These works, a partial selection of the many important accounts of how Black women are overpoliced and underprotected, provide a structural analysis of race, gender, and punitive policing. These books, articles, podcasts, and poems are a starting point for those wishing to learn more about how the sometimes lethal intersection of patriarchy and white supremacy leaves Black women and girls vulnerable to both public and private violence.
Morgan Bassichis, Alexander Lee and Dean Spade, “Building an Abolitionist Trans and Queer Movement with Everything We’ve Got,” in Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, Oakland: AK Press, 2011.
An essay documenting transformative approaches that are informed by gender and trans studies.
Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?, Steven Stories Press, 2003.
A foundational work for the modern abolitionist movement, tracing social movements across history and calling for “decarceration.”
John Duda and Mariame Kaba, “Towards the horizon of abolition: A conversation with Mariame Kaba,”The Next System Project.
A conversation between John Duda and Mariam Kaba, a prison abolitionist, about what it means to work towards prison abolition in the age of Trump, the difference between security and safety, and what the work of abolition looks like.
“Ruth Wilson Gilmore on COVID-19, Decarceration, and Abolition,” Haymarket Books, 2020.
A video discussion where Ruth Wilson Gilmore discusses the relationship between public health, jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers.
Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California, University of California Press, 2007.
Gilmore provides a history of how California created one of the biggest prison booms in the world. This text is foundational for the idea of “carceral geography.”
Crystal Feimster, Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching, Harvard University Press, 2011.
A book that focuses on two women journalists — Ida B. Wells, who campaigned against lynching, and Rebecca Latimer Felton, who urged white men to prove their manhood by lynching Black men accused of raping white women.
Mariame Kaba and Kelly Hayes, “A Jailbreak of the Imagination: Seeing Prisons for What They Are and Demanding Transformation.” Truthout, 2018.
An essay tracing the relationship between mental health and prison, pushing forward a call for abolition and transformation.
Talitha LeFlouria, Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South, University of North Carolina Press, 2016.
This revealing history redefines the social context of Black women’s lives and labor in the New South and allows their stories to be told for the first time.
Monique Morris, Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, The New Press, 2016.
By critically interrogating the ways that the prison industrial complex has infiltrated our schools, Morris gives us insight into the complexity of our racialized -- and crucially, gendered -- systems of punishment.
Beth Richie, Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation, NYU Press, 2012.
Building out from horrific stories and gut-wrenching statistics, Beth Richie provides insight into the particular vulnerabilities of Black women in an intersectionality oppressive society.
Beth Richie, Compelled to Crime, Routledge, 1995.
Deploying the legal notion of “gender entrapment,” Beth Richie digs deep into the structural production of intersectional oppression as it pertains to Black women in the “criminal justice” system.
Andrea Ritchie, "Say Her Name: What it means to center Black women's experiences of police violence,” Truthout, 2015.
Writing after the murder of Sandra Bland, Andrea Ritchie discusses the importance of the #SayHerName movement.
Andrea Ritchie, Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color, Beacon Press, 2017. Link to NPR interview where she reads from and discusses the book.
Working against the invisibility that Black women experience in the media, specifically in regards to violence, Ritchie produces an examination of encounters between police and civilians from the perspective of Black women, women of color, transgender women, and others.
Dorothy Roberts, Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare, Civitas Books, 2002.
Here, Roberts explores how the U.S. foster care system reinforces systems of gender and race oppression.
Oonagh Ryder and Mo Mansfield, “‘Just Paint the Walls Pink’: Gender, Prison and Carceral Feminism.” Lockdown podcast, 2018.
Oonagh Ryder and Mo Mansfield discuss carceral feminism, how it has helped expand the criminal justice system, and how we can move towards an abolitionist feminism.
Assata Shakur, “The Tradition.”
A poetic representation and reimagination of abolition and freedom, linking incarceration to histories of slavery.
Assata Shakur, “Women in Prison: How We Are,” The Black Scholar, vol. 9, no. 7, April 1978.
Shakur speaks from the collective perspective of “we” as she narrates women’s experience in prison and describes the environment and treatment they are subjected to.
Dean Spade and Reina Gossett, “No One Is Disposable: Everyday Practices of Prison Abolition” Podcast Series, 2014.
Activists Reina Gossett and Dean Spade discuss prison abolition as a framework with particular focus on why it is critical for those supporting trans and gender-nonconforming people.
Breea C. Willingham, “Black Women’s Prison Narratives and the Intersection of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in U.S. Prisons,” Critical Survey, vol. 23, no. 3, 2011.
This article uses Black feminist thought as a framework to understand Black women’s experiences with incarceration and reveals how discrimination against race, gender, and sexuality are carried out in prisons.
Critical Resistance and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, “Statement on Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial Complex,” in Abolition Now! Ten Years of Strategy and Struggle Against the Prison Industrial Complex, Oakland, California: AK Press, 2008.
A statement asking those involved in social justice movements to also develop strategies and analysis that address state and interpersonal violence, particularly violence against women.
“Incarcerated Women and Girls,” The Sentencing Project, 2019
A statistical project examining the impact of incarceration on women and girls.
“Fatal Interactions with Police Study (FIPS),” Washington University in St. Louis.
A database with numerous intersectional studies mapping 1,700 fatal interactions with police from May 2013 to January 2015. Findings include how unarmed Black women face higher odds of being killed by police.
“Policing Women: Race and gender disparities in police stops, searches, and use of force,” Prison Policy Initiative, 2019.
A digital study examining gendered differences in the criminal justice system, concluding that there are no trauma-informed or gender-responsive policing practices — especially for Black and brown women.
Radical Imagination, a Police Abolition Podcast.
Radical Imagination host Angela Glover Blackwell explores questions about how police abolition would work and how we would protect public safety without them. Blackwell is joined by hip-hop artist Jessica Disu, a.k.a. FM Supreme, and Rachel Herzing, co-director of the Center for Political Education in Oakland.