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Oklahoma Law Review

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The white supremacy at the heart of the American criminal legal system works to control Black, Brown, and poor people through mass incarceration. Poverty and incarceration act in a vicious circle, with reactionaries mounting a desperate defense against any attempt to mitigate economic exploitation or carceral violence. Ending the cycle will require replacing this inequitable system with the life- and liberty-affirming institutions of abolition democracy. The path to abolition democracy is arduous, but abolitionists can press for change through what I coin “movement constitutionalism.” Movement constitutionalism is the process by which grassroots abolitionist movements shift—through demands and in solidarity with each other—our understanding of constitutional theory and structure and, ultimately, democracy. By reshaping the way politicians, judges, and the public view the Constitution, abolitionists can expand the range of viable legislative and litigation remedies for our country’s history of oppression.



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