Call for papers: Community Justice and Abolitionism

There is a rising interest in penal abolitionism internationally. In the US, longstanding calls for radical alternatives to the criminal legal system gained significant momentum with the killing of George Floyd, connecting with Black Lives Matter activism and calls to defund the police. In the UK, alongside a long tradition of penal reform, an abolitionist pulse has remained evident among critical criminologists. This theoretical position has attracted increasing attention within the mainstream of the discipline and there has been a growth in scholarly and academic engagement with the ideas of abolitionist theory and practice, recently for example, in the work of Coyle and Scott (eds) (2021) Scott (2018 and 2020) and activist collectives such as Cradle Community (2021).

Visions of abolition vary, as does the potential means for working towards this. Several perspectives exist that reflect on different aspects of governance, resource allocation and engagement with state power, particularly in relation to how ‘crime’ and ‘punishment’ are defined. However, the long-standing vision of most abolitionists is the goal of reducing, replacing, or eliminating prisons and creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment. This vision extends beyond penal issues to other areas of public policy and includes calls for the dismantling of borders, immigrant detention, policing and state surveillance.

While much attention has focused on prisons, and to some extent policing, the role of ‘communities’ and ‘community justice’ is crucial. Given the attention that BCJC gives to publishing groundbreaking and lively articles which stimulate policy and practice debates on community justice, this special issue aims to attract discussion and debate that engages with the community justice implications of abolitionism. Discussions of abolitionism, in theory, policy and practice require engagement with communities and the forms of community justice that might be possible as alternatives to the expanding penal estate. Alternatives to the current penal system require reflections on the reallocation of funds and resources and alternative ways of ensuring safety and security for people. We welcome papers that:

• Critically engage with the meaning and concept of ‘abolitionism’ in the context of community justice.
• Consider what an abolitionist approach might mean for community justice and communities, and what potential there may be for radical alternative approaches.
• Explore how existing community justice initiatives might contribute to the work of establishing communities that are safe for everyone, particularly engaging with issues of diversity and inequalities.
• Provide examples of community-based alternatives to policing and punishment.
• Reflect on the concept of, and potential, for ‘transformative justice’ as an alternative to current punishment systems.

We welcome articles from early career researchers as well as established authors, practitioners, and community activists. If you have an idea for an innovative way to contribute (for example blog, podcast or book review) then send an abstract of up to 200 words to the special edition editors:

Abstract deadline: 16 October 2023
Paper submission: 22 April 2024
We look forward to receiving your submissions,

Special Edition Editors:
Kathryn Chadwick, Margaret S. Malloch,
Principal Lecture, Professor of Criminology,
Manchester Metropolitan University University of Stirling,

For any other queries about the journal contact:
Please note that papers should be no longer than 7,000 words (including references but excluding the abstract).

Kevin Wong Co-Editor of the British Journal of Community Justice