No Justice, No Resilience: Prison Abolition As Disaster Mitigation in an Era of Climate Change

Carlee Purdum, Felicia Henry, Sloan Rucker, Darien Alexander Williams, Richard Thomas, Benika Dixon, Fayola Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Disasters are becoming more frequent and destructive while the consequences for incarcerated persons have grown increasingly visible. Simultaneously, scholars, individuals, and communities are grappling with police brutality and systemic anti-Black racism in the criminal legal system by engaging with the concept of abolition. In this article we demonstrate that these issues are not disconnected and argue that the abolition of the prison industrial complex (PIC) would mitigate the impacts of disasters for incarcerated persons and their communities. Incarceration undermines individual and collective resilience needed to recover from disasters, whereas carceral infrastructure facilitates disaster harm to incarcerated persons and their communities. Incarceration itself mirrors the harm and destruction of a disaster. Abolition of the PIC would not only prevent harm from incarceration, but also systems of accountability put in place by communities as suggested by abolitionists would contribute to the resilience of individuals and communities. By examining these connections, we provide a framework for considerations of abolition in an era of reckoning with anti-Blackness, the violence of the criminal legal system, and climate change, and suggest further investment of research in these areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-425
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Justice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.


  • abolition
  • disaster
  • emergency management
  • prison labor
  • racism
  • vulnerability


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