December 2018

Dear friends, supporters and comrades, 

We’ve been incredibly busy this year strengthening campaigns, building relationships, sharing resources, and scaling up our organization, coalitions, networks and the movement to dismantle the prison industrial complex (PIC). As we look to our past, take stock of the present, and dream about what is to come— we know that this is a significant milestone. This year marks 20 years since the first Critical Resistance conference. We invite you to join us in celebrating our successes and to invest in the future of Critical Resistance.

The organizational work of Critical Resistance (CR) that emerged immediately after the historic 1998 conference popularized the idea of the  PIC and made “abolition” a practical theory of change.

In the past twenty years, we have hosted 4 national conferences, developed creative campaigns and projects across the country, and re-ignited a grassroots movement to challenge the idea that imprisonment and social control equal safety. Our campaigns, vision and  strategies have been shared and used as blue-prints across the US and internationally, touched millions of lives, and seeded abolition into anti-prison and anti-policing resistance. Your gifts will continue to put abolition into practice.

Our history. Our impact.

Between 1997-2010, we hosted 4 national and regional conferences that brought together over ten thousand people. CR organized with hundreds of movement partners across the country to seed the current PIC abolitionist movement.

Through advancing a critical understanding of prison industrial complex and abolition, CR has consistently inspired individuals, organizations and communities to take creative and practical steps to build this liberated future.

Together, we achieved many victories against imprisonment.

  • We halted California’s 20-year prison building boom through leading the Stop Delano II campaign (1998-2008);
  • We starved the California prison system of millions of dollars intended for  new cages and cofounded the now-70-organization-strong Californians United for Responsible Budget (CURB) coalition;
  • We defied jail expansion in Los Angeles, CA since 2004 and inspired dozens of organizations and thousands of people to take up the call of “No more jails” in LA;
  • We stopped the construction of a new jail in the Bronx with the Community in Unity coalition in New York City (2006-2008) and last year reignited the  calls for “No New Jails” in NYC;
  • We brought jail expansion to a standstill in San Francisco for the past 6 years with the No New SF Jail Coalition.

We’ve specifically built power and campaigns with imprisoned people:

  • With imprisoned people’s loved ones, we built the Amnesty for Survivors of Hurricane Katrina campaign in New Orleans to identify, expose and stop the use of imprisonment, policing and surveillance as the state’s response to natural and unnatural disasters.
  • We founded The Abolitionist newspaper, a bilingual political education and organizing publication that reaches over 6,500 imprisoned people across the U.S. for free, three times a year; 
  • We advanced the call to abolish solitary confinement in California and run media, outreach and legislative strategies for the 30,000-prisoner strong California Prisoner Hunger Strikers with Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition and the Short Corridor Collective at Pelican Bay (2011-2015);

  • We defeated draconian package and visiting restriction proposals in New York State that would have limited contact between imprisoned people and their loved ones (2017, 2018);

  • We published numerous campaign reports and study materials featuring the expertise of imprisoned people.

We have challenged the power of policing and won concrete victories.

  • We eliminated racist gang injunctions in Oakland, CA with the Stop the Injunctions coalition, modeling the first complete grassroots victory against this policy in the country (2010-2015); 
  • We defeated Urban Shield, the largest SWAT team training and weapons expo in the world, with the Stop Urban Shield coalition (2013-2018);
  • We cut proposed police expansions in Portland, OR in half with Care Not Cops, stopping the addition of over 35 new police positions and saving Portlanders $6 million (2018).


CR continues to boldly and humbly advance abolition as a necessary vision for change and concrete organizing strategy through these campaigns and more. This year we have given over 200 workshops and presentations this year to over 4,000 people, and reached thousands more through media and materials publication.

CR currently has 4 chapters, 2 national abolitionist educator projects, and hundreds of movement partner organizations all across the country.ur chapters are leading twelve local campaigns and projects, as well as supporting many partner initiatives and local coalitions. Your gifts help chapter campaigns that fight to stop local jail expansion, chip away at the violence of policing and develop resources that prioritize people, not police and prisons.

Solidarity across prison walls

Every year in the holiday season, CR chapters send personalized cards to our growing list of over 6,500 partners currently imprisoned in jails, prisons and detention centers. We host Prisoner Solidarity Mailing Parties to engage our movement communities in pulling off this ambitious and meaningful project. Included here is our 2018 postcard featuring art by Leslie Lopez, a visionary East Oakland artist organizer with Eastside Cultural Center (Oakland, CA) and Few and Far Women, a national mural and graffiti team. Your gifts make this mailing possible! A poster version is also available for sale with all proceeds supporting the Prisoner Solidarity mailing.

In addition to donating, you can send this card to a loved one of friend currently imprisoned; to someone and encourage them to learn about and support CR; or hang it somewhere visible and spread the message of abolition throughout the year.

Building for our future

Through a generous and committed donor, Critical Resistance has acquired a 9,000 square foot building for our permanent use in Oakland, CA! In an era of intensified gentrification and displacement, we are heartened to create this accessible organizing hub for working class, Black, Brown, immigrant, and pro-queer movements and communities in the Bay area and beyond. Every gift will support the local and national campaigns and projects that flourish in this space!

Seizing a similar opportunity, CR Portland (CR PDX) has opened the  Dismantle, Change, Build Center (DCBC) in Northeast Portland, a historically Black working class neighborhood. CR PDX took over the lease of a longstanding feminist bookstore that was closing to ensure that Portland would have a vibrant and accessible space for liberatory organizing and abolitionist programming. DCBC has already become a thriving hub, home to over 10 organizations and small scale vendors. Please support this visionary resource with a thoughtful gift to CR PDX.

Fighting to Win, Fueling our Future

We are channelling the heat and ferocity of our first 20 years into our future and build to scale with the current urgency for abolition. In 2019, we will add 3 new staff positions to deepen our organizing and begin a national abolitionist training school for our membership and movement. We invite you to reflect on the power of our history and dream about the potential of our future. Please give big today so we can keep building and fighting to win!
You can:
  • Donate $20, $200, $2,000, or $20,000 for our 20th anniversary. Please support us by giving online or sending a generous check.
  • Become a monthly sustainer online or by check (some workplaces have giving programs!) to keep CR strong.
  • Subscribe or donate to The Abolitionist, our bilingual newspaper that we send to imprisoned people for free.
  • Spread the word to family and friends by sharing our website, posting on social media, and encouraging people to support CR.
  • Host a house party, workshop or presentation to benefit CR and share our materials and vision.
Thank you for joining us on this transformative path. Together, we will continue to build the movement to dismantle the prison industrial complex and make real our steps towards the abolitionist horizon!
With deep appreciation,
Jess Heaney     Lily Fahsi-Haskell   Mohamed Shehk
Critical Resistance Co-Directors
And the CR National Fundraising Committee
P.S. Our organizing is growing and we need your support. Every gift will help expand what we imagine is possible and advance concrete wins for our people in these dire yet inspiring times.

Thank you!