Global Dialogues: Mass Incarceration and Public Memory
The United States incarcerates more of its people than any country in the world – and more than at any point in its history. The numbers have exploded in the last four decades, but the crisis is rooted in much longer practices that reinforce social inequality.
How might public memory of mass incarceration foster public engagement in its future? How can the humanities join with design to activate participation in the incarceration crisis? Join a moderated conversation between two historical witnesses to the mass incarceration crisis now working to shape its future.
Tyrone Werts was released from Pennsylvania’s maximum security Graterford Correctional Institution in 2011 after his life-without-parole sentence was commuted by former Governor Ed Rendell. He was incarcerated for 36 years. Werts, who holds a BA from Villanova University, served as president of the Graterford “lifers” organization for over two decades, a tenure that saw the expansion of the organization’s mission to include community service activities and advocacy on issues related to the rights of the incarcerated. Werts is a founding member of the Inside/Out Prison Exchange Program Think Tank, founder and president of The Lifers Public Safety Initiative, and a fellow at the Open Society Foundations.
Marc Mauer is Executive Director of the Sentencing Project and author of Race to Incarcerate, a groundbreaking book on how sentencing policies led to the explosive expansion of the U.S. prison population. Mauer began his work in criminal justice with the American Friends Service Committee in 1975. His 1995 report on racial disparity and the criminal justice system led the New York Times to editorialize that the report “should set off alarm bells from the White House to city halls – and help reverse the notion that we can incarcerate our way out of fundamental social problems.”
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