Imagine a world that is more just, laws that are more compassionate and people being freer.
Georgetown Law professor and author Paul Butler is very familiar with the U.S. criminal justice system. As a former prosecutor, he once fought for long sentences. Now he’s advocating for the abolition of prisons. While that sounds extreme, in this talk he explores what would replace prisons, how people who cause harm could be dealt with in the absence of incarceration, and why abolition would make everyone safer and our society more just.
Incarceration is a relatively recent development in the history of punishment, with the first modern prison constructed in Philadelphia in the early 1800s. The American penitentiary was intended as a reform, making the institution of punishment more humane and rehabilitative. Because the United States now locks up more people than almost any country in the history of the world, this nation is perhaps the best laboratory to assess the success of the experiment. By virtually any measure, prisons have not worked. They are sites of cruelty, dehumanization, and violence, as well as subordination by race, class, and gender. Prisons traumatize virtually all who come into contact with them. Is there a better way? He posits that 50% of the prison population could be released and we would feel no effect.
Butler frequently consults on issues of race and criminal justice. He feels the system is broken and advocates for non-violent drug offenders to receive treatment rather than punishment. Abolition of prison could be the ultimate reform. Butler is not saying there should be no consequences for criminality. He calls it gradual decarceration and looks at ways to accomplish the goals of prison more effectively.
Butler is a Professor in Law at Georgetown. His most recent book Chokehold: Policing Black Men, published in July 2017, was named one of the 50 best non-fiction books of 2017 by The Washington Post. The New York Times described Chokehold as the best book on criminal justice reform since The New Jim Crow. It was a finalist for the 2018 NAACP Image Award for best non-fiction.
The criminal justice system’s impact on Latina and Latino people in Southern California and across the nation was the focus of the annual UCLA Law Review symposium at the UCLA School of Law. Featuring leading scholars and practitioners who work to uncover and combat the ways in which bias affects Latinx communities’ interactions with law enforcement, panelists addressed incarceration, policing, community organizing and criminal adjudication, plus related issues involving ethics and capital punishment.
UCLA Law professor emeritus Gerald López delivered the event’s keynote address. He captivated the crowd with reflections on his childhood in East Los Angeles in the 1950s, where he watched the criminal justice system target Latinx people — activity that, he noted, continues to this day.
“It left impressions on me that shape everything I do,” he said while encouraging budding attorneys and activists to continue his lifelong effort to respond to those challenges and “change the world.”
The Suspect Race edition of “In the Living Room” jumps right into this taut and emotionally charged issue with social psychologist Jack Glaser and Oakland Assistant Police Chief Paul Figueroa.
“The problem with profiling, or using stereotypes to make judgments,” says Glaser, “is that it can have a self-fulfilling effect.”
Glaser presents research backing this claim while Figueroa responds with insight on how police officers feel in a climate where many sense that law enforcement is under attack. The erudite Henry E. Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, hosts this candid and provocative conversation.
When it comes to aliens, fantastical creatures and mutants of all sorts, the world of science fiction and fantasy is about as inclusive as it comes.
But acclaimed science fiction writer and UC Riverside Creative Writing Professor Nalo Hopkinson asserts that the genre still has work to do when it comes to racial and gender diversity. That’s not to say she hasn’t found her niche, and it’s one she is happy to see expanding each year.
When comes to election 2012, every vote counts. Republicans and Democrats can no longer afford to ignore minority groups in their campaign messaging.
On the latest edition of “Prime: Vote”, UC San Diego Political Scientist Zoltan Hajnal, co-author of “Why Americans Don’t Join the Party: Race, Immigration and the Failure of Political Parties to Engage the Electorate,” argues that both parties can bring more minorities to the polls by addressing their specific concerns, rather than crafting campaigns that appeal primarily to whites or ignore race altogether. Hear what he has to say in the latest installment of “Prime: Vote – Embracing Race in American Politics.”