In “Policing is a Threat to Public Health and Human Rights”, abolitionist public health practitioners put forth the following definition: “We define abolitionist public health as work directed towards at the dissolution of the PIC, recognition of its discriminatory roots, and the implementation of interventions that tackle the social, economic and political determinants of health at the root of societal problems, thus making policing obsolete.”
It may seem difficult for public health practitioners, students, researchers, and government employees to advocate demands like defunding the police or abolishing prisons. However, as you have explored through this guide, there are many ways that we can challenge the prison industrial complex by working against harmful collaborations between public health and law enforcement, offering public health strategies that legitimize or expand police and prisons, and advocating against ineffective reforms. Just as much as it is about about tearing down harmful systems, abolition is about building health and life affirming networks of care that we know create public health: accessible and safe housing, a living wage, a healthy environment, a strong public education system, well-funded and ongoing national, state and local pandemic preparedness programs. It is crucial that what we are building works against and repairs how previous systems have caused harm, particularly towards Black, Indigenous, people of color and other marginalized communities. The following selected resources provide insight into health equity, reparations, and eliminating policing from public health institutions.
Who To Follow
TowardsAbolition.com is a learning and action guide developed for people
involved in the public health field including students, researchers, and practitioners.
Last updated May 2021