Fall 2013 Lecture Series
All lectures are on Fridays at 12:00pm in Lazter Hall, University YMCA.
Rethinking Security: Beyond Mass Incarceration
Taking on a year-long look at the state of security in America, the Fall Friday Forum series, Beyond Mass Incarceration, will peer deeply into current issues revolving around incarceration and will feature expert views on current issues at the local, state, and national levels. Friday Forum is a weekly lecture series held during the fall and spring semesters that strives to raise awareness about national and international trends and events.
September 6- Darrell Cannon
Jon Burge, Chicago Police Torture and Justice for Survivors
(Watch lecture video)
In 1983, Darrell Cannon was tortured by Jon Burge of the Chicago Police Department, forcing him to confess to a murder he didn't commit. In 1986, while ensconced in the Illinois prison system, Cannon had sought to vindicate his constitutional rights in federal court. He filed a handwritten complaint alleging that he was tortured and seeking money damages from his torturers.
Unbeknownst to him, his court appointed lawyer, and the public at large, his torture was in fact part and parcel of a widespread secret pattern and practice that was spearheaded by Burge and implemented by the crew of detectives who tortured Cannon. As a result of this ignorance, in 1988, well before the newly discovered evidence of torture had surfaced, Cannon accepted the City of Chicago's offer of a nuisance value settlement of $3,000, of which he netted $1,247.
After Mr. Cannon was exonerated in 2004, he filed a new suit in federal court, seeking damages for the more than two decades of wrongful imprisonment that he suffered as a result of his tortured confession. Darrell Cannon will speak out about organized police torture rings, Chicago style, and discuss the work of finding justice for survivors, exemplified in the work of People's Law Office, a Chicago civil rights law firm.
September 13- Rebecca Ginsburg
Teaching on the Inside: Reflections from the Education Justice Project
(Watch lecture video)
There were formerly hundreds of college-in-prison programs in the United States. Then Congress passed the 1994Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and disallowed the use of Pell Grants for incarcerated students. Their funding withdrawn, almost all American prison higher education programs closed down.
Unfortunately, the need for higher education within our nation’s prisons didn’t go away. Indeed, as incarceration rates continued to rise and the disproportionate racial impacts of imprisonment became more entrenched, the need for prison education programs only grew stronger. In this climate, the Education Justice Project, a unit of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was formed.
Rebecca Ginsburg is a co-founder and current director of the Education Justice Project, a college-in-prison program based on the Urbana campus that offers educational programs at Danville Correctional Center. She is also a faculty member on campus in the Departments of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership and Landscape Architecture. In her talk at the Friday Forum she will make a case for higher education in prison based on her experiences at Danville prison and her students’ stories. She will also explain how prison higher education serves not only incarcerated students, their families, and the communities from which they come, but also the host institution (in this case, the Urbana-Champaign campus) and its students.
September 20-Jesse Hoyt
No More Detention: The Intersection of Incarceration and Immigration
(Watch the lecture video)
Jesse Hoyt from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights will discuss the exploitative processes and undemocratic consequences of for-profit detention centers that target undocumented Americans. This talk is in context of a recent proposal to open a for-profit immigrant detention center in Joliet, Illinois, and the work done to shut down the proposal.
He will expound upon the context of private prison operators who set out to profit from the deepening immigration crisis in the United States. Companies like Corrections Corps of America (CCA) have seen steady growth due to the country's policy of locking up immigrants in privately-managed detention facilities. Companies like CCA have spent millions to shape this policy, win contracts, and ensure that the rules are fixed in their favor - all at the expense of some of the country?s most vulnerable people.
Jesse Hoyt is the West Suburban Organizer at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Jesse works with ICIRR members to build leadership in emerging immigrant communities in the West Suburbs and in Central Illinois. Jesse helps drive strategy and policy change by working with immigrant organizations, civic groups, labor and business communities.
Jesse Hoyt is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he earned a bachelors degree in Sociology focusing on Community Organizing and Labor Studies. Jesse worked with students and community leaders in Champaign-Urbana to organize the first immigrant led coalition to address issues of immigration and fight for local policy change. Currently Jesse works in Aurora, Joliet, Bolingbrook, Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington-Normal
September 27-Angela Davis
Abolishing the Prison-Industrial Complex
Professor Davis's political activism began when she was a youngster in Birmingham, Alabama, and continued through her high school years in New York. But it was not until 1969 that she came to national attention after being removed from her teaching position in the Philosophy Department at UCLA as a result of her social activism and her membership in the Communist Party, USA. In 1970 she was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List on false charges, and was the subject of an intense police search that drove her underground and culminated in one of the most famous trials in recent U.S. history. During her sixteen-month incarceration, a massive international "Free Angela Davis" campaign was organized, leading to her acquittal in 1972.
