The US has just 5% of the world’s population, but over 20% of its prisoners. There are over 2.3 million people behind bars and approximately 7 million on probation, parole or in correctional facilities. Over 70 million Americans have criminal records, the same number as Americans who have College diplomas.
According to Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, mass incarceration is the most pressing racial justice issue of our time. As she and other civil rights activists, including Bryan Stevenson, have argued convincingly, slavery and Jim Crow have not ended in this country, they have simply evolved into a new racial caste system. There are now more men of color locked in cages in the US than there were enslaved in 1850. US prisons hold more than one third of the world’s incarcerated women, the majority of whom are Black and Hispanic and have experienced physical and sexual abuse, poverty and addiction. For the over 650,000 people who are released every year, the collateral consequences of a criminal record make productive re-entry almost impossible and fuel pain, trauma and high recidivism rates.
These are the questions we will explore in this program, along with issues of race and justice in the US, by meeting with formerly incarcerated people, as well as with activists, lawyers, anthropologists, journalists and others working to reform the criminal justice system.
Students will also develop skills in public speaking, advocacy and will have the opportunity to train with a photographer, journalist, documentary filmmaker or theatre practitioner and acquire specific skills in one of those fields to raise awareness of mass incarceration. Students will write articles, create a photo exhibit or devise a theatre production.
At the end of the program, students will have the opportunity to do an internship with an organization in NYC working to reform the US criminal justice system.
This program will continue throughout the 2018-19 school year. Students will organize a public symposium on mass incarceration in November 2018, and with support from the UNIS Human Rights Project, will organize events on mass incarceration in their schools.
Stipends are available to students who demonstrate a need.
CLICK HERE TO APPLY.
Michelle Alexander on the Mass Incarceration of Black America
From Slavery to Mass Incarceration