Citations abound in this well-documented memoir that ties Purnell’s personal inquiry to the events that have ignited national interest in policing reform. While her narrative is densely fact-packed throughout, Purnell is able to deftly lead the reader through the ins and outs of the abolitionist mindset so that it is clear and comprehensible for all, including those who, like her, might be initially skeptical.
Purnell, a human rights lawyer and organizer, argues convincingly that police departments and prisons are irredeemably implicated in racist ideologies and the perpetuation of violence despite long-standing efforts at reform ... Purnell offers persuasive accounts of how racial biases produce 'daily injustice' not just in policing and the courts, but in housing, labor, and education, and she links systemic discrimination in the present day, as well as specific instances of police violence against African Americans, to the legacy of slavery and colonialism. She also skillfully relates strategies employed by contemporary reform movements to 'a history of freedom and resistance,' and this long-term view contextualizes her own conclusions about the need for a thorough reimagination of what might properly constitute law and order. One of the strengths of the book is the author’s illuminating reflections on her own experiences with the failures of policing, her tactics as a civil rights lawyer, and her philosophical evolution as an activist. Another is Purnell’s deft framing of the search for solutions to violence and various forms of exploitation as part of larger—in fact, global—attempts to advance 'decolonization, disability justice, Earth justice, and socialism' ... An informed, provocative, astute consideration of salvific alternatives to contemporary policing and imprisonment.
... idealistic and impassioned ... Purnell places abolition within a social justice framework that includes decolonization, environmental justice, and disability rights, and forcefully disputes the notion that more policing is necessary to stop 'senseless violence,' arguing that drug decriminalization and programs to address health care, housing, and income disparities would 'undermine the conditions that lead to violence and police contact.'Her vision of what abolition looks like features neighborhood councils, conflict mediation centers, and green teams to foster sustainability. Bold and utopian, yet grounded in Purnell’s experiences and copious evidence of how reform efforts have fallen short, this is an inspiring introduction to a hot-button topic.