Prison Scholar and Activist Ruth Wilson Gilmore on the Case for Abolition

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A California Department of Corrections officer looks on as inmates at Chino State Prison exercise in the yard. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Is prison necessary? That’s a central question in the work of longtime prison abolitionist and well-known prison scholar, Ruth Wilson Gilmore. A co-founder of activist organization Critical Resistance, Gilmore’s seminal book “Golden Gulag” analyzed California’s role in propelling both the prison building boom and tough-on-crime sentencing in the U.S. Today, criminal justice reform is under a brighter spotlight, as calls to defund the police have increased and as jails and prisons became hotspots for COVID-19 with effects rippling through surrounding communities. Gilmore joins us to share her thoughts on the movement to defund police and the case for abolishing prisons.


Ruth Wilson Gilmore, professor of geography and associate director of the Center for Place, Culture and Politics, CUNY Graduate Center; co-founder, Critical Resistance; author, "Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California"

Ashara Ekundayo, artist and cultural strategist; curator, "Imagine Freedom: Art Works for Abolition"