Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition
By Liat Ben-Moshe
Published by The University of Minnesota Press
A growing number activists have become familiar with the vast and interlocking histories of oppression that are constitutive of present US society—indigenous dispossession, racialized slavery, exploitative capitalism, imperialist plunder. Less often understood or theorized is the phenomenon of mass disablement as an artifice of social oppression.
In fact, a critical analysis thereof is pivotal to making sense of myriad other oppressive American histories, including: eugenics and the enforcement of biosocial hierarchies; the pseudoscience of race inferiorities and intelligence quotients; segregationist and eliminationist regimes of carcerality and sterilization; hyper-exploitative cults of productivity, wealth accumulation, and universal competition; and the constant reproduction of variable layers of the human species rendered into a permanent underclass of paupers, peripherals, and euphemistic “surplus” or “superfluous” populations.1 For an interesting recent discussion of this topic, see Daniel Tutt, “Recentering the Lumpen Question Today,” Spectre Journal, March 4, 2021, https://spectrejournal.com/recentering-the-lumpen-question-today.
Theorizing the Disability-Carceral Relationship
One important area that has recently seen inroads in theorizing across various forms of oppression, including that of disability, is the prison abolition movement. Having as their goal the complete elimination, or transcendence, of all existing structures of carceral violence, coercion, and subjugation, prison abolitionists have made recourse to a number of emancipatory frames of analysis—from settler colonialism to racial capitalism to hetero-patriarchy. Paying homage to the ancestral liberation movement against American slavery, from which it draws both literal and figurative analogies, modern abolitionism focuses primarily on the state apparatuses of the prisons and the police: how these latter institutions dialectically emerge from and reproduce existing systems of oppression. Among the names associated with this movement we might include Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Beth Richie, Erica Meiners, Dean Spade, and Mariame Kaba. Many of these figures adhere to a feminist of color or queer feminist of color critical framework, which is also often anticapitalist or socialist.
Of those explicitly theorizing the disability-carceral relationship, Marta Russell and Jean Stewart were among the first. Their article “Disablement, Prison, and Historical Segregation,” originally published in Monthly Review magazine in 2001 (and reproduced in the book I edited, Capitalism and Disability, published by Haymarket Books in 2019), is seminal as an historical materialist analysis. The authors trace the emergence of the “disabled” classification in line with the development of industrial capitalism, how those whose bodies and minds were deemed less profitably productive from the standpoint of competitive wage-labor were effectively marginalized. “American capitalism,” write Russell and Stewart, “in its failure to incorporate disabled people into its social fabric, instead shunts them into prisons and other institutions.”2Marta Russell, Capitalism & Disability: Selected Writings by Marta Russell, ed. Keith Rosenthal (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2019), 93.
Others have engaged in illuminating analyses focused on the connection between Special Education and the so-called school-to-prison pipeline or “school-prison nexus,” such as Subini Annamma along with Nirmala Erevelles and Andrea Minear.3Subini A. Annamma, The Pedagogy of Pathologization: Dis/Abled Girls of Color in the School-Prison Nexus (New York: Routledge, 2018); Nirmala Erevelles and Andrea Minear, “Unspeakable Offenses: Untangling Race and Disability in Discourses of Intersectionality,” in The Disability Studies Reader, ed. Lennard J. Davis, 4th ed., eBook (New York: Routledge, 2013). Presently, however, the scholar doing the most expansive work on the relationship between disability and incarceration is Liat Ben-Moshe. Ben-Moshe has produced two books on the subject within the past ten years: Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada (2014), and Decarcerating Disability: Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition (2020).4Liat Ben-Moshe, Chris Chapman, and Allison C. Carey, eds., Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada, eBook (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); Liat Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability: Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition, eBook (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020).
