On April 13-14th, Students for Prison Education and Reform (SPEAR) is hosting its 5th annual conference, Shadows of the Prison, in collaboration with Princeton’s Office of Religious Life. Every year, the conference brings together over 200 participants from various universities and advocacy groups for a weekend of lectures, panels, and activist workshops. Please register here, even if you can only make parts of the programming!
Conference Theme: Shadows of the Prison
Popular discourse about mass incarceration tends to focus on the 2.3 million people incarcerated in prisons and jails, overlooking the tens of millions more who are impacted in non-caged ways by the criminal justice system. Countless people are touched by these “shadows of the prison”: the lesser-seen, under-discussed features of the criminal system which spread punishment, supervision, violence, and control beyond prison walls and deep into “free” society.
Millions of Americans live under the burden of a past conviction, their access to employment, education, housing, and social services severely curtailed. Children are intimately impacted by the incarceration of parents. Communities of color are devastated by abusive policing, urban divestment, and the theft of young people from their homes, schools, and jobs. The prison state increasingly intersects with immigration, the environment, and religious discrimination, with a disproportionate impact on low-income people, those with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community.
At Shadows of the Prison, participants and speakers will seek to shine a light on these shadows. By exploring policing, parole and probation, incarceration’s impact on families, and the dissemination of carceral logics into society, we will sharpen our understanding of how these often overlooked aspects of the prison state perpetuate harm. Illuminating these shadows more fully reveals the carceral state, which cannot be wholly dismantled until it is wholly understood.
- An opening keynote by award-winning activist and writer Susan Burton, author of “Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women.”
- Lectures by Professor Breea Willingham on the impact of incarceration on families and Dr. Teresa Smallwood on faith, organizing, and how to channel our knowledge into action.
- Three panels featuring academics and activists:
- “Carceral Logics, Carceral Shadows”
- “Parole and Probation: Punishment Beyond the Prison”
- “Police Violence and Alternatives to Policing”
- Workshops facilitated by on-the-ground activists and advocates on “Combating the Shadows.”