Prison-industrial complex (PIC) abolition is a theory of change and a practical organizing strategy that originated more than a century ago. Its aim is to end surveillance, criminalization, policing, and imprisonment globally, in all its forms. You can find comprehensive definitions of the PIC and PIC abolition here.
Abolition in Social Work
Engaging in an abolitionist praxis within social work means refusing the practices and political commitments that have been upheld since the profession’s inception. It means refusing the lineage of white social work and its deeply carceral protocols and engaging in a politic of solidarity and life-affirming practices. To further understand what an abolitionist praxis in social work demands of us, you can explore the Network to Advance Abolitionist Social Work.
Systems Abolitionist Social Workers are Focused on
The challenges before us—within the profession, in the United States, and globally—are great. To build beautiful, healthy futures that care and provide for the well-being of all people, land, and more-than-humankind, we need an analytical tool and organizing strategy that is unwaveringly committed to addressing root causes and upending the world as we know it. Prison-industrial complex abolition is a clear-eyed political vision for a future that is anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, anti-racist, and anti-carceral.
Abolitionist social workers practice, research, and organize across a variety of substantive areas, some of which include the following: economics (anti-capitalism); borders and migration; mental difference; disability justice; health and wellness; family policing; policing; courts; ecological justice; intimate partner violence; and education and schools.
Social Work Abolitionist Partners
Abolitionist Social Change Collective
The Abolitionist Social Change Collective provides a virtual space for people engaged in all forms of (un)paid social-welfare and social-change work to:
Build a community of people who exchange ideas and develop abolition-focused collaborations;
Advance non-carceral approaches to harm, accountability, and well-being;
Work toward a more solidarity-focused form of social-change work.
This collective holds a monthly meeting space on the third Tuesday of every month from 1:30 to 3 p.m. MT.
To plug in, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you run into access issues, please feel free to email Sophia Sarantakos at Sophia.Sarantakos@du.edu.
Network to Advance Abolitionist Social Work
The Network to Advance Abolitionist Social Work (NAASW) strives to amplify a practice of social work aimed at dismantling the prison industrial complex (PIC) and building the life-affirming horizon to which abolition aspires.
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Abolitionist Perspectives in Social Work
Abolitionist Perspectives in Social Work is a peer-reviewed, open-access scholarly journal dedicated to the development and dissemination of abolitionist values, theory, and praxis within the profession of social work, including research, education, policy, and practice. The journal provides a space to explore the contradictions and value conflicts that exist in the social work profession, as well as the possibilities that can emerge from challenging these contradictions. The journal also provides space to name and explore the challenges associated with raising abolitionist perspectives in social work, which are often marginalized and demeaned within the profession.
The upEND Movement is a collaborative movement that works to abolish the existing child welfare system, which is built on a model of surveillance and separation and more accurately described as a family policing system. Abolition requires ending this oppressive system AND imagining and recreating the ways in which society supports children, families, and communities in being safe and thriving.