Beyond Alternatives: Disability, Madness and Prison Abolition
May 21, 2021
- 3:00 p.m. ET - 4:45 p.m. ET
Virtual Event - Register Below
Angela Y. Davis, Beth Richie, Liat Ben-Moshe, Maya Schenwar, and Victoria Law in conversation on disability, madness, and prison abolition

About this Event

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This event will be a timely conversation about disability, madness, prison reform and abolition. Speakers will confront the entanglement of punishment and treatment, the carceral state and social work, and caging and “rehabilitation.” They will engage with the Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law's Prison by Any Other Name and Liat Ben-Moshe's Decarcerating Disability, and the questions these books raise.

In Prison by Any Other Name, Schenwar and Law argue that: “The entwinement of the asylum and the prison is an old story. For the past two and a half centuries, the discipline and control of people diagnosed with mental illness has ridden alongside the discipline and control of criminalized people. Very often, those populations are one and the same, and controlled by the same authorities. The solution to their existence was, and often continues to be, confinement.”

In Decarcerating Disability, Ben-Moshe refers to this as “Carceral ableism. . . the praxis and belief that people with disabilities need special or extra protections, in ways that often expand and legitimate their further marginalization and incarceration.“ She shows how deinstitutionalization is often wrongly blamed for the rise in incarceration; who resists decarceration and deinstitutionalization, and the coalitions opposing such resistance; and underscores the limitations of disability rights and inclusion discourses, as well as tactics such as litigation, in securing freedom.

***Register through Eventbrite to receive a link to the video conference on the day of the event. This event will also be recorded.***



Prison by Any Other Name:

Decarcerating Disability:

Abolition. Feminism. Now.:



Angela Y. Davis is a political activist, academic, and the author of ten books and numerous articles. Davis is Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in its History of Consciousness Department. In 1997, Davis co-founded Critical Resistance, an organization working toward the abolition of what she and others have called the prison-industrial complex. Her work as an activist-scholar has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender equality. Her newest book Abolition. Feminism. Now., co-authored with Gina Dent, Erica Meiners, and Beth E. Richie, is forthcoming in July from Haymarket books.

Liat Ben-Moshe is an Assistant Professor of Criminology, Law and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of Decarcerating Disability: Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition (University of Minnesota Press 2020) and co-editor (with Allison Carey and Chris Chapman) of Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada (Palgrave 2014). For more, visit

Beth E. Richie is Professor of Black Studies and Head of the Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice at The University of Illinois at Chicago. The emphasis of her scholarly and activist work as a feminist abolitionist has centered on the ways that race/ethnicity and social position affect women's experience of violence and incarceration, focusing on the experiences of African American battered women and sexual assault survivors. Richie’s forthcoming work Abolition. Feminism. Now., co-authored with Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, and Erica Meiners is forthcoming in July. Dr. Richie is the author of Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America’s Prison Nation (NYU Press, 2012) and a board member of The Institute on Domestic Violence in the African Community, The National Network for Women in Prison, A Call To Men and a founding member of Incite! Women, Gender Non-Conforming, and Trans people of Color Against Violence.

Maya Schenwar is Editor-in-Chief of Truthout. She is the co-author (with Victoria Law) of Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms (The New Press, 2020), and the author of Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2014). She is the co-editor (with Joe Macaré and Alana Yu-Lan Price) of Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States (Haymarket Books, 2016). For more, visit

Victoria Law is a freelance journalist focused on issues of incarceration. She is the co-author (with Maya Schenwar) of Prison By Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms (New Press, 2020) and author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women (PM Press, 2009) and “Prisons Keep Us Safer” and 20 Other Myths About Mass Incarceration (Beacon Press, 2021). For more, visit


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This event is part of #RadicalMay, a collective endeavor by a group of publishers to host virtual events on a variety of topics in honor of May Day. Check out more events at