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Abolition Doesn’t Undermine Safety — Its Goal Is Safety for Everyone

If policing, prosecution and incarceration created safety, the U.S. would be the safest country in the world.

What do successful alternatives to policing, prosecution and prison actually look like? And how would they work? A group of Chicago’s leading public safety, health and justice innovators gathered at the DePaul Art Museum last summer to provide much-needed clarity on these crucial questions.

Artists, survivors of violence, organizers, entrepreneurs and business leaders, public defenders, policy experts, restorative justice practitioners and system-impacted people sat down for a series of conversations while exploring Remaking the Exceptional, a groundbreaking exhibition on torture and incarceration.

The conversations expose common myths about crime and punishment and explain a range of critical issues, including copaganda, pretrial detention and the criminalization of survivors. They also delve into powerful nonpunitive routes to addressing harm, such as restorative justice and violence interruption.

The following short film — the third in a series named after the exhibition and produced by Zealous, Truthout and Teen Vogue — focuses on the movement for abolition. It explains what abolition means; how abolitionists are confronting questions of harm, crime, punishment and justice; and how transformative solutions require a willingness to move beyond the status quo.

The film features Sharlyn Grace and Takenya Nixon, both from the Cook County Public Defender’s Office; artist and activist Bella BAHHS; Love & Protect member Chez Rumpf; and advocate and policy expert Briana Payton from the Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts.

Read more on abolition from Truthout and Teen Vogue.

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