Race, Education, and Criminal Justice Conference

September 5, 2012

A public event with speakers, art, and dialogue on Saturday, Oct. 6

TACOMA, Wash. – Lawyer and scholar Michelle Alexander did not mince words in January 2012 when she told American listeners to National Public Radio that our prison system is “more like a caste system than a system of crime prevention or control.”

The acclaimed author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is not alone in urging the country to face the continuing issue of racial inequality. Tacoma itself is hearing more from parents, academics, and officials horrified by what has been described as the “school to prison pipeline.”

Sobering statistics illustrate the stark disparities. Though the United States only has 5 percent of the world’s population, it incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. In Washington state African Americans are incarcerated at 6.4 times and Latinos 1.3 times the rate of whites. Where does this lead? One in nine African American children and one in 28 Hispanic children in this country have at least one parent in prison. The effect on their education and lives can be devastating.

On Saturday, Oct. 6 at the 2012 Race and Pedagogy Conference on Race, Education, and Criminal Justice the public will have the opportunity to consider the connections between education and criminal justice systems, children, families, and communities. The conference will take place at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, home to the Race and Pedagogy Initiative. Registration details and conference highlights are below. Everyone is welcome to attend.

The conference will examine the role that education and schooling, from early childhood through adulthood, can play in either perpetuating or challenging racial disparities and the epidemic of incarceration.  It will look at the geography of the crisis and at local experiences of opportunity and justice. It will engage participants from a range of communities and institutions in a dialogue aimed to connect efforts and develop strategies to change the systems that currently produce disenfranchisement and stigma, into ones that release human potential and promote lifelong learning, wellness, and civic revitalization.

Keynote Address
“Cradle to Prison Pipeline: How About our Children?” by Ericka Huggins, human rights activist; poet; professor at California State University, East Bay; and former Black Panther leader and political prisoner

Concurrent Sessions:
The School-to-Prison Pipeline
Education Inside the Prison System
Post-Release Education and Transition

Artist Presentation:
Paul Rucker, musician, composer, visual artist, and activist

Multi-media Presentation and Live Art Installation:
Gilda Sheppard, The Evergreen State College, Tacoma professor; film maker; and activist

Attendees, speakers, and organizers will discuss ways to connect, collaborate, and take action.

Register at www.pugetsound.edu/raceandpedagogy.Registration cost, including lunch, is $100. Scholarships and group rates are available. Programmers are committed to access for all. Check the website for program updates. For further information contact: raceandpedagogy@pugetsound.edu or 253.879.2435.

Earlier Public Event:
On Friday, Sept. 21, a symposium titled “Examining the School-to-Prison Pipeline” will be held. It is organized by the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA) of Washington state and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. To register, email sackspa@dshs.wa.gov or contact JRA at 360.902.0881.

On a positive note, organizers of the Race and Pedagogy Conference on Race, Education, and Criminal Justice quote U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who said in a July 2 press release that Americans’ capacity to ensure “that our educational system is a doorway to opportunity—and not a point of entry to our criminal justice system—is a critical and achievable goal.”

In response to this national call for action, we invite you to join us on Saturday, Oct. 6, at University of Puget Sound, for a day of learning and teaching, of connecting and caring, and of questioning and partnering for action in the pursuit of educational and social justice.

For more about the Race and Pedagogy Initiative visit: www.pugetsound.edu/raceandpedagogy

For directions and a map of the campus: www.pugetsound.edu/directions.xml

Photos on page: Top right: A time chart of the number of incarcerated Americans (U.S. Bureau of Justice and Justice Policy Institute); Above left: Ericka Huggins.

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