Join Scalawag for Abolition Week:
June 21-25, 2021

The national media is shifting its attention away from demands to restructure, defund, and abolish the police. But policing and prisons don't just affect those of us behind bars.

Whether you've never heard of Abolition, you have questions about what it means, or if you are already deeply committed to the work—the journey toward Abolition is an ongoing project, and it's one that we are all on together. This journey involves both changing our systems and our mentality.

That's why Scalawag is hosting our second Annual Abolition Week. During this time, we'll provide you with the context you need to guide you on your Abolition journey and to support you in taking the next step.

Come back to this page June 21-25 for this year's stories and resources. Until then, register for our conversation on June 23.

Read last year's team editorial to learn what we mean when we say Abolition, why journalists should cover this topic, and why we need more articles and essays from incarcerated writers:

Introducing Abolition Week

Scalawag's editorial team explains the motivation behind publishing work centered on Abolition—and why perspectives from incarcerated writers must be included in the news cycle.

"For Abolition Week, we highlight and uplift Southern Abolitionist artists, organizers, thinkers, and fighters who insist on a world without prisons and police, without cages, racism, extraction and domination. We believe this world is not only possible, but on the way."

Join Scalawag as we:

  • Advocate for the dignity of incarcerated people.
  • Present the realities of the carceral state by amplifying the voices and insights of incarcerated people.
  • Clarify the meaning of Abolition and provide a concrete understanding of why Abolition is better than the alternatives.
  • Uncover interlocking systems—how prisons and policing invade our schools, governments, housing systems, healthcare, economies.
  • Show how organizers are not just imagining Abolitionist alternatives, but implementing them.
  • Create community and solidarity around our growing need to shift to a world free from prisons. 

For other news organizations, we encourage you to participate by sharing work by incarcerated writers and helpful stories that unpack the role of Abolition in our world by linking back to this page to help readers place your stories in their own journey.

The path to Abolition is not new, but it is long. And none of us get there alone. Thank goodness we don't have to. Journey alongside us.

Letters from death row

Prison officials cut off higher education for people on North Carolina's Death Row

Editor's note: Since 2016, Death Row prisoner Lyle May has provided Scalawag readers with critical insights into North Carolina's criminal justice system. From lyrical essays that humanize prisoners, to reporting that unpacks complex policies, May's writing has expressed bold truths from one of the most marginalized parts of society. And he's accomplished this under increasingly […]

Life without parole is 'silent execution'

Suffering is an integral aspect of criminal justice for the offender, who should do so with the "difficulty of that reckoning and even the fear and pain it may cause," they deserve an opportunity to repair the damage for which they are responsible.

Hugs: An American family structure

"When someone tells you, "I'll be by your side forever," then they just stop writing or visiting… It's like being in love and having your heart broken; it hurts! I've developed a thick skin because I don't like getting hurt.

Beyond the wall

My physical presence reminded her there are real people on death row—living, thinking, feeling people who will be put to death because the law says, "Die."

A letter to President-Elect Trump

Your ancestors have hoodwinked, bamboozled, and murdered for the right to say, "This land is my land." Yet the ancestors of slaves are paying taxes, and much more, for land that was never theirs to begin with.

Why we must educate our prisoners

If the learning institutions that strengthen our societal fabric are unwilling to help educate prisoners, then that support must come from elsewhere. I am an example of how such support can transform a life that would have otherwise been squandered.

Three shifts of an 11th hour

Since I've been on death row, most executions in North Carolina have taken place at 2 a.m. Friday mornings. In my 19 years here, I've seen exceptions, but third shift – when prisoners stand still and prison officers work late into the night – is the state's designated time for the compulsory transcendence of a soul.

Further reading

Toxic Confinement

After years of complaints against Arkansas' Craighead County Detention Center, 13 detainees organize a wave a lawsuits to improve toxic environmental conditions at the jail.

A letter to Black mamas

For Mother's Day this year, Southerners On New Ground (SONG), a regional queer liberation organization focused on the South the South, made a simple, transformative request: Bail Black mothers out of jail.

Whether Fences or Not

When I remember what a privilege it is to have a place, any place, in the web of existence on this planet, I return with humble gratitude to the awe-inspiring, primal fact of the moment: I am alive, I am part of this place, part of the totality.

New Year's Revolution

'This is the Year'– a poet held captive at Dade Correctional imagines revolutionary possibilities, partially inspired by Martín Espada's "Imagine the Angels of Bread"