Symposium 2022

UCLA Law Review Symposium 2022: Toward an Abolitionist Future

Please virtually join the UCLA Law Review on Friday, January 28th and Saturday, January 29th PST for our annual symposium titled, "Toward an Abolitionist Future.”

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Register at the following link to attend the event:


 DAY ONE: JANUARY 28, 2022

9:00-9:15: Land Acknowledgment, Welcome, Introduction 

9:15-10:45: Law and Legal Institutions: Impediments to Change

 The opening panel will discuss abolition, law, lawyers, and legal institutions. Panelists will discuss law’s current role in abolitionist movements and debate whether law can be used in service of abolitionist movements. Additional questions will include: What is the role of the lawyer in producing an abolitionist future? What legal institutions and structural arrangements need to be changed to support abolitionist goals? What insights do critical perspectives of the law provide for organizers working toward the abolitionist horizon?

Panelists: Alec Karakatsanis (Civil Rights Corps), Anthony O’Rourke (Buffalo Law), Emmanuel Mauleon (UCLA Law), and Naomi Murakawa (Princeton), Robert Saleem Holbrook (Abolitionist Law Center) 

ModeratorJamelia Morgan (UC Irvine Law)

10:45-11:00: Break  

11:00-12:30: Abolition and Community

Many abolitionists imagine a world where the community has greater control over the resources and policies that affect daily life. This panel will examine the relationship between abolition and the community and consider why having empowered communities is desirable. The panelists will consider the following questions: who is the community; why do we want to give it more power; how does the community conceptualize abolition; are there people in the community who deserve a greater voice than others; what does the abolitionist future for the community tell us about democracy?

Panelists: Nse Ufot (New Georgia Project), Anna Roberts (St. John’s Law), Tiffany Williams Roberts (Southern Center for Human Rights), Victoria Copeland, Justin Hansford (Howard Law), and Kendall Thomas (Columbia Law) 

Moderator: Khaled Beydoun (Wayne State Law)

 12:30- 1:00 Break

 1:00-2:00:  Conversation between Justin Hansford (Howard Law) and Derecka Purnell, Author of Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests, and the Pursuit of Freedom

 2:00-3:30: Abolition, Pleasure, and Vice

Vice has been a site for regulating and surveilling the bodies of deviate populations. Over the past several decades, scholars and advocates have been calling from the decriminalization or legalization of narcotics, marihuana, sex work, and other forms of conduct that the law labels as “vice” crimes. Yet, this work is often siloed and rarely centered in discussions about abolition. This panel will examine how the abolition of vice crimes brings us closer to an abolitionist future.  Panelists will discuss whether the harm reduction approach to vice may be instructive for decriminalizing other forms of conduct that are currently criminalized.

Panelists: Margo Kaplan (Rutgers Law), Alex Kreit (Northern Kentucky Law), Kassandra Frederique (Drug Policy Alliance), and Alex Vitale (Brooklyn College) 

Moderator: India Thusi (Indiana Bloomington- Maurer Law)

3:35-4:05: L.A. Leaders Charting Abolition, Moderated by Patrisse Cullors, Author of An Abolitionist’s Handbook: 12 Steps to Changing Yourself and the World)

This panel will focus on the work of Los Angeles organizers who have been on the frontlines of creating abolitionist change inside of Los Angeles County.

Panelists: Melina Abdullah (BLM LA), Lex Steppling (Dignity and Power Now), Michael Saavedra (Dignity and Power Now), Christian D. Green (Cancel the Contract AV)

Moderator: Patrisse Cullors



9:00-9:10: Welcome Back, Recap of Day 1

9:10-10:40: Reimagining Public Safety

One of the primary critiques of abolition is that it does not take public safety seriously.  Abolition, however, contemplates a public that is safe from the abuses of the stand that can feel secure that state violence will not take the lives of their loved ones. In fact, there is a growing movement to reclaim the term “public safety,” which has been equated with more policing and more prisons. This movement is concerned with a “true community safety” that allows community members to be free from state violence, so that its members can prevent harm rather than just react to it. True community safety contemplates a community that is given resources for harm prevention and harm reduction and accountability measures that do not resort to punitive practices.  This panel will discuss how an abolitionist future would promote and redefine public safety.

Panelists: Allegra McLeod (Georgetown Law), Brandon Hasbrouck (Washington & Lee Law), Jocelyn Simonson (Brooklyn Law), Amanda Alexander (Detroit Justice Center), Erin Miles Cloud (Movement for Family Power) 

Moderator: Marbre Stahly-Butts (Law for Black Lives)

10:40-11:00: Break

 11:00-12:30: The Global Move Toward Abolition

The renewed prominence of abolition has in large part been sparked by the scale and visibility of police violence in the United States. Advocates around the globe have responded to these incidents of police violence and mobilized to shrink the size of the carceral system in their own countries. Nevertheless, the theory of abolition has an international lineage from the Nordic writers who critiqued “reformist reforms,” the South American theorists who debated the pragmatism of abolition, to the South African Black Consciousness theorists who questioned the authority of the state. This panel will examine the global move toward abolition and consider the tensions that occur from this perspective.

Panelists: SA Smythe (UCLA), Vanessa Eileen Thompson, Heinz Klug (Wisconsin Law), Aya Gruber (Colorado Law), Andrea Ritchie, Sandy Hudson (UCLA Law)

Moderator: Priscilla Ocen (Loyola Law School)

12:30-1:00: Break

1:00-2:30: Abolition and Technology

What is the role of technology in an abolitionist future? At present, technology has facilitated the surveillance of Black and Brown communities through predictive technologies that make being a person of color “risky;” the increasing use of technology to facilitate new forms of incarceration; and the exploitation of data to perpetuate a permanent underclass of criminally “risky” populations. The racist application of technology suggests that technology itself is risky. This panel will examine the invited and uninvited risks that technology brings to an abolitionist future.

Panelists: Chaz Arnett (Maryland Carey Law), Ruha Benjamin (Princeton), Jessica Eaglin (Indiana Bloomington- Maurer Law),  Sean Hill (Ohio State Moritz Law), and Bennett Capers (Fordham Law) 

Moderator: Ngozi Okidegbe (Cardozo Law)

2:30-2:40: Closing Remarks and Thanks