A term associated with protest on grounds of inhumanity and a call for the abolition of slavery (see, for example, the arguments of William Wilberforce, 1759–1833). More recently extended to the abolition of prisons and imprisonment. The latter stance developed within Scandinavian criminology (see T. Mathiesen, The Politics of Abolition, 1974) but has since been taken up within wider critical criminology. Abolitionists argue that prisons are ineffective, their justification untenable, and their violations of human rights widespread. The abolitionist stance rejects reformism on the grounds that this perpetuates and legitimates the existing system. Abolitionism proposes new responses to crime, offending, and disputes—for example community-based alternatives to incarceration—and argues that the urge to punish and inflict pain must be challenged.
Subjects: Regional and National History.