Professor Davis's long-standing commitment to prisoners' rights dates back to her involvement in the campaign to free the Soledad Brothers, which led to her own arrest and imprisonment. Today she remains an advocate of prison abolition and has developed a powerful critique of racism in the criminal justice system. She is a founding member of Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. Internationally, she is affiliated with Sisters Inside, an abolitionist organization based in Queensland, Australia that works in solidarity with women in prison.
Like many educators, Professor Davis is especially concerned with the general tendency to devote more resources and attention to the prison system than to educational institutions. Having helped to popularize the notion of a “prison industrial complex,” she now urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a 21st century abolitionist movement.
During the last twenty-five years, Professor Davis has lectured in all of the fifty United States, as well as in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the former Soviet Union. Her articles and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and she is the author of nine books, including Angela Davis: An Autobiography; Women, Race, and Class; Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday; The Angela Y. Davis Reader; Are Prisons Obsolete?; a new edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; and The Meaning of Freedom.
Former California Governor Ronald Reagan once vowed that Angela Davis would never again teach in the University of California system. Today she is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies Departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 1994, she received the distinguished honor of an appointment to the University of California Presidential Chair in African American and Feminist Studies.
October 4- Mariame Kaba
Neighborhood Portraits of Juvenile Justice in Chicago
(No video recording available)
Mariame Kaba is the founding director of Project NIA. From 2004 to 2009, she was a program officer at the Steans Family Foundation where her work focused on education, youth development and evaluation. Mariame has been active in the anti-violence against women and girls movement since 1989. She is the co-editor [along with Michelle VanNatta] of a special issue of the journal about teen girls' experiences of and resistance to violence published in December 2007. She has served on several boards and is proud to be a founding member and founding board chair of the Chicago Freedom School. Mariame considers herself above all to be a social justice educator. She has taught high school and college students in New York City and in Chicago. She has developed and taught courses about the history of black education, youth violence, urban education, and contemporary social issues at Northeastern Illinois University and at Northwestern University.
Most recently, Mariame has published a series of neighborhood-specific juvenile justice data snapshots and co-authored a report about juvenile arrests in Chicago titled "Arresting Justice" (with Caitlin Patterson).
State Accountability for Treatment of Its Children
(Watch the video)
Dana Kaplan is currently the Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL), a state-wide legal and advocacy organization dedicated to the reform of Louisiana’s juvenile justice system based in New Orleans. Prior to joining JJPL, Dana Kaplan was a Soros Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City, focused on detention reform. At CCR, Ms. Kaplan worked with community groups and government on developing alternatives to detention and downsizing local jails in states including Tennessee, California, Ohio, Louisiana, and New York. She was also the State-wide Organizer for the New York Campaign for Telephone Justice, a partnership between CCR and two prison family organizations that successfully reduced the cost of all phone calls from New York State prisons by fifty percent. Ms. Kaplan has also been on staff at the Brooklyn-based Prison Moratorium Project, where her efforts helped stop the construction of a youth prison in upstate New York and two youth jail expansions in New York City. She has consulted with national organizations including The National Resource Center on Prisons and Communities and the National Education Association (NEA), developing a curriculum for teachers on Education not Incarceration. She currently serves on the Advisory Council for the National Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, an effort to end the practice of sentencing children to life without parole sentences nation-wide, and FREE, a New York City based organization of individuals with loved ones in prison organizing for criminal justice reform. Ms. Kaplan holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and received a John Gardner Fellowship for Public Service.
October 18- Paul Wright
Prison Profiteering and the Color of Corrections
(Watch the video)
While serving 17 years in the Washington State Reformatory, Paul Wright started Prison Legal News , a publication dedicated to prisoners’ rights. Now, he’s co-edited a book, Prison Profiteers, that exposes those making money at the expense of the nation’s 2.3 million prisoners. As the Editor of Prison Legal New's, Paul Wright is responsible for the content of the monthly magazine and PLN's website. He is also the executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center, of which Prison Legal News is a project.
