black leaders developed continued to grow through prison abolition movements in the 40s and 50s, the Civil Rights Movement, the prison riots in the 60s and 70s, the foundational writings of Angela Davis and Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and now the fight against mass incarceration and modern police brutality. Angela Davis took up Du Bois’s concept, defining prison abolition as a demand to not only do away with much of the criminal legal system but also to create “an array of social institutions that would begin to solve the social problems that set people on the track to prison, thereby helping to render the prison obsolete” (Davis 2011:96).
Effective start/end date7/1/226/30/23


  • Russell Sage Foundation (2202-37193)


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.