Oct. 16: Paul Butler - Prison Abolition, and a Mule

Paul Butler's head shot

Date: October 16, 2019

Title: Prison Abolition, and a Mule

Time: 4:10 PM

LocationBancroft Hotel, Great Hall — 2680 Bancroft Way UC Berkeley Campus

Part of: Berkeley Graduate Lectures — Jefferson Memorial Lectures

About the Lecture

Incarceration is a relatively recent development in the history of punishment, with the first modern prison constructed in Philadelphia in the early 1800s. The American penitentiary was intended as a reform, making the institution of punishment more humane and rehabilitative. Because the United States now locks up more people than almost any country in the history of the world, this nation is perhaps the best laboratory to assess the success of the experiment. By virtually any measure, prisons have not worked. They are sites of cruelty, dehumanization, and violence, as well as subordination by race, class, and gender. Prisons traumatize virtually all who come into contact with them. Abolition of prison could be the ultimate reform. The lecture will suggest what would replace prisons, how people who cause harm could be dealt with in the absence of incarceration, and why abolition would make everyone safer and our society more just.

About Paul Butler

Paul Butler is the Albert Brick Professor in Law at Georgetown University Law Center and a legal analyst on MSNBC. He frequently consults on issues of race and criminal justice. His work has been profiled on 60 Minutes, Nightline, and The ABC, CBS and NBC Evening News. Butler lectures regularly for the American Bar Association and the NAACP, and at colleges, law schools, and community organizations throughout the United States.

Professor Butler is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. He holds an honorary Doctor of Law Degree from City University of New York.  Butler served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, where his specialty was public corruption.  His prosecutions included a United States Senator, three FBI agents, and several  law enforcement officials. He currently serves on the District of Columbia Code Revision Commission as an appointee of the D.C. City Council. He was elected to the American Law Institute in 2003.

Butler’s most recent book Chokehold: Policing Black Men, published in July 2017, was named one of the 50 best non-fiction books of 2017 by The Washington PostThe New York Timesdescribed Chokehold as the best book on criminal justice reform since The New Jim Crow.  It was a finalist for the 2018 NAACP Image Award for best non-fiction.