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All Our Trials
Prisons, Policing, and the Feminist Fight to End Violence (Revised and Updated Edition)

A vital history of organizing within and beyond the walls of women’s prisons in the 1970s, illuminating a crucial chapter in today’s abolition feminist struggles.

This new edition of an award-winning book features a foreword from acclaimed scholar-activist Sarah Haley and an afterword by Thuma.

During the 1970s, grassroots women activists in and outside of prisons forged a radical politics against gender violence and incarceration. Scholar-activist Emily L. Thuma traces the making of this anticarceral feminism at the intersections of struggles for racial and economic justice, imprisoned and institutionalized people’s rights, and gender and sexual liberation.

All Our Trials chronicles the organizing, ideas, and influence of those who placed criminalized and marginalized women at the heart of their antiviolence mobilizations. This activism confronted a "tough on crime" political agenda and clashed with the mainstream women’s movement’s strategy of resorting to the criminal legal system as a solution to sexual and domestic violence.

Drawing on extensive archival research and first-person narratives, Thuma weaves together the stories of mass defense campaigns, prisoner uprisings, coalition organizing, and radical print cultures that cut through prison walls. In the process, All Our Trials reveals a vibrant culture of opposition to interpersonal and state violence that both transforms our understanding of 1970s social movements and illuminates the history of present struggles for transformative justice.

  • Winner, Lambda Literary Award for Best Book in LGBTQ Studies, 2020

    "All Our Trials offers us a robust history of late twentieth-century radical feminist antiviolence organizing. Thuma reminds us that the activism of the present is built upon an important legacy of work that traversed movements and prison walls. If we are to build an abolitionist feminist future, we would be wise to pay attention to the antiracist queer feminist politics of these activists. We owe a debt of gratitude to them for paving the way, and to Thuma for chronicling their struggles.”
    —Angela Y. Davis, author of Are Prisons Obsolete? and co-author of Abolition. Feminism. Now.

    "With deep compassion, Thuma offers one of the most compelling historical analyses of how feminist activism of Black, queer, and criminalized women has worked to resist the long and dangerous reach of the carceral state. All Our Trials is an important text in the growing fields of critical prison studies and anti-carceral feminism and a critical addition to activist reading lists."
    —Beth E. Richie, co-author of Abolition. Feminism. Now.

    "All Our Trials is a tour de force. It stands among the best books on the history of modern feminist politics and represents one of the most elucidating histories of the US carceral state produced to date. Emily Thuma centers criminalized women’s ideas and organizing, providing graceful historical analysis that will undoubtedly influence current conversations about imprisonment, gender, and sexual violence. This history opens a fiercely urgent path toward an anticarceral feminist future."
    —Sarah Haley, author of No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity

    "Emily Thuma's All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing, and the Feminist Fight to End Violence is a meticulously researched intervention into histories of feminist antiviolence activism. All Our Trials is a profoundly optimistic and inspiring book. Thuma demonstrates the real power of activism and the way that organizations that are often easily dismissed as too radical or utopian can have far-reaching impacts."
    —Feminist Formations

    "A rich, textured, and elegantly written book, All Our Trials draws on a vast array of archival and oral history sources, which Thuma treats with nuance and care."
    —Journal of Women's History

    "Thuma’s book is a refreshing antidote to critiques of the feminist anti-violence movement that have ignored the activism of women of color. Highly readable and deeply archival, with many fascinating images of activists, fliers, posters, and newsletters, Thuma’s book reveals a previously neglected history of important ideological and social movement roots of the current feminist abolition movement. "
    —Journal of American History

    "All Our Trials offers a vital history for contemporary prison abolitionists seeking to make the world anew. "
    —Against the Current

    "A timely account."