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What you need to know:

  • “Abolition for the People” is the first book released under Kaepernick Publishing.
  • Reforms seek to tweak the system. Abolition seeks to dismantle it.
  • The U.S. strongly considered prison abolition in the 1970s.

“Abolition for the People: The Movement For A Future Without Policing & Prisons” is now available in print, e-book and audio formats. 

Edited by civil rights activist and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, it represents the first book released under Kaepernick Publishing. The release comes five years after Kaepernick, who had played six seasons for the San Francisco 49ers, took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism in the United States.

Colin Kaepernick intends to build a better world

Kaepernick paid severely for his activism. Despite joining the rankings of some of the most notable quarterbacks in NFL history, the 49ers chose to release him following the 2016 season. He remained an unsigned free agent throughout the 2017 season, which led to accusations that he was being blackballed from the league. Moreover, then-President Donald Trump called him a “son of a b*tch”.

By 2019, Kaepernick had reached a private settlement with the NFL after no team would sign him. Since then, he’s focused his energy toward the pursuit of social and racial justice. He’s partnered with NIKE and other high-profile brands to elevate the calls for transformational change.

Now, two years after launching Kaepernick Publishing, the release of “Abolition for the People” intends to utilize a new generation of writers with diverse views to “build a better and more just world,” according to their website.

What is prison abolition?

When people hear the word “abolition,” slavery often comes to mind. The fight to abolish slavery represents one of humanity’s most important achievements. Yet, abolition itself is simply the act of ending a practice or institution. It can be applied to various systems. Loosely, prison abolitionists believe incarceration harms society more than it helps. Alternatives to incarceration include restorative justice, by which communities collectively work with both the victim and the perpetrator of a crime to come to a solution on how to heal the victim and provide restitution.

A 1976 pamphlet, “Instead of Prisons: A Handbook for Abolitionists” detailed three pillars of abolitionism. They include a moratorium or halt on all new prison construction, decarceration or a mass release of prisoners who don’t represent a threat to society, and excarceration, which means finding ways to divert people away from the prison-industrial complex.

At one time in the U.S., prison abolition almost became a mainstream concept, due largely to the work of civil rights trailblazer Angela Davis.

“My question is, Why are people so quick to assume that locking away an increasingly large proportion of the U.S. population would help those who live in the free world feel safer and more secure?” Davis once asked, according to the Harvard Gazette.

Davis, a longtime prison abolitionist, began her career as an unapologetic communist professor in California. She rose to fame in the 1970s after a gun she purchased was used in an armed takeover of a courtroom in Marin County, California. The 1970 trial involved a Black Panther.

Davis overcame murder charge to lead as prison abolitionist

Jonathan Jackson attempted to free his brother, George, a member of the Black Panthers. Jackson smuggled guns into the Marin County Courthouse during the proceeding of another Black Panther. Jackson armed convicts and took the judge, deputy district attorney, and three jurors as hostages, according to archives from the University of California – Los Angelos (UCLA).  During the escape, the judge and several convicts were killed in an exchange of gunfire.

The guns were registered by Angela Davis, who had ties to the brothers.

On the run, the FBI eventually added Davis to their most wanted list. She became only the third woman to ever make the list. After her capture, Davis gained nationwide and international support. Charged with murder and kidnapping, she pleaded not guilty. Ultimately, with the help of high-profile, communist attorneys, an all-White jury found her not guilty of being complicit in the murders that took place.

Since then, she’s written books, spoken at conferences, and has continued to teach college students about prison abolition. 

Decades ago, the U.S. strongly considered prison abolition

Notably, in the 1970s the idea of abolishing prisons was actually catching steam. Newly published books highlighted how, despite having the world’s highest incarceration rate, the United States was not the safest country on Earth. Organizations began to endorse a moratorium on all new prison construction. At least one Republican Senator began to have a change of heart. 

In 1972, Congressman Stewart McKinney spent 36 hours in a prison to understand the other side. According to the Associated Press, the congressman “emerged from prison an emotionally strained man.”

Calling the current prison system a “big waste of money and human life,” McKinney told reporters “I can’t see consigning any human being to this kind of existence.”

Yet, decades later, the United States continues to hold a quarter of the world’s prisoners despite only making up five percent of the world’s population.

“This is a measure of how difficult it is to envision a social order that does not rely on the threat of sequestering people in dreadful places designed to separate them from their communities and their families,” Angela Davis once said. “The prison is considered so natural and so normal that it is extremely hard to imagine life without them.”

Likewise, calls to abolish the current system of policing have faced obstacles, as well. Calls for reforms, such as better training, bodycams, and more oversight have been tried and implemented, yet police continue to kill 1,000 civilians on average each year, according to Mapping Police Violence.

As debates rage on how to solve the epidemic of police lynchings and mass incarceration, Kaepernick Publishing hopes to educate a new generation of readers on what abolition could look like in 2021 and beyond.

To order “Abolition for the People” visit 

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...

5 replies on “Kaepernick Publishing releases book on abolition of police, prisons”

  1. Turning Black Women Into Shields & Targets

    Prior to this book being released, a petition to change the book cover gained over 40,000 signatures on, as well as multiple social media influencers bringing attention to this book, pointing out the negative image the book cover creates by using the image of a dark skinned black woman as the face of fighting against the police. This is problematic for a multitude of reasons. Colin Kaepernick has more influence than the average black women, and instead of using black women as a sacrificial item to abolish the police, he could have used an image of himself, or even black men to fight for injustice and the tragic phenomenon of police brutality against the black community that has had help being covered up by other police officers and higher powers.

    Another problem this imagery creates is masculinizing the image of black women, such as making them a greater power than black men by pushing them to take measures to combat the majority white police institution, when a large population of women actually need protection from the police. About 4 black women are killed every day. There is a over abundance of black women and girls going missing and a lack of effort of preventing that from happening in the first place, and a lack of effort being put into investigating the disappearances and more so finding the women and girls safe, bringing them home, instead of finding their remains and finding out who took their lives. Black women are more likely to be in abusive situations or be assaulted and not report the incidents to the police. Not because they have a deep hatred for the police, but because they have been victimized into staying silent to protect their abusers. This imagery would only create a rift between black women and the police, making black women seem combative and aggressive. If the police were abolished, the rates of black women being abused would increase drastically and I am against that from happening.

    There is more I could say but I’ll end with this final statement. Colin Kaepernick is not someone who genuinely has the best interest for black women since he is not black himself. He is biracial, raised by his white mother. He has not lived a black experience. Just because he might look “somewhat black” doesn’t mean his phenotype is who he is as a person. He doesn’t even know about black women’s issues. He has never spoken on them. I know this to be a fact because he and all the people responsible for this book including the artist ignored all the people reaching out to them to remove this negative image of the “strong black woman” they’re leading with to promote a whitewashed Biracial man’s book. Colin Kaepernick only spoke out for some black issues because his Arab wife told him to, which he has said on the record, so he could gain financial support for going through the motions of being a ‘civil rights activist.’ So in totality, Colin is only releasing this book to gain more attention even though he is getting a lot of backlack from black women. That wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t ignore them, which only shows what kind of a person he really is: a puppet.

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