No. XXIX-XXX (2008)

Abolitionism. Protection of Humanistic Values

Published 2008-04-01


  • abolitionism,
  • prison system,
  • human rights,
  • value system,
  • criminology

How to Cite

Wantuła, H. (2008). Abolitionism. Protection of Humanistic Values. Archives of Criminology, (XXIX-XXX), 885–893.


This article discusses the essence, premises, and objectives of the abolitionist movement as a defence of humanitarian values. The text begins with Halina Wantuła’s definition of the term ‘abolitionism’, which covers various movements against social slavery. The author recalls the stages of evolution of the abolitionist approach in science and law, the beginnings of which can be traced back to the 1970s. The article also highlights the influence of the development of abolitionist thought on the preoccupation with the situation of convicted persons and possible abuses in this area. The author further compares the situation of prisoners to that of protesting workers, which was considered an important manifestation of the class struggle. The article emphasises that the ultimate goal of the abolitionists is to reject the penal system (abolishing prison sentences and leading to consensual and non-punitive practices). The text also shows the influence of the abolitionist movement on criminal law, which, according to the author, transpires as a theoretical perspective (relevant claims that justify the argument about the ineffectiveness of the penal system), a strategy (an offensive radical struggle for the humanisation of criminal law or a defensive gradual implementation of specific projects), and a moral call and practical activity (actions aiming at the complete abolition of prisons). In conclusion, the author suggests that in the abolitionist movement the moderate realism of its members is currently gaining the upper hand over radical extremism.


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