In this TEDxBaltimore video, Maya Schenwar explores the failures of criminal justice and imagines a world without prisons.

The United States has the highest imprisonment rate in the world. But is the problem simply that too many people are incarcerated–or is incarceration a problem, in and of itself? The US prison system, which is grounded in racism and economic injustice, is inherently destructive and must be abolished. Recorded at TEDxBaltimore January 2016.

Maya is editor-in-chief of Truthout magazine and the author of “Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better.”

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at