Try This Exercise To Visualize A Prison-Less Future

black muslim woman in a headscarf by a window
Zain Murdock
April 5, 2024

Abolition isn’t just an idea — it’s an ongoing process of liberation. Still, that can sound so far away. So tap into your senses and imagination and visualize it. What could your world look like without prison?

Let’s start with smell. Mass incarceration is highly toxic to the environment. Without prisons, how crisp does the air smell? The trees? The flowers?

Close your eyes. In your ideal world, what do the streets sound like? Who’s there? What are their jobs? What are they doing? Do you hear laughter, shouts, or quiet conversation? If we’re handling conflict without prison, what does it sound like? 

Focus on how it feels to hear everything so far— in your heartbeat, stomach, and lungs.

Lastly, look at your surroundings. You’re where an old prison used to be. Now it’s a park. Or a freedom school. Or a rehabilitation center. Whatever you want it to be, what does it look like? What colors are there? Are there familiar faces? Are there windows, grass, stairs?

We can’t predict the future, but we can try to imagine the results of what we’re fighting for. Resisting oppressive systems takes its toll on our bodies. But regularly visualizing what our north star could tangibly be like can help us maintain our hope, curiosity, and defiance.

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