Franklin Bynum Is a Texas Judge Who Wants to Abolish Prisons

Jul 02, 2019, 05:00 AM

This week on Next Left, meet a judge who believes our incarceration complex is "not a defensible system."

Franklin Bynum is a judge. Sometimes, he even wears the black robes associated with the job. But the title and the robes don't begin to tell his story. What distinguishes Bynum, a 37-year-old democratic socialist from Houston, Texas, who was elected last fall to serve on the Harris County Criminal Court bench, is his determination to unravel and replace the "oppressive punishment bureaucracies" that define our criminal justice system.

An able lawyer, who has served as a public defender and a defense attorney, he knows his way around the courts and the jails of Texas. And Bynum has reached the logical conclusion, as his Twitter profile announces, that "people need care not cages."

Bynum ran for a court post last year, mounting a campaign that proposed radical reforms. He framed his advocacy with facts, figures and humanity. It was so impressive that the conservative Houston Chronicle newspaper endorsed Bynum, along with the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, and he won along with a group  of progressive jurists who promised to make real the promise of justice.

Bynum's now on the bench and he has already taken the lead in proposing dramatic changes that would end the cash-bail system and other abuses. He's our guest this week for a exciting conversation on Next Left.


A Socialist in Every District Jacobin  Nathan J. Robinson

For County Criminal Court No. 8: Franklin Bynum Houston Chronicle Editorial Board

What is Prison Abolition? The Nation John Washington

The End of Policing Alex S. Vitale

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