The Future of Policing and Justice: what does it all mean?

Why is Policing in the Spotlight?

The death of George Floyd at the hands of police on May 25th served as a catalyst for widespread protests all over the USA. What began in Minneapolis soon spread to most major metropolitan areas in the USA. Other cases such as Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and Rayshard Brooks (among many many others), began a nationwide conversation regarding policing and the history of police and black communities. These events brought about a surge of ideas that one point were considered fringe (even among people critical of police actions), such as de-funding and abolition. Media outlets such as NPR began running articles highlighting these ideas and the city of Minneapolis would eventually vote to dismantle their police force. Along with this shifting narrative around  policing, there is also a shifting narrative regarding justice and punishment with restorative justice being sought out as a replacement to the prison system. This blog post aims to define and highlight the ideas of policing reform, de-funding, and abolition along with  restorative justice. The relationship and discussion around these terms is extremely complicated and cannot be fully explained in a blog post. However, with the growing shift of discourse around policing and justice it is important for us as information professionals to connect patrons to resources and definitions. The bulk of this post will focus on policing, although restorative justice will be defined and featured in some articles.

Terms and Definitions:

Encyclopedia Britannica: Restorative justice

Center For Justice & Reconciliation: What Is Restorative Justice

Reform, Defund or Abolish the Police? by Jason Scavone.

Calls to reform, defund, dismantle and abolish the police, explained. by Ben Kesslen.

The Importance of Minneapolis
Because of the events surrounding George Floyd’s death, Minneapolis has become the center of much of discussion surrounding the future of policing in the USA. It is important to note that much of the legislation passed by the city is still relatively new.NPR Code Switch: How Much Do We Need The Police?

All Things Considered: Minneapolis Mayor Wants ‘Full Structural Revamp,’ Not Abolition of Police Department

Defund and dismantle: Minneapolis looks towards a police-free future by Susan Du, Emily Cassel, and Hannah Jones.


These articles below explain what police reform is as well some of the controversy surrounding the Minneapolis PD’s reform attempts.

What does actual police reform look like? More training and more oversight by Charles Blain.

Before George Floyd’s Death, Minneapolis Police Failed to Adopt Reforms, Remove Bad Officers by Jamiles Lartey and Simon Weichselbaum

8 Can’t Wait, explained by Matthew Yglesias


These articles below explain what de-funding is, and how it seeks to change the role of policing.

There’s a growing call to defund the police. Here’s what it means by Scottie Andrews

Defund the police? Here’s what that really means. by Christy E. Lopez

The Rush to Redefine “Defund the Police” by Melissa Gira Grant


By far the most complex and comprehensive discussion about the future of policing. The large amount of articles below, cover various aspects of what abolition entails.

If You’re New to Abolition: Study Group Guide by abolitionjournal

Are Police Obsolete? by V. Noah Gimbel & Craig Muhammad

What a World Without Cops Would Look Like by Madison Pauly

Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police by Mariame Kaba

Police Abolition: A Curated Collection of Links by The Marshall Project

The Deep Roots-and New Offshoots-of ‘Abolish the Police’ by Ruairi Arrieta-Kenna

8 to Abolition is Advocating to Abolish Police to Keep Us All Safe by Leila Raven, Mon Mohapatra, and Rachel Kuo

Additional Reading

“I Don’t Want to Shoot You Brother” by Joe Sexton

The City that Really Did Abolish the Police by Katherine Landergan

How racist policing took over a American cities, explained by a historian by Anna North

Boston police union ‘angry, frustrated, insulted’ by lack of public hearing on sweeping reform bill by Benjamin Kail

10 Nonfiction Books on Why We Need to Defund the Police by Jae-Yeon Yoo

George Floyd, Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery & Amy Cooper| The Daily Show

Are Prisons Obsolete -Angela Davis

Carceral Capitalism -Jackie Wang (not available in MLN)

The End of Policing -Alex S. Vitale

This blog post is a collaborative effort by the Robbins Library EDI (Equity, Diversity & Inclusion)  Task Force.

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