Rustbelt Abolition Radio: "What do we mean by abolition?" with Liat Ben-Moshe

If the aim of abolition is to make all space free and non-exclusive, with no boundary or border that would keep somebody in or keep somebody out, how do we reconcile that with a common sense impulse to move people out of prisons and into mental health facilities? Dr. Liat Ben-Moshe is Assistant Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Toledo and a scholar-activist who works in the intersection of prison abolition, anti-psychiatry, de-institutionalization, and disability justice. She is co-editor of Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada. I spoke with Dr. Ben-Moshe about the abolitionary mindset, and asked: what does this mindset lead us to question?

This vital addition to carceral, prison, and disability studies draws important new links between deinstitutionalization and decarceration"What an abolitionist mindset on prison really does is that it leads us to question really deep profound questions around what do we call innocence, what is harm, what do we do when people harm us, what is safety, why do we feel safe, who’s the “we”? Why do we feel safe under certain conditions and not others? And again, I’m saying who’s the “we”, I think it’s really one of the profound questions here too. Who’s not the “we”, and what are the consequences of that erasure and exclusion? It’s about vulnerability, it’s about care, it’s about so many different questions, so it’s really not about what people think about prison abolition, that it’s about closing prisons. It really crystalizes for us the society in which we live in, the values that it has, and the kind of alternative structures that we want to put in place."

Listen to/read the full interview with Liat Ben-Moshe, author of Decarcerating Disability, at Rust Belt Radio.