While prisons surely have problems, abolishing them and retaining all criminals freely in the community, which is essentially what the abolitionist movement calls for, would create a level of community crime unseen in this country.

Prisons work in protecting the public from the criminals that are locked up in them and that is enough reason for prisons; though clearly, we should always work to make prisons more humane but never make them less confining.

An article in the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Society makes the case of prison abolition, starting with women’s prisons.

Abstract with link to article at the jump.

Because the U.S. is unable to prevent widespread sexual violations of incarcerated women, it should apply the prescriptions of a recent U.K. female prison abolitionist movement as the most effective and humane solution to the problem. Part I of this article examines the mass incarceration, composition, and sexual victimization of U.S. female prisoners. Part II evaluates the most recent attempt to stop the sexual victimization of U.S. prisoners under the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Part III presents the U.K. abolitionist solution and the small, though notable, consensus of support that developed around it. Part IV contends that, because neither the Prison Rape Elimination Act nor any previous law has adequately protected prisoners from sexual abuse, the incarceration of women is unconscionable when adequate prison alternatives of support programs and community care are available. This Part also argues against alternatives rooted in retaliation and violence. The article concludes with hope: it argues that the best response to chaotic brutality is not calculated brutality, but humanity.

Retrieved April 15, 2014 from
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Delivery.cfm/SSRN_ID2412755_code2081893.pdf?abstractid=2412755&mirid=1

Hat tip to Crime & Consequences Blog at http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/crimblog/2014/04/what-they-actually-think-but-u.html