This episode is the second of a two-part focus on the subject of abolition: which denotes both a theoretical approach and a series of political and social movements that advocate for the overcoming of violent state institutions such as prisons and the police. 

In this episode, we talk to Mitali Nagrecha and Anthony Obst of the project Justice Collective, a Berlin-based European project that aims to end society’s reliance on policing and punishment by engaging in advocacy, research, public education, and organizing to reveal and resist punishment as a tool of racism and economic injustice. Our conversation centers on how abolition can look in practice and explores the questions that Justice Collective deals with, particularly in relation to their current focus on Ersatzfreiheitsstrafe (substitute imprisonment) in Germany. 

We recorded the conversation in mid-December, and just a week later, the German government agreed to pass the draft bill that Mitali and Anthony criticize into legislation. Although this news is a disappointment to Justice Collective, they are nevertheless continuing their work and building new strategies to respond to this development. 


In conversation with:

Mitali Nagrecha and Anthony Obst (Freie Universität Berlin)

Justice Collective is a Berlin-based European project to end society’s reliance on policing and punishment. Justice Collective engages in advocacy, research, public education, and organizing to reveal and resist punishment as a tool of racism and economic injustice. You can visit their website here

Mitali Nagrecha is the founder and coordinator of Justice Collective. Before moving to Berlin, Mitali launched the racism and punishment work at Fair Trials, a Brussels-based NGO, including publishing a primer on racial disparities in criminal sanctioning in Europe and writing in the press on the issue. Prior to moving to Europe, Mitali was the founder and director of Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program’s Criminal Justice Debt Initiative. With her team, Mitali advocated against the racist practice of raising state revenue by charging people fees and fines in criminal cases. The Atlantic covered her work here. During her time at CJPP, Mitali published a number of reports and articles, including The Limits of Fairer Fines: Lessons from Germany. Mitali joined CJPP with over ten years of experience researching and advocating on policing and punishment. You can learn more about Mitali’s work and publications here. Mitali earned her B.A. at Cornell University and her J.D. cum laude from The University of Pennsylvania School of Law. She also served as a Fulbright Scholar in India.

Anthony Obst is a doctoral candidate at the Freie Universität Berlin’s Graduate School of North American Studies. His dissertation draws on W. E. B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction as well as contemporary abolitionist theory and practice to trace abolition democracy as a conceptual framework in Black Marxist writing of the 1930s. As an activist, he is involved with Justice Collective and their coalition to end so-called substitute imprisonment in Germany (Bündnis zur Abschaffung der Ersatzfreiheitsstrafe). As a culture journalist, his work has appeared in Berliner Zeitung and Spex, among others.


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