Chapter

Prison Abolition in Practice: The LEAD Project, the Politics of Healing, and a New Way of Life

Setsu Shigematsu, Gwen D’Arcangelis and Melissa Burch

in Interrupted Life

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780520252493
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944565 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520252493.003.0086
Prison Abolition in Practice: The LEAD Project, the Politics of Healing, and a New Way of Life

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In 1982, in a residential neighborhood in Los Angeles, a speeding police car hit a five-year-old boy and killed him. Susan Burton, the mother of the little boy, experienced the agony of losing her son because of this preventable “police incident.” In 1999, with her own recovery under way, Burton founded A New Way of Life (NWOL), a group of transition homes for women coming home from prison in the Watts district of Los Angeles. Burton's life reveals how an abolitionist perspective works to transform the lives of incarcerated women. This chapter elaborates how prison abolition works to transform and heal lives. It describes the transformation of Burton and the Leadership, Education, Action and Dialogue (LEAD) Project—a political education program that fosters critical analysis of the prison-industrial complex. The LEAD project grew out of a collaboration of NWOL and the Los Angeles chapter of Critical Resistance, an abolitionist organization that Burton began working with in 2003.

Keywords: Susan Burton; incarcerated women; A New Way of Life; Los Angeles; prison abolition; prison-industrial complex; LEAD; Critical Resistance; transition

Chapter.  3029 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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