Last updated: November 2020

“Remember to imagine and craft the worlds you cannot live without, just as you dismantle the worlds you cannot live within.”

- Ruha Benjamin

This resource guide offers sources on policing, prisons, and punishment. In general, I’ve tried to list shorter pieces, articles, and listening/viewing material. Though the sources are organized thematically, there is no issue in the carceral state that doesn’t intersect with another; therefore, most of the categories are necessarily false divides used for purposes of organization. In places where I’ve listed books, a link to the book or to an interview with the author is included. …

We must stop legitimizing incarceration for one group while advocating against it for another.

Covid-19 has presented a crisis — one that’s especially visible in prisons, jails, and detention centers, where an inability to social distance, daily regimes of brutality, and persistently unsanitary conditions make incarcerated people particularly vulnerable.

Many have identified that the risk of coronavirus spreading through punishment facilities does not just threaten those on the inside (though even if this were the case, it should be reason enough to take action). …

First published at Christians For Abolition

“Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself.”

From the book of Hebrews, this reminder to remember has been largely forgotten by Christians — as have those in prison themselves. In fact, far from advocating for those in prison, American Christians have historically been vocal supporters of imprisonment, and even the death penalty.

There are certainly exceptions to the rule of Christian ambivalence toward those in prison. Prison chaplains have worked in prisons for centuries, acting as spiritual advisors, counselors, and listening ears. …

This week, I attended “Making and Unmaking Mass Incarceration: The History of Mass Incarceration and the Future of Prison Abolition,” a conference held at the University of Mississippi.

As conference organizer Garrett Felber announced at the start, the conference would be “unapologetically abolitionist.” And unapologetically abolitionist it was, bringing the imaginative power of the abolitionist project into the unlikely space of slaver-named Ole Miss.

In reflecting on the past couple days, I want to highlight some key takeaways from my time at MUMI.

Abolition is about building. Not everyone is on the same page, and that’s okay. We spar it out as we build.

“It’s important to spar, and to work out our differences.” This line came from Ruth Wilson Gilmore, who was making the important point that not everyone in the room — and certainly not everyone in the abolitionist movement — is on the same page, and that there’s no need to pretend otherwise. …

July 2019

Can you love the sinner and hate the sin? Several years ago, I wrote a letter answering that question with an emphatic no. Nearly three years and countless conversations later, I’ve changed my mind, and am writing again today with a new answer: Maybe you can. But even if you could, it wouldn’t matter, and I wouldn’t care. We need to look beyond intentions and assess outcomes, and the outcomes of a non-affirming theology are fundamentally harmful.

Some background: I came out the summer before entering college. Buzzing with a gap year’s worth of practicing vulnerability, I sheepishly approached my parents and broke the news. Though the announcement was hardly news to my parents, it was a grueling one for me. I grew up in the white, Christian suburbs of Buffalo, where heterosexuality was the only and obvious mode of existence, and homophobia the implicit, and often quite explicit, norm. So, it was risky business to shatter lifelong expectations, ones that had been drilled into me by years of assurances that relatives were already praying for the woman I’d one day marry. …

Note: I originally posted this letter as a Google doc in October 2016, during my sophomore year of college. I’m re-posting it here as I attempt to gather the things that I write in one place, and as I continue to write about similar topics.

October 2016

When talking to most of my friends at Princeton about my experiences around some Christians, they’re shocked to find out that there are still people whom I personally interact with who think homosexuality is a sin or “condition,” that same-gender relationships are inherently sinful, and that marriage is and can only be between a man and a woman. …


Micah Herskind

abolitionist. tweeting @micahherskind.

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