Disability Incarcerated is an edited collection that surveys the various iterations and sites of historical carcerality vis-à-vis disabled people: asylums, mental hospitals, state institutions, migrant detention centers, prisons, nursing homes, segregated schools and workshops. It is an accessible overview and exploration of the pertinent topics, histories, and theories. Decarcerating Disability, in contrast, is singularly authored by Ben-Moshe; it is an interesting attempt at utilizing the experience of disability incarceration and decarceration—in the form of the lesser-known deinstitutionalization movement of the later twentieth century—in order to impart lessons and considerations of relevance to the present-day abolition movement.
Others have written extensively on the history and political economy of deinstitutionalization as such.5See, e.g., Anne E. Parsons, From Asylum to Prison: Deinstitutionalization and the Rise of Mass Incarceration after 1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018); Paul J. Castellani, From Snake Pits to Cash Cows: Politics and Public Institutions in New York (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005); Ruthie-Marie Beckwith, Disability Servitude: From Peonage to Poverty (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). Ben-Moshe’s Decarcerating Disability is unique in its explicit positioning within the framework of prison studies and the abolitionist movement; it is, in fact, a polemical intervention into living debates. As Ben-Moshe writes in the introduction:
To those who claim that prison abolition and massive decarceration are utopian and could never happen, this book shows that they’ve happened already, although in a different arena, in the form of mass closures of residential institutions and psychiatric hospitals and the deinstitutionalization of those who resided in them.
Understanding how to activate this knowledge can lead to more nuanced actions toward and understandings about reducing reliance on prisons and other carceral enclosures as holders for people who are deemed by society to be dangerous, abnormal, or disturbed.6Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, introduction, paras. 4-5.
Mass Incarceration and Deinstitutionalization
Many are by now aware that the United States has the largest prison system in world history.7There are approximately 1.5 million people in state and federal prisons, with an additional 4.5 million under some sort of carceral surveillance (i.e., parole, probation, etc.). German Lopez, “How America Became the World’s Leader in Incarceration, in 22 Maps and Charts,” Vox, October 11, 2016, www.vox.com/2015/7/13/8913297/mass-incarceration-maps-charts; “Highest to Lowest: Prison Population Rate,” Data set, World Prison Brief, accessed July 16, 2021, www.prisonstudies.org/highest-to-lowest/prison_population_rate?field_region_taxonomy_tid=All. With roughly 5 percent of the world’s population, the US incarcerates nearly 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.8Lopez, “How America Became”; Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, introduction, sec. “Disability and Imprisonment,” para. 1. If the per capita and absolute quantity of prisoners in the US has skyrocketed dramatically over recent decades, however, the trend for the preceding form of widespread incarceration—the institutionalization of the disabled—has gone in almost exactly the opposite direction. For instance, in the 1950s, the rate of (less-than- and in-voluntary) institutionalization in mental hospitals was nearly 500 per 100,000 adults, while the prison rate was roughly 150 per 100,000 adults; by the year 2000, the rate of institutionalization in mental hospitals was less than 50 per 100,000, while the prison rate was close to 600 per 100,000.9Bernard E. Harcourt, “From the Asylum to the Prison: Rethinking the Incarceration Revolution,” Texas Law Review 84, no. 7 (June 2006): 1755. Today, the number of people with intellectual disabilities residing in large state institutions is less than 70,000, far below the peak of 194,650 people in 1967; the number of people in state mental hospitals has likewise declined from a high of 559,000 in 1955 to fewer than 100,000 today.10Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 1, sec. “What is Deinstitutionalization?” para. 2. In addition to a general depopulation of existing institutions, the number of institutions in operation declined dramatically, with 140 institutional closures occurring between 1960 and 2010.11Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 1, sec. “What is Deinstitutionalization?” para. 2.
The process of deinstitutionalization, encapsulated by the figures above, was the result of a confluence of many factors including:
- The emergence of a mass social movement comprising institutionalized and formerly institutionalized people and their allies and families.
- Increasingly high-profile documentations of institutional abuses and horrors exposed by politicians, media personalities, and public intellectuals.
- Changes in the global and domestic political economy, viz. the turn toward so-called neoliberal capitalist policies of budget austerity and privatization.
- The rise of “community” and “soft” carceral approaches to disability, such as group homes, nursing homes, and psychiatric pharmaceuticals.12Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chaps. 1–2.
