Isabel Taylor ’18
Project Title – Evaluating Methods of Collective Action and Movement Building for Prison Reform and Abolition in Central Ohio
Other Student Participants – Philippos Alevizopoulos ’19, Deji Adebiyi ’19
Mentor – Paul Dean
The purpose of this project is to analyze and evaluate theories of movement mobilization in relation to organizing and activism around prison reform and abolition in central Ohio. Due to harsh minimum sentencing laws from the War on Drugs, racist policing tactics and methods, and the United States having the highest rates of incarceration in the world, we believe examining activism and movement building around mass incarceration to be a worthy and timely topic. The organizations Redbird Books to Prisoners, ReStart, and Horizon Prison Initiative will be profiled in order to demonstrate and examine the numerous ways in which people and groups mobilize around social issues and the effectiveness of the group’s methods in creating social change. Specifically, we will examine the structural and contextual conditions for building a social movement around prison reform and abolition; the factors affecting people’s willingness to take action; and the ways in which groups organizing around prison reform and abolition frame their issues, build resources, and shape their desired outcomes for change. Additionally, when applicable, we will consider how various activist subcultures affect movement building around prison reform and abolition and the social movement group’s abilities to work collaboratively across organizations. In summary, this project will be comparative in nature and will apply theories and concepts learned in Paul Dean’s Society, Politics, and Social Movements class to organizations in central Ohio trying to create reform and change within the prison system.