Bernard Harcourt | Abolition Democracy | February 9, 2021

Today, as Dorothy Roberts reminds us, Black children represent a grossly disproportionate share of the child welfare system in the United States: “Even though they represent only 15 percent of the nation’s children, black children currently compose about 30 percent of the nation’s foster care population. In some cities and states, the disparity is much greater.”

Roberts proposes a new constitutional paradigm to support prison abolition, one that deploys “the abolitionist history of the Reconstruction Amendments as a usable past to help move toward a radical future.” Roberts ties together capitalist exploitation and racial hierarchy, describing a “system of carceral punishment that legitimizes state violence against the nation’s most disempowered people to maintain a racial capitalist order for the benefit of a wealthy white elite.” And Roberts argues that reform causes more prisons. Reform of the prison means more prisons, not less: “reforms that correct problems perceived as aberrational flaws in the system only help to legitimize and strengthen its operation. Indeed, reforming prisons results in more prisons.”

Originally published by Abolition Democracy. Read more here