Abolitionist Strategy and Ideology
As Ben-Moshe and others argue, this experience of disability carcerality holds vast implications for contemporary analyses of mass incarceration and the “prison-industrial complex.”13See Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, introduction. Of more immediate relevance to the prison abolition movement, there are important strategic lessons to be gleaned from the process of deinstitutionalization.
Indeed, the question of strategy and tactics features prominently in Decarcerating Disability. For instance, Ben-Moshe organizes much of the book around the differences between “reformist reforms,” or reforms that “increase the scope of harm” and further entrench carceral logics and systems, and “non-reformist reforms,” or reforms that actively undermine the stability, support, or longevity of the carceral system.14Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, introduction, chap. 7. In the former category Ben-Moshe includes such things as involuntary commitment to psychiatric hospitals as an “alternative” to prison, or campaigns that narrowly focus on the problem of overcrowding within carceral institutions, which can often lead to the expansion of carceral infrastructure. In contrast, the latter category might include a struggle to shut down or block the construction of a particular prison, or reform efforts that attend the self-active resistance and empowerment of incarcerated people themselves.15Historical examples of this include prisoners’ strikes against oppressive conditions or the emergence of self-advocacy groups in the 1970s in which currently and formerly institutionalized disabled people came together in order to advocate “for the closure of . . . institutions and the move of all their peers into community-living settings;” Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 6.
Additionally, Ben-Moshe is critical of accommodationist discourses centered on rights, inclusion, and litigation. Such “liberal approaches . . . [end] in demands to expand existing frameworks to accommodate marginalized populations, such as disabled people of color, but not in changing the status quo.”16Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, introduction, sec. “Disability and Imprisonment,” para. 7. In a related vein, Ben-Moshe critiques the “attrition model” of abolition, which aims to gradually break down carceral systems through a process of piecemeal depopulation:
The point is to decarcerate prison populations one by one – first the young, then the mentally ill, and so on. The problem of chipping at the margins of the system is that the center, the logic of incarceration itself as neutral and essentially benign (as long as those incarcerated are healthy and not mistreated), remains intact.17Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 7, sec. “Individual Decarceration Cases and Carceral Ableism/Sanism,” para. 7.
Ideologically, Ben-Moshe has what might be termed a bricolage perspective. In Decarcerating Disability, Ben-Moshe introduces the phrase “race-ability” to describe the book’s guiding theoretical framework; a framework that shares kinship with queer of color and crip of color critiques. Race-ability, according to Ben-Moshe,
engages . . . the ways race and disability, and racism, sanism, and ableism as intersecting oppressions, are mutually constitutive and cannot be separated, in their genealogy (eugenics, for example), current iterations of resistance (in the form of disability justice, for example), or oppression (incarceration and police killing, for example).18Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, introduction, sec. “Genealogy of Decarceration,” para. 1.
Ben-Moshe also writes about the importance of centering “fugitive/maroon abolitionist knowledges” in advancing critical analyses of carcerality.19Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 3, sec. “Maroon Knowledge for Abolition,” para. 1. Taken from the term historically associated with Black people who escaped from or otherwise resisted transatlantic slavery, “maroonage” refers to the “subjugated knowledges of activists and those incarcerated who are of color.”20Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, introduction, sec. “Etymology of Abolition,” para. 8.
The concept of subjugated knowledges is in turn largely adapted from the postmodern philosopher Michel Foucault, whose writings on the operation of systems of power and truth “deeply inspired” Ben-Moshe’s analysis.21Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, introduction, sec. “Genealogy of Decarceration,” para. 2. In Foucault’s words, subjugated knowledges are “blocks of historical knowledges” that have been subsumed by “formal systematization”; that is, “ways of knowing” that have been dismissed, disqualified, or shunned by the hegemonic arbiters of reason.22As cited in Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 2, sec. “Normalization and the Myth of Mental Illness,” paras. 3-4. In this schema, power “is not a centralized external force controlled by a limited few,” writes Ben-Moshe, “but is inside us, making us operate in particular ways, often by benevolent means, that is, ‘for our own good,’ such as is the case with diets, psychotherapy, anger management, and rehabilitation, to name a few examples.”23Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, introduction, sec. “Genealogy of Decarceration,” para. 3.
