Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Erin Runions

Reader 2

Susan Phillips

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

Ki'Amber S. Thompson


Environmental Justice defines the environment as the spaces where we live, work, and play. The Environmental Justice (EJ) Movement has traditionally used this definition to organize against toxics in communities. However, within EJ work, prisons or policing have often not been centralized or discussed. This means that the approximately 2.2 million people in prison are excluded from the conversation and movement. Additionally, communities and activists are identifying police and prisons as toxics in their communities, but an analysis of policing and prisons is largely missing in EJ scholarship. This thesis explores the intersection between prisons, policing, and pollution. It outlines how prisons, policing, and pollution are connected and reveals why this intersection is critical to understand in Environmental Justice (EJ) scholarship and organizing. Based on interviews with formerly incarcerated individuals in San Antonio, Texas, and a case study of the Mira Loma Women’s Detention Center in the Antelope Valley of California, this thesis expands the realm of EJ work to include and center the spaces of prisons and policing and complicates the definition of toxicity as it has been traditionally used and organized against in the EJ movement. I argue that policing and imprisonment are toxic systems to our communities and contradict and prevent the development of safe and sustainable communities. Thus, understanding prisons and policing as toxic to both people and to the environment, we should move toward abolishing these toxic systems and building alternatives to them. To this end, or rather, to this new beginning, [prison-industrial-complex] abolition should be explored as a framework within EJ to push us to fundamentally reconsider our ideas of justice, to better and differently approach the practice of making environmental justice available for all because abolition is not only about dismantling, but it is largely about building more just, safer, and more sustainable communities. This thesis brings abolition and EJ discourses together to assess the potential for coalition building between abolitionists and EJ activists to work toward a common goal of building safe, sustainable, and more just communities for everybody. I conclude that abolition should be embraced as a framework within EJ to liberate our carceral landscape and to imagine, and subsequently, create a new environmental and social landscape.