October 25-Erica Meiners
Ending our Expertise? Feminisms, the 'prison crisis' and abolition
(No video recording available)
A teacher, researcher and movement builder, Erica R. Meiners participates with local and national campaigns linked to educational justice, anti-prison movements, and queer liberation struggles. She is the author of several books including Flaunt It! Queers organizing for public education and justice (2009), Right to be hostile: schools, prisons and the making of public enemies (2009) and articles in AREA Chicago, Meridians, Academe, Social Justice, Women’s Studies Quarterly and No More Potlucks. Currently at work on a book Intimate Labor for University of Minnesota Press, her work is supported by funds and awards from national and local organizations such as the Illinois Humanities Council, Woodrow Wilson Foundation for Public Scholarship, Atlantic Philanthropies and the U.S. Department of Education. She is a member of her labor union, University Professionals of Illinois, and actively involved in a number of non-traditional and popular education projects including an anti-prison teaching collective (http://prison-industrialcomplex.blogspot.com/) and the Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education (CReATE, create.bogspot.com).
In 1998 she co-founded and still teaches at an alternative high school for men and women exiting prisons and jails, and in 2011 started a work with others to organize educational programs at Stateville Prison, just outside of Chicago. A Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Education at Northeastern Illinois University, Erica has also been a visiting scholar at the Institute for Research on Race and Pubic Policy (2011-2012), and a Lillian Robinson Scholar at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute in Montreal (2009-2010). Into running, beekeeping, jam-making, and action movies, Erica is an avid science fiction fan.
November 1-Grace Bauer
Families Unlocking Futures: Solutions to the Crisis in Juvenile Justice
(Audio available soon)
Grace Bauer is the mother of three children from Sulphur, Louisiana whose first exposure to the juvenile justice system came as the parent of a court-involved youth who, at age 14, was sent to the notorious Tallulah Correctional Center for Youth where he was abused and mistreated. When it became clear that there was no system accountability for her son’s treatment, and nowhere to turn for help or redress of grievances, Grace became a passionate advocate for juvenile justice reform. She began working as a special education advocate with Families Helping Families of Southwest Louisiana, forging alliances with other parents struggling with similar family situations.
Grace helped organize these parents to form the Lake Charles chapter of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC). The chapter became an integral part of the “Close Tallulah Now Campaign” which successfully advocated for the passage of the Louisiana Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2003 and, soon thereafter, led to the closing of the infamous Tallulah juvenile prison. Based upon these successes, FFLIC quickly became known as the nation’s premier parent organization campaigning for greater fairness, reduced incarceration, improved services and better conditions of confinement in juvenile justice.
As the Director of FFLIC’s Lake Charles office, Grace rapidly recruited and trained new members, successfully increasing FFLIC’s visibility and influence as a community stakeholder. Grace’s personal experiences with the juvenile justice system made her a dedicated advocate, organizer and an especially impassioned public speaker.
In 2008, Grace joined the Campaign for Youth Justice in Washington, DC and began organizing families from around the country to stop the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating children as adults. In the summer of 2009, Grace started the National Parent Caucus (NPC), now known as the Alliance for Youth Justice. In less than 2 years, the NPC grew from a handful of families into nearly 500 families in 39 states.
In November of 2011, Grace joined Zachary Norris to build Justice for Families (J4F). J4F is the first national family-driven organization committed to ending the youth incarceration epidemic and the reinvestment of resources in youth, families and communities most impacted by our nations over-reliance on incarceration. In her role at J4F, Grace has focused on creating a network to link families and their organizations, planning and building of a shared learning environment for families, leadership development of families and through reform of policy and practice, greater awareness of the critical need for family voice and power at all decision making points in the juvenile justice system.
November 8- Barbara Kessel
Fight Against Mass Incarceration in Illinois
Barbara Kessel was a Distinguished Professor of Chicago City Colleges - Truman college, City-Wide College, and Malcolm X College. She taught English, composition, ESL and Public Speaking. In 2004, she retired and moved to Champaign-Urbana, becoming involved with Books to Prisoners, the Friends Meeting, and CU Citizens for Peace and Justice. She founded Community Courtwatch and the Three R's (Reading Reduces Recidivism) that serves state prison libraries. In 2010 she received the ACLU Chalmers award for extraordinary service in the cause of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. She also received the 2010 McKinley Foundation Social Justice Award. in the community individual category.
The Fall 2013 Friday Forum lectures series, Rethinking Security: Beyond Mass Incarceration, is sponsored by the University YMCA, YWCA of the University of Illinois, Jan & Durl Kruse, The Chapel of St. John the Divine, CU Branch of AAUW, League of Women Voters of Champaign County, LGBT Resource Center, Champaign County ACLU, Dr. Anne Robin, Wesley United Methodist Church,Wesley Foundation at the University of Illinois, Education Justice Project, The Center for Advanced Study, Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church, Bruce and Helen Berndt, School of Architecture, Department of Psychology, Department of Landscape Architecture, Paid for by SORF.