One shortcoming of this conception—a shortcoming that relates to the broader tendency of Decarcerating Disability to occasionally slip into the overly academic, abstract, or esoteric—is that it focuses on subjugated and resistant classes of knowledges, or ideas, rather than sociohistorical classes of people. That is, history is herein determined by the struggle between hegemonic and counterhegemonic logics, rather than the struggle between contending forces and relations of socioeconomic (re)production. Absent a materialist, as opposed to purely ideational, analysis of the historical class(es) and conditions that embody the latent potential to revolutionize present society, one is bereft of a clear connection between ends and means. For Ben-Moshe, this is manifest in a vague reflexive skepticism to “going mainstream,” which is “counter abolitionary,”24Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 3, sec. “Abolition Dis-epistemology,” para. 4. the abandonment of credulity as to “what is to be done,”25Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 3, sec. “Abolition, Optimism, and Futurity,” paras. 1-3. and the embrace of “dis-epistemology,” i.e., “letting go of attachments to forms of knowledge that rely on certainty (the definitive consequences of doing or not doing); prescription and professional expertise (tell us what should be done); and specific demands for futurity (clairvoyance, or what will happen).”26Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 3, sec. “Abolition Dis-epistemology,” para. 1.
While there is nothing wrong with not knowing what to do and having the humility and patience to openly recognize it and reflect on it, or in questioning the “commonsense” ideas and prejudices of the prevailing historical era, there is a problem in the categorical rendering of uncertainty as a virtue and certainty as a vice.
Another area that, in my opinion, undermines the overall polemical thrust of Decarcerating Disability involves Ben-Moshe’s discussion of the so-called anti-psychiatry movement of the 1960s and 1970s.27Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 2, sec. “Abolition in Antipsychiatry.” Associated most famously with Thomas Szasz and his 1961 book, The Myth of Mental Illness, the anti-psychiatry movement played a role in the deinstitutionalization of those committed to psychiatric facilities for any number of diagnosed mental illnesses and impairments. However, Szasz and others of like mind, both then and now, sought more than the mere closure of psychiatric institutions; rather, their aim was the abolition of the medical hegemony of psychiatry itself.28See, e.g., Bruce M. Z. Cohen, Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Theory of Mental Illness (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).
To anti-psychiatry activists, the psychiatric profession represented in toto an oppressive force that inappropriately pathologized people’s “problems in living” or acted as a sort of mental police, stigmatizing and medicalizing behaviors deemed socially deviant or subversive.29Thomas Szasz, as cited in Cohen, Psychiatric Hegemony, 3. A full discussion of the relative merits and limitations of the anti-psychiatry movement is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that there are many important critiques of the politics of anti-psychiatry, including its controversial dismissal of the science or reality of mental illness, made from a socialist and revolutionary standpoint, which Ben-Moshe fails to adequately engage.30Cf., Peter Sedgwick, Psycho Politics: Laing, Foucault, Goffman, Szasz and the Future of Mass Psychiatry (London: Unkant Publishers, 2015); Joel Kovel, The Radical Spirit: Essays on Psychoanalysis and Society (London: Free Association, 1988). In positioning and linking the movement for the abolition of psychiatry with the movement for the abolition of carcerality, Ben-Moshe unnecessarily constructs the argument for the latter on partially shaky ground.
Foregoing criticisms notwithstanding, Decarcerating Disability is a useful and welcome text insofar as it actively engages with the process of “letting go of hegemonic knowledge (of crime, of corrections and the dangerous few, for example).”31Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 3, sec. “Abolition Dis-epistemology,” para. 1. On a practical level, Ben-Moshe articulates responses to many of the common questions that abolitionists face, including: what to do about interpersonal or community safety; are non-carceral solutions practicable; why are certain people and behaviors criminalized; and, in the words of Angela Davis, what kind of “social landscape” would non-carcerality necessitate and entail.32Angela Y. Davis with Dylan Rodriguez, “The Challenge of Prison Abolition: A Conversation,” Social Justice 27, no. 3 (2000): 215, as cited in Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 3, sec. “The Necessity of the Utopian,” para. 5.
