Visions of Abolition: From Critical Resistance to A New Way of Life

From Critical Resistance1VISIONS OF ABOLITION was designed as a teaching tool to expand knowledge about the history of the prison industrial complex and the prison abolition movement in the United States.

Part I “Breaking down the Prison Industrial Complex” weaves together the voices of women caught in the criminal justice system, and leading scholars of prison abolition, examining the racial and gendered violence of the prison system. Our film features the work of Susan Burton, a formerly incarcerated mother who established A New Way of Life, a group of transition homes for women coming home from prison in South Los Angeles (39 mins).

Part II “Abolition: Past Present and Future,” documents the recent history of the prison abolition movement through the organizing efforts of Critical Resistance and explores the meaning of abolitionist politics. By focusing on the collaboration between Critical Resistance and A New Way of Life, (known as the L.E.A.D. Project) the second half of the film unfolds a vision of abolition in practice (48 mins).

This film features Angela Y. Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Susan Burton, Melissa Burch, Dylan Rodriguez, and Andrea Smith.

The direct material catalyst and inspiration for this film was a videography project, undertaken by Cameo Watkins and Patricia Naqi. As interns with the L.E.A.D. Project, (a sub-project of Critical Resistance, Los Angeles) they conducted video interviews with community members in Watts about their experiences with the police. After viewing their footage, Setsu Shigematsu, Jolie Chea and Cameron Granadino and other students at UCR decided to embark on a new film project about the politics of prison abolition, as an urgent alternative to the failure of the criminal justice system.