VU Divinity School hosts Conference on Prison Industrial Complex

Michelle Alexander

Michelle Alexander

A “Re-Visioning Justice in America” Conference is being held April 17-19, 2015, at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville. This conference brings together people from across the nation to collaboratively, imaginatively and effectively envision new ways to challenge the problems of mass incarceration and the death penalty.

Keynote speakers include Michelle Alexander, JD, a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar, and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness; Bryan Stevenson, JD, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, professor at New York University School of Law, and author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption; and Howard Zehr, PhD, pioneer in restorative justice, professor at Eastern Mennonite University and author of Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice.

Bryan Stevenson Photo credit Robert Fouts

Bryan Stevenson
Photo credit Robert Fouts

Several presentations, panels, and workshops will be offered, addressing a variety of topics. All conferences events will take place on the Vanderbilt University campus, except for Michelle Alexander’s keynote at Christ Church Cathedral and the worship service at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church.

Saturday from 8:00 am—3:00 pm – Registration, Information Fair, Book Sales & Art Display, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Rm 124; 9:00—10:30 am, Music by Nashville Harmony and Keynote Address by Howard Zehr, Benton Chapel, Open to the public for $10.

10:45 am—12:00 pm Conference Session I will consist of five separate concurrent sessions: Incarceration for Fun and Profit—Mostly Profit: Alex Friedmann. Wilson Hall 103.

Black Lives Matter: Resisting Racialized Violence and Militarization in Ferguson and the Prison Industrial Complex: Asher Kolieboi, DJ Hudson and a former insider TBA. Buttrick Hall 102.

Roundtable on Higher Education in Prisons: Omari Booker, Claudette Bordis, Victoria Bryan, Julie Doochin, Dawn Bell Fears, Richard Goode, Adam Shelby and Andi Stepnick.: Divinity School 122.

The Religious Roots of Incarceration and Theological Resources for Resistance: Ellen Armour, Damien Durr, Andrew Krinks, Christophe Ringer, Amy E. Steele and Davie Tucker, Jr.: Divinity School G23.

Forever a Felon: The Pitfalls of Re-Entry: Pippa Holloway, Jim McNamara, Andrew Ross, Ndume Olatushani and Morris Rays: Buttrick Hall

1:45–4:00 pm a Special Session: Transformative Justice in Action:. Mariame Kaba of Project NIA, Chicago, and Danielle Sered of Common Justice in Brooklyn, NY.: Divinity School G23.

1:45—3:00 pm Conference Session II five more separate concurrent sessions:

The Cradle to Prison Pipeline: The Cradle to Prison Pipeline is an urgent national crisis that leaves a Black boy born in 2001 with a one in three risk of going to prison. Damien Durr, Rasheedat Fetuga, Ndume Olatushani and Casey Wilson. Wilson Hall 103.

The Death Penalty as an Instrument of Racial Tyranny in the United States: Joe Ingle. Divinity School G20.

Unruly Bodies: Talking Gender and Sexuality in Jail and Prison: Asher Kolieboi, Damien Domenack, Lauren Kay Brinkley-Rubinstein and Alex Chambers. Buttrick Hall 102.

51 Years a Slave: The Lie in Truth-in-Sentencing : Jeannie Alexander and Preston Shipp. Buttrick Hall 101.

“My Existence is Political”: Black Feminist Freedom Dreams in the Prison Capital of the World: Deon Haywood, Mwende Katwiwa, Laura McTighe and Shaquita Borden. Divinity School 122.

3:15—4:30 pm Conference Session III – five more separate concurrent sessions:

R.E.A.C.H. Coalition: Reciprocal Education and Community Healing from Tennessee’s Death Row: Lisa Guenther, Carmela Hill-Burke, Amy McKiernan, Tom Williams, and Robin Paris. Divinity School G20.

The Death Penalty: A New Conversation about a Broken Public Policy: Ndume Olatushani, Stacy Rector and Charles Strobel. Divinity School 122.

The Making of the Criminal: Race, Class, Gender and Mental Illness: Jeff Blum, Alex Chambers, Ainka Jackson, Andrew Krinks, Christophe Ringer and Aniya Wiley. Wilson Hall 103.

An Opportunity for Real Reform: Can Left, Right and Center Collaborate to Reduce Incarceration? Gene Guerrero, M. Kay Harris, Jesselyn McCurdy and Lao Rubert. Buttrick Hall 102.

The Legal and Ethical Justification for Incarceration and Competing Models of Reform: Phyllis Hildreth, Alistair Newbern and Preston Shipp. Buttrick Hall 101.

Keynote Address —7:00—8:30 pm by Michelle Alexander, Christ Church Cathedral, 900 Broadway Nashville, TN 37203. $10 cash at the door, 8:30—10:00 pm Reception.

SUNDAY, APRIL 19. 8:30—9:45 am Conference Session IV – three more separate concurrent sessions:

Prisoner as Slave: The Hope of Abolition:Jeannie Alexander, Tatiana McInnis, Samuel X, and Lisa Guenther. Divinity School 124.

A Formula for Change: Advocacy in the Courts, the Legislature and the Streets: Sekou Franklin, Daniel Horwitz, Ainka Jackson, Hank Sanders, Stephanie Teatro and Hedy Weinberg. Furman Hall 114.

Serving Life: Transforming Death Row: Lynden Harris, Peter Kuhns and Jennifer Thompson. Divinity School G23.

10:00 am—2:30 pm CONCLUSION—Going Forward: What are Alternatives to the Caging and Killing Machinery of Mass Incarceration? Howard Zehr and Joe Ingle. Location: Divinity School 124, with ACTION PLENARY —BREAKOUT— REPORTING— 2:00—­2:30 CLOSING COMMENTS by Howard Zehr and Joe Ingle.

3:00—4:30 pm Ecumenical Worship Service at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, 2708 Jefferson Street, Nashville, TN 37208 (open to the public and free of charge).

To keep up to date with the Working Group’s activities, and conference announcements, “like” our FaceBook page at: https://www.facebook.com/revisioningjustice
All are welcome to the Re-Visioning Justice in America conference, regardless of resources. Please pay for this conference as you are able, according to the following guidelines for suggested registration:
Professional: $125; Community Member: $45; Student: $25. To attend the Keynote sessions only, $10 a session.

The “Re-Visioning Justice in America” conference is a gathering of those motivated to resist mass incarceration and the death penalty.