Future Trends and Prospects
The key takeaway is that the relevance of the history of disability decarceration to the prison abolitionist movement is of a general and proximate character. For instance, trends over recent years point to the fact that the phenomenon of mass incarceration in the United States may be finally slowing down, if not reversing. Since reaching a high-point in the late 2000s, the overall rate of incarceration has been declining, along with the absolute number of those currently incarcerated.33Aleks Kajstura, “States of Women’s Incarceration: The Global Context 2018” Prison Policy Initiative, June 2018, www.prisonpolicy.org/global/women/2018.html; Wendy Sawyer, “The Gender Divide: Tracking Women’s State Prison Growth” Prison Policy Initiative, January 9, 2018, www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/women_overtime.html. In terms of youth incarceration, the change is particularly stark; since 2000, there has been a 50 to 60 percent decrease in both the rates of youth arrest and incarceration and the absolute number of youth currently incarcerated.34Children’s Defense Fund, “The State of America’s Children 2021” Children’s Defense Fund, 2021, www.childrensdefense.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/The-State-of-Americas-Children-2021.pdf; Jose Olivares, “Fewer Youths Incarcerated, but Gap between Blacks and Whites Worsens,” NPR.org, September 27, 2017, www.npr.org/2017/09/27/551864016/fewer-youths-incarcerated-but-gap-between-blacks-and-whites-worsens; Wendy Sawyer, “Youth Confinement: The Whole Pie 2019” Prison Policy Initiative, December 19, 2019, www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/youth2019.html.
This, however, should be kept in perspective—the United States still remains the world’s leader in youth criminalization, with nearly 700,000 youth arrested annually (almost 10 percent of whom are arrested in schools) and over 43,000 youth incarcerated on a given day.35Michael Bochenek, “Children behind Bars: The Global Overuse of Detention of Children,” in World Report 2016 (Human Rights Watch, 2016), 41–51, www.hrw.org/world-report/2016/country-chapters/africa-americas-asia-europe/central-asia-middle-east/north; Children’s Defense Fund, “State of America’s Children 2021”; Patrick McCarthy, Vincent N. Schiraldi, and Miriam Shark, “The Future of Youth Justice: A Community-Based Alternative to the Youth Prison Model,” New Thinking in Community Corrections Bulletin (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 2016), https://doi.org/10.7916/d8-m33x-jk51; Sawyer, “Youth Confinement.” Nonetheless, any diminution in youth incarceration is, of course, an eminently welcome development, and owes in no small part to the tireless efforts of countless prison reform and youth justice activists, advocates, and intellectuals.
However, as Decarcerating Disability reminds us, such mass decarceration is not unprecedented in recent US history, and the lessons of the previous example of decarceration counsel caution and vigilance. Ben-Moshe argues that deinstitutionalization with regard to physical space and locale has largely been a success; but insofar as deinstitutionalization was not accompanied by a widespread rejection of the paradigm and logic of coercive, carceral “solutions” to disability writ large, institutional and carceral regimes of marginalization have cropped up and even expanded within the vacuums left by the previous large state-run facilities:
Today those who were discharged or never institutionalized are still under the surveillance of the . . . state, but it has furthered its reach—adhering to strict drug regimens, living in semi-institutions (group homes, halfway houses), and subjected to a variety of outpatient commitment laws and policies.36Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 2, sec. “Abolition in Deinstitutionalization and Its Aftermath,” para. 6.
