Free Them All

Free Them All:A Feminist Call to Abolish the Prison System

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An indispensable guide to the feminist case for prison abolition

How does the criminal justice system affect women's lives? Do prisons keep women safe? Should feminists rely on policing and the law to achieve women's liberation?

The mainstream feminist movement has proposed "locking up the bad men," and called on prisons, the legal system, and the state to protect women from misogynist violence. This carceral approach to feminism, activist and scholar Gwenola Ricordeau argues, does not make women safer: it harms women, including victims of violence, and in particular people of color, poor people, and LGBTQ people.

In this scintillating, comprehensive study, Ricordeau draws from two decades as an abolitionist activist and scholar of the penal justice system to describe how the criminal justice system hurts women. Considering the position of survivors of violence, criminalized women, and women with criminalized relatives, Ricordeau charts a new path to emancipation without incarceration.

With a new foreword by Silvia Federici.


  • With a new foreword by Silvia Federici, this volume makes a feminist case for the abolition of the prison system as we have known it. Ricordeau deftly explores the harms of incarceration and the path to a more just system for all.

    Karla Strand, Best Books of August 2023Ms. Magazine
  • Professor Ricordeau's analysis of the absurdities of the system and the sizable obstacles facing those determined to find meaningful solutions combines scholarly discipline with a powerful, emotional appeal for justice.

    Bill LittlefieldThe Arts Fuse
  • Do prisons ever really keep women safe? For a long time, mainstream feminism has been dominated by the view that bad men should simply be locked away. But, as activist and scholar Gwendola Ricordeau argues, this carceral approach has never made women safer: instead, it only makes society's most marginalized suffer. Here, she proposes a bolder, more radical vision.