102 Ethics of Abolition

Abolition is an ethic and a way of life. Students enrolled in this lesson will learn how to apply the 5C ethical system to moral decision-making that guides right actions oriented toward communal values, accountability, and freedom. Participants are introduced to an abolition ethic that engages virtue ethics and Black Feminist/Womanist traditions. Participants will also explore tensions between law and morality. An abolition ethic is applicable for more than ending prisons, but is also for parenting, partnering, and everyday living. An abolition ethic provides principles to repair harms, restore relationships, and rebuild a more just and equitable society.

Certifying Organization

Abolitionist Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that trains faith communities, educational institutions, and civic organizations to unite against the moral crisis of mass incarceration and the criminalization of impoverished Black motherhood. Our research-based expertise and community organizing experience in connection to a national coalition grounds the learning material in this certification program.

Learning Objectives

By successfully completing this course, you will

  1. Gain an introductory understanding of social ethics, broadly, and an abolition ethic; specifically
  2. Identify the 5C virtual system and five carceral vices Understand;
  3. Explore tensions between law and morality;
  4. Explore real-life ethical issues in the U.S. carceral state; and
  5. Apply an abolition ethic to everyday living.

In this course, you are introduced to a virtue-based Abolition Ethic. You will learn how to apply the 5C value system to dismantle the carceral state and its vices. Explore how these principles help guide everyday living by providing an alternative to punishment and identifying responses to harm rooted in accountability for the good of communal flourishing. Participants will also engage in ethical dilemmas by exploring tensions between law and morality in a case study. Before we begin, Let’s look at key terms to guide our learning!


Rev. Nikia Smith Robert, Ph.D.

Founder & Executive Director

Abolitionist Sanctuary

Adriana Rivera

STAAR Curriculum Intern, Abolitionist Sanctuary

Minister of Youth and Households, Edgewater Congregations Together (ELCA)

Jazzmin Duncan

Student Abolition Ambassador


Vaughn Brown

Policy Intern, Student

Pomona College

Bithiah Negusu

Student Abolition Ambassador

Abolitionist Sanctuary

Not Enrolled

Course Includes

  • 7 Lessons
3-hour course

Beginner, College, Graduate, Continuing Education, Professional Development


<strong>Civic Education for the Common Good.</strong>

We apply the U.S. Department of Education’s Consensus Statements about Constitutional Approaches for Teaching about Religion:

▸ Our approach to religion is academic, not devotional;
▸ We strive for student awareness of religions, but do not press for student acceptance of any religion;
▸ We sponsor the study about religion, not the practice of religion;
▸ We expose students to a diversity of religious views, but do not impose any particular view;
▸ We educate about all religions, we do not promote or denigrate any religion;
▸ We inform students about religious beliefs and practices, it does not seek to conform students to any particular belief or practice.

We apply the American Academy of Religion’s “Religious Literacy Guidelines”

▸ “Religious Literacy Guidelines for College Students.” American Academy of Religion, 2019.

▸ “Teaching About Religion: AAR Guidelines for K-12 Public Schools.” American Academy of Religion, April 2010.

Special Thanks

A special thanks to the founding members of Abolitionist Sanctuary’s Board of Directors and STAAR Intern, Adriana Rivera, M.DIV. The leadership of Rev. Dr. Nathan C. Walker and the onboarding and technical support provided by his team at 1791 Delegates. The continuation of this work depends on contributions from generous supporters like you. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Abolitionist Sanctuary, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (EIN 86-2003530). With you support, we can create additional courses and certification programs to train the next generation of abolitionists.