Saleem joined ALC in 2018 following his release from prison after 27 years of incarceration for an offense he was convicted of as a child. Saleem had a long history of organizing in defense of prisoners and social justice. In 2001 Saleem helped co-found the Human Rights Coalition, an organization founded by incarcerated people and their families to advocate against solitary confinement and to defend the human rights of prisoners. In 2005 he helped found HRC’s Pittsburgh Chapter when while imprisoned at SCI-Greene. HRC was founded at the height of mass incarceration in Pennsylvania and was the torch bearer for ALC.
In 2006, Saleem met ALC’s Legal Director Bret Grote, who joined HRC-Fed Up! as a volunteer organizing against solitary confinement. In 2014, Saleem was a founding member of the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration (CADBI), a constellation of Pennsylvania-based prisoner support groups and activists who’ve been at the forefront of the struggle to abolish Life Without Parole (death by incarceration). During Saleem’s incarceration, he was heavily influenced by the narratives and contributions of Political Prisoners in Pennsylvania including Russell Maroon Shoatz, Fred Burton, and Mumia Abu-Jamal. While incarcerated Saleem wrote extensively on political prisoners, solitary confinement, police violence, and racial discrimination in mandatory sentencing.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together during my tenure as Executive Director. We’ve built a powerful tool for organizing and defending the most oppressed, and Saleem has been an integral part of that work from the beginning. The second lawsuit we ever filed was Holbrook v. Jellen, a piece of litigation that Saleem organized from prison, even writing the first draft of the complaint. We won that lawsuit, and many more since. Saleem’s dedication, determination, and vision has been proven time and time again in the intervening years. I applaud the Board of Directors’ decision, and I can think of no better person to lead the Abolitionist Law Center during this critical period for the movement to abolish prisons and state violence.”
– DUSTIN MCDANIEL
Saleem will succeed Dustin McDaniel, who will transition into ALC Director of Operations overseeing finances and administration. “Dustin helped take an abolitionist idea birthed by activists within and outside the Pennsylvania prison system and bring it into reality. He helped lay a strong abolitionist foundation that we will be building upon for years to come. We are grateful for his leadership and we all look forward to him bringing his determination, discipline and passion into his new role within ALC.” says Robert Saleem Holbrook.
FROM THE ALC BOARD OF DIRECTORS
“Robert Saleem Holbrook is a leading abolitionist thinker, organizer, and activist. His activism on behalf of incarcerated people and his tireless work on behalf of all people facing state violence and oppression provide a model of leadership, courage, and perseverance. Saleem’s work is an example of what it looks like to implement abolitionist theory into actual change on the ground and everyday practice. His relentless drive will build upon the Abolitionist Law Center’s bold and transformative litigation, organizing, advocacy, and public education. In the legacy of those freedom dreamers who have come before him, Saleem demonstrates the power of hard work and imagination in our collective struggle to transform our society and push for radical change and liberation for all.”
– JAMELIA MORGAN
ALC BOARD PRESIDENT
“Saleem’s appointment reflects the history, vision and mission of ALC, and that is to abolish class and race based mass incarceration in the United States, litigate on behalf of people whose human rights have been violated in prison, and to prioritize the struggle to acknowledge and free all U.S. held Political Prisoners. Saleem’s life experience, involvement and community respect makes his appointment truly revolutionary. After having sacrificed decades in prison, we stand behind his dedication uttered in his own words: “Having been sentenced to death by incarceration as a juvenile, I am committed to doing everything I can to bring others home.”
– JIHAD ABDULMUMIT
ALC BOARD MEMBER
FORMER POLITICAL PRISONER