Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The term abolition emerged during the 1830s to define a means of ending slavery. According to abolitionists slavery could be wiped out only by abandoning it and all the structures dependent on it altogether. In contrast, other antislavery activists at the time known as gradualists sought to end slavery by buying slaves and setting them free. Gradualism did little to reduce or eliminate the slave system since it did not target the root of the practice. Similar divisions exist within the field of criminal justice. Unlike other reformers who want to change, improve, or better the existing justice system, abolitionists wish to do away with it altogether. Reformers who are not abolitionists usually lobby for more humanitarian treatment of offenders, while seeking to reduce prison terms, or alter criminal law in some manner. Such a course calls for modifications—often substantial—without challenging the institutional or philosophical base on which the Contemporary ...