Bringing prisons out of the shadows and into the public eye is the mission of Prison Awareness Week, which will take place at The University of Toledo Monday through Saturday, April 8-13.
The events are sponsored and planned by the UT School for Interdisciplinary Studies; departments of History, Criminal Justice and Social Work, Philosophy and Religious Studies; UT Inside/Out Prison Exchange Program; Phi Alpha Theta history honor society; UT Libertarians; and UT Program in Law and Social Thought.
The UT efforts are part of a larger coalition, Toledoans for Prison Awareness, whose members include the American Civil Liberties Union (Northwest Ohio chapter), Lucas County Libertarian Party and Move to Amend Toledo.
Each day of Prison Awareness Week has a different educational focus, with literature and displays in the Student Union from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and events scheduled for the afternoon or evening.
Listed by date, themes and events will include:
Monday, April 8: Facts and Faces of America’s Prisons
• Filmmaker Derrick A. Jones will show his documentary, “The Great Incarcerator, Part 1: Dark Little Secret,” at 4:30 p.m. in Student Union Room 2591.
• Ben Turk of the Red Bird Prison Abolition Project will talk about how the volunteer group in Columbus, Ohio, wants the prison system to end. He will speak at 6 p.m. in Student Union Room 2591.
Tuesday, April 9: Drug Policy, Civil Rights and Prisons
• Rob Salem, UT clinical law professor, will discuss “Civil Rights, Public Health and Prisons” at 4:30 p.m. in Student Union Room 2591.
• Howard Rahtz, retired Cincinnati police officer who is with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, will address “Why Some Cops Say Legalize Drugs” at 7 p.m. in the Law Center McQuade Auditorium.
Wednesday, April 10: Women & Families Behind Prison Walls
• Mary Dwyer and Joe Clark, longtