Criminal Justice Caucus

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Why Mass Incarceration Matters to Social Workers


DATE: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

TIME: 8:15 PM – 9:45 PM

WHERE: Columbia University School of Social Work (1255 Amsterdam Ave) | Room C03

SPEAKER: Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, Associate Professor of History at Temple University

Social workers face many challenges as they enter this nation’s big cities and small towns trying to provide services to communities in need. They deal daily with the effects of poverty, abandonment, poor education, and lack of decent employment across this country and face extraordinary obstacles as they try to battle against such inequity and want. While social workers have always faced such challenges, and while inequality and injustice are deeply embedded in the fabric of our nation and have existed for centuries, it is crucial to note the ways in which the current crisis of mass incarceration has both informed and newly exacerbated the problems faced by America’s already most fragile communities. Dr. Heather Thompson (Temple University) will discuss the current carceral crisis and offer new perspectives on its origins, on its impact, and on paths to reversing it within the academy, within communities, and within prisons themselves.

Heather Ann Thompson is associate professor of history in the Department of African American Studies and Department of History at Temple University. A scholar of African American, urban, labor, political, and policy history in the U.S. during the 1960s and 1970s, her current work centers on the rise of the carceral state during this period and the devastating long-term costs of mass incarceration. She is currently writing the first comprehensive study of the history and legacy of the Attica Prison Rebellion of 1971 (forthcoming from Pantheon Books), a study that she hopes will recapture this dramatic and complex story and underscore the event’s historical and contemporary importance. Thompson, the recipient of several research fellowships and awards, has written numerous book chapters and scholarly articles. Her article “Why Mass Incarceration Matters: Rethinking Crisis, Decline and Transformation in Postwar American History” (JAH, Dec. 2010) received the Best Article in Urban History prize from the Urban History Association. She is author of Whose Detroit: Politics, Labor and Race in a Modern American City (Cornell University Press, 2001) and editor of Speaking Out: Protest and Activism in the 1960s and 1970s (Prentice Hall, 2009). Currently Thompson is also consulting on award-winning filmmaker Chris Christopher’s forthcoming documentary of the Attica Prison Uprising.

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1 Comment

  1. […] Why Mass Incarceration Matters to Social Workers […]

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