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“Crime and Punishment: Thinking Outside the Cell”

prison-cell-smallThe massive growth in American prisons over the last four decades has burdened taxpayers, overcrowded prisons and devastated vulnerable communities. Is the criminal justice system due for an overhaul?

The Riley Institute and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Furman will address that issue this summer during a four-part series, “Crime and Punishment: Thinking Outside the Cell.”

The annual series, now in its fifth year, begins Tuesday, July 21 with a program titled “Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?” and runs on consecutive Tuesdays through Aug. 11. All sessions will be moderated by Mark Quinn., former host of SCETV’s “Big Picture.”

The sessions take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Shaw Hall of Younts Conference Center. Cost is $45 for the entire series and $15 for single events.  Cost for OLLI members is $35. To register and pay online, click here.

The series, which focuses on the South Carolina criminal justice system, will examine the data around crime, incarceration and the impact of the existing system of justice on communities, discuss the state’s law enforcement and prison system practices in light of historical and contemporary contexts, and highlight innovative programs that are being implemented in the state.

Speakers for the series include the Honorable Bruce Howe Hendricks, U.S. District Judge for the District of South Carolina; Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen; S.C. Representative Tommy Pope; S.C. Senator Gerald Malloy; U.S. District Attorney Bill Nettles; and Heather Thompson, Ph.D., a noted University of Michigan historian who has spoken and written extensively about mass incarceration.

Thompson will open the series on Tuesday, July 21 with a talk about “Why the Broken System Matters,” where she will provide historical context and data on the trends in incarceration, describe who is in jail and why, and talk about what is wrong with America’s current system of incarceration.  Thompson has written for The New York Times and The Atlantic magazine, and is the author of the forthcoming Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Rebellion of 1971 and its Legacy.

Session Two of the July 21 program will be “A View From the Statehouse: It’s Time for Bipartisan Reform,” where Mark Quinn will host a conversation with South Carolina legislators Sen. Gerald Malloy and Rep. Tommy Pope about what they are doing to improve justice in the state.

Here are the other sessions that will take place in the series:

July 28: “Police, Prisons, and Public Safety”

Session One: Law Enforcement: Protecting and Serving in Challenging Times

Session Two: Doing Time in South Carolina: A Look Inside and Beyond the Prison Cell

August 4: “Creative Justice in the Courts”

Session One: Rehabilitative Justice and the New War on Drugs

Session Two: Roundtable Discussion on Problem Solving Courts in South Carolina

August 11: “Building Communities of Justice”

Session One: Changing Lives Through Intervention

Session Two: Second Chances: Breaking Down Barriers to Reentry

A detailed schedule of events with speaker bios is available at the Riley Institute website.  For more information about the series, contact OLLI at 864-294-2998.

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