Craig Haney to talk at Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform about Reimagining American Prisons

March 25, 2015

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UC Santa Cruz psychology professor will be speaking at the upcoming Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform in Washington DC on Thursday, March 26 about how the American justice system can re-envision prisons as sites for transformative justice. Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta.
A Livestream of the Summit will be available from 8:00am - 4:30pm EST on Thursday, March 26th, 2015.

The American prison system is in crisis. According to ACLU reports, the US prison population has risen 700% since 1970. The incarceration rate is the highest it has ever been with 1 in 99 American adults behind bars. These unprecedented levels are as Attorney General Eric Holder has stressed, “ineffective and unsustainable.”

UC Santa Cruz psychology professor Professor Craig Haney will be joining Holder on Thursday, March 26 along with other leaders from government, the media, law enforcement, technology, academia and impacted communities at the Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform to address how systemic changes can be achieved in the American criminal justice system and what reforms must be made.

The summit in positioned to be a critical step in moving the national discussion forward. “With Americans of all political backgrounds beginning to question our failing prison system, the moment is ripe to capture the public imagination with a bold vision for reform. The Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform will unite leaders to discuss, plan, and launch a new movement” the organizers, #cut50 and Gingrich Productions, describe. 

The agenda reads like a who’s who in the American criminal justice movement. Scheduled to also speak includes Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, “Orange is the New Black” creator Piper Kerman, David Simon, Producer of The Wire, and others. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will be making special remarks. Donna Brazile, Newt Gingrich, Van Jones and Pat Nolan are co-hosting.

In a panel titled “Justice That Transforms: Emotional, Social, and Mental Health,” Haney will advocate for a prison system that will meaningfully address the emotional, social, and mental health needs of prisoners. Haney will emphasize how prison conditions need to be vastly improved, in-prison programming expanded, as well as a caring and effective mental health service be made widely available.

For more than 40 years, Haney has shown the devastating psychological consequences of the American prison system. He has explored the psychological impact of solitary confinement, supermax prisons, and penal conditions. In 2012, Haney testified before the US senate and more recently, to the California state legislature about the perils of solitary confinement.

Haney has been selected by the Academic Senate to give this year’s Faculty Research Lecture on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Haney's lecture is entitled "PrisonWorld: How Mass Incarceration Transformed U.S. Prisons, Impacted Prisoners, and Changed American Society". A reception in the lobby will immediately follow. Doors open at 6:30pm. This event is free and open to the public. More information.

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