What is “Abolition”?


No New SF Jail Coalition is an abolitionist coalition.

Abolition is both an organizing strategy and a political vision.


As a vision, abolition for No New SF Jails is about:

  • Imprisonment, policing, surveillance & punishment of any kind cause harm, exacerbate oppression, and should not be used
  • Violence, conflict & harm are results from social, economic & political problems that need to be dealt with through solutions that address the root cause of these issues Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.43.39 PM


  • People & communities need their basic needs met and to be treated with dignity in order for us to end violence and harm


  • Community Accountability (restorative & transformative justice practices) should fully support both the person who has done harm and the person harmed, to be supported by the community in getting their needs met and discussing/deciding on boundaries and agreements for the harm to not happen again. This process must not replicate punishment


As an organizing strategy, abolition involves:Screen Shot 2020-05-07 at 1.29.25 PM

  • shrinking and starving the prison industrial complex (in SF primarily the use of imprisonment in jailing and detention, all forms of policing, criminalization & surveillance) in order to  dismantle these systems over time
  • while transforming and changing power dynamics and conditions of society in order to shift power toward the people and our communities,
  • and building the solutions we need to live as a whole community healthy, vibrant, sustainable lives without cages, policing and surveillance

No New SF Jails has prioritized targeting jailing in SF for many reasons, first victoriously defeating plans for a multi-million dollar new jail from 2013-2015, then supporting other groups eventually defeat gang injunctions, close juvenile hall, end quality of life policing and the criminalization of homelessness, and fight different initiatives aimed at expanding funds to SFPD. In Spring 2020, we won one of our campaign goals and passed legislation that will close County jail 4 at 850 Bryant by November of this year. In every piece of our work, we aim to chip away at the entire system of jailing and criminalization in San Francisco.

What do you mean “dismantle” and “chip away“?

Dismantling means we take apart and break down piece by piece. As part of this strategy, we focus on reducing the scale and impact of imprisonment, policing and surveillance in every way possible, in order to re-invest, free-up and reallocate the City’s focus, commitment and resources to life-affirming community infrastructure, accountability systems, and collective care. We, in turn, work to uplift and strengthen the many ways that self-determination, community accountability and quality, vibrant living conditions are what truly make us safe and enable our city to thrive.

Abolition as a strategy must contain all of these parts–dismantle, change, build– in order to be successful and bring about life-affirming, multi-level change.