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beds lined up in a big room in an overcrowded california prison

An overcrowded California state prison (California Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation photograph by way of Wikimedia Commons)

The US now locks up extra individuals than nearly any nation within the historical past of the world, and by just about any measure, prisons haven’t labored, stated Paul Butler, a regulation professor at Georgetown College, throughout a UC Berkeley lecture in October. As an alternative, Butler advocates abolishing prisons and discovering other ways to take care of those that trigger hurt — one thing that he says would create a safer, extra simply society.

Paul Butler giving a talk at a podium

Paul Butler (Picture by New America by way of Flickr)

“Prison has been a depressing failure,” stated Butler, additionally a authorized analyst on MSNBC. “It doesn’t work. Most younger individuals who come house from prison wind up proper again there inside two years. Prisons themselves are horrible locations. They’re violent, they stink, they’re harmful, they’re noisy. It’s actually onerous to depart an area like that higher than once you got here in.”

Graphic for the 400th anniversary of slaves arriving in English colonies

UC Berkeley is observing the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the English colonies.

Butler, creator of the 2017 guide Chokehold: Policing Black Males, gave a chat known as “Prison Abolition, and a Mule” on Oct. 16, 2019, as a part of UC Berkeley’s Jefferson Memorial Lectures, sponsored by the Graduate Division. It was additionally a part of the campus’s yearlong initiative, 400 Years of Resistance to Slavery and Injustice, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the pressured arrival of enslaved Africans within the English colonies.

“So, what does prison abolition imply?” requested Butler. “Let me begin with what it doesn’t imply. It doesn’t imply opening each prison door tomorrow. Most abolitionists don’t suppose that we should always storm the prison and let everyone go house tomorrow. Consider it as a technique of gradual decarceration with the purpose of discovering how shut we are able to get to utterly eliminating incarceration whereas discovering different technique of undertaking any of the potential advantages of prison.”

Watch or take heed to previous Jefferson Memorial Lectures on the Graduate Division’s web site.

Discover upcoming occasions associated to the 400 Years initiative on the Othering and Belonging Institute’s web site.

This lecture was recorded by Instructional Know-how Companies and produced by College of California Tv, a public-serving media outlet that includes programming from all through the College of California. Watch a video of the lecture beneath.

Paul Butler, a regulation professor at Georgetown College and creator of Chokehold: Policing Black Males, gave a lecture in October 2019 as a part of UC Berkeley’s Jefferson Memorial Lectures and the 400 Years of Resistance to Slavery and Injustice, a yearlong campus initiative. (Video recorded by ETS and produced by UCTV)


Additionally, watch an interview with Butler on Conversations with Historical past, an interview program created, produced and hosted by Harry Kreisler, former govt director and present visiting scholar at Berkeley’s Institute of Worldwide Research.


Harry Kreisler interviews Butler for Conversations with Historical past. (Video recorded by ETS and produced by UCTV)