Making the connection even more explicit, Ben-Moshe references a 2018 study on youth ex-carceration, i.e., the placement of criminalized youth in non-prison “alternative” programs, such as group homes. The study’s authors interviewed youth in such ex-carceral placements and found that many of them experienced the group homes as equally (if not more) insecure, dangerous, isolating, and oppressive as traditional juvenile carceral spaces. Challenging the divide between “residential placement as social welfare and care,” and “juvenile detention as retribution and punishment,” the authors conclude that “the extension of ‘community-based’ services is often no different from practices of punishment.”37Elizabeth Brown and Amy Smith, “Challenging Mass Incarceration in the City of Care: Punishment, Community, and Residential Placement,” Theoretical Criminology 22, no. 1 (February 2018): 4–5, https://doi.org/10.1177/1362480616683794.
Moreover, as Ben-Moshe notes, the overall undifferentiated magnitude of decarceration can often mask the discrete intensification of oppressive social inequities along lines of race, gender, and so on.38Ben-Moshe, Decarcerating Disability, chap. 4, sec. “From Asylums to Prisons?,” para. 6. This phenomenon certainly appears to be at play within present carceral trends. A 2018 report from Prison Policy Initiative notes that since 2009, the overall state prison population in the United States has been declining; however, nearly all of this decline has been among male prisoners, while female incarceration in many states has either remained steadfast or even accelerated.39Sawyer, “Gender Divide.” Likewise, as the overall number of imprisoned youth has declined across the US, the particular rate of imprisonment of Black youth, female youth, and disabled youth of color has disproportionately increased.40Children’s Defense Fund, “State of America’s Children 2021”; Kajstura, “States of Women’s Incarceration”; McCarthy, Schiraldi, and Shark, “Future of Youth Justice”; Olivares, “Fewer Youths Incarcerated”; Sawyer, “Gender Divide”; Sawyer, “Youth Confinement.”
Additionally, the number of public schools containing on-site “sworn law enforcement officials” has continued to follow an ascendant trend, with between 45 and 65 percent of students in the United States currently attending a school with a police presence.41Evie Blad and Alex Harwin, “Black Students More Likely to Be Arrested at School,” Education Week, January 24, 2017, www.edweek.org/leadership/black-students-more-likely-to-be-arrested-at-school/2017/01; Chelsea Connery, “The Prevalence and the Price of Police in Schools” Center for Education Policy Analysis, University of Connecticut, 2020, https://education.uconn.edu/2020/10/27/the-prevalence-and-the-price-of-police-in-schools/; Constance A. Lindsay, Victoria Lee, and Tracey Lloyd, “The Prevalence of Police Officers in US Schools,” Urban Institute, Urban Wire (blog), June 21, 2018, www.urban.org/urban-wire/prevalence-police-officers-us-schools; Olivares, “Fewer Youths Incarcerated.” Schools with a greater population of students of color tend to have a higher rate of police presence than those with fewer students of color, and across the board Black students are disproportionately targeted by police.42Whereas Black students represent 15.5 percent of overall school enrollment, they represent 25.8 percent of those referred to school police, and 33.4 percent of those arrested by school police; Blad and Harwin, “Black Students More Likely.” Similar disproportionality obtains in the case of students with disabilities. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that, in the 2015–16 school year, “Students with disabilities were nearly 3 times more likely to be arrested than students without disabilities, and the risk multiplied at schools with police.”43American Civil Liberties Union, “Cops and No Counselors: How the Lack of School Mental Health Staff Is Harming Students,” 2019, www.aclu.org/issues/juvenile-justice/school-prison-pipeline/cops-and-no-counselors. Disabled students of color face even greater rates still of out-of-school suspension, police arrest, and juvenile incarceration.44Annamma, Pedagogy of Pathologization, 9–11.
Time will ultimately tell whether the phenomenon of mass incarceration has indeed entered a period of descent from its historical peak. If it has, prison abolitionists will need to take heed in the years to come of the potential for incarceration to mutate and reappear in other forms and in other venues—especially in the event that the fundamental socioeconomic conditions that birthed and necessitated mass incarceration are not also uprooted. Beyond the abolition of ephemeral institutional forms, it is the supersession of underlying socioeconomic relations of oppression that genuine emancipation demands.