5 Concerns About Abolition’s Viability, From Someone Who Just Heard of it Yesterday

I support protestors wholeheartedly and am all for reform and police accountability. However, in the last 24 hours I have been hearing a lot of (young people!) talk about outright abolishing the police force, and needless to say, I’m incredulous. Now more than ever, we need to be listening to each other, so I hope you will take the time to listen to these top concerns about the viability of police and prison abolition from me: a person who first heard about it yesterday.


Who will stop crime?

I get that over-policing is a problem, and I even think some minor drug laws are racist by design (an idea I just thought of!), but there’s no denying that violent crime exists. Without police to protect people from being raped, robbed, and murdered, won’t society turn to complete chaos? I mean seriously, won’t it? I instinctively feel the answer is yes, and for me, that’s all I need to go on.


We can’t just not have prisons.

This is not so much a concern as it is a declarative statement based on nothing, and I hope you can respect that. It’s pretty clear that the prison system is an —unfortunate, sure— but unavoidable aspect of modern society. I’ve heard it said that American slavery was another economically and socially essential system that was thought by many to be morally wrong but infeasible to overturn, but it’s apples and oranges. Slavery had to be abolished at any cost because it was absolutely evil, and I, a white person who has never personally known anyone incarcerated, just don’t see prisons that way. Criminals are bad, why do you think we call them criminals?!



Let’s return to my question about stopping crime.

Without police to protect people from being raped, robbed, and murdered, won’t society turn to complete chaos? I know I already asked this, but because I have not done any research or listened to those patiently responding to me since, I still have no answers! I know that the criminal justice system is broken, but sadly we will never know if there’s a better way. I’m as disappointed as you.


Shouldn’t we reform the police to help them work better?

Even if we could, why throw out what we can fix? Police need more resources, not fewer! We should properly fund them for racial bias training and body cameras. I’ve heard radicals claiming that the system isn’t broken but rather serving its purpose of violently oppressing Black and brown communities, but I don’t buy that. Once on St. Patrick’s Day, I asked a cop the best way to get across 5th avenue, and he told me. Would a bad person do that? Confused by me conflating my individual experience with issues of racism baked into the core of policing? Try and keep up!


It’s simply not possible.

The bottom line, and most pressing concern, is that abolition is simply not possible. As soon as I heard of it yesterday, I knew this to be true. Allegedly, scholars and activists have been writing about and working toward abolition for many decades, but I guess they wasted their time because it clearly can’t work. My opinion is of equal value to anyone else’s!


So thank you for taking the time to educate yourself on my concerns. I’m glad I can now lay this issue to rest and never think about it again, except for the occasional knee jerk reaction when someone else brings it up!