Tommie ShelbyDec 30, 2022
The Idea of Prison Abolition
Princeton University Press 2022
By any reasonable metric, prisons as they exist in the United States and in many other countries are normatively unacceptable. What is the proper moral response to this? Can prisons and the practices surrounding incarceration feasibly be reformed, or should the entire enterprise be abolished? If the latter, then what? If the former, what are the necessary reforms?
In The Idea of Prison Abolition (Princeton UP, 2022), Tommie Shelby undertakes a systematic and critical examination of the arguments in favor of prison abolition. Although he ultimately rejects abolitionism as a philosophical position, he builds from the abolitionist program’s crucial insights a positive view of what it would take to create a prison and incarceration system that is consistent with justice.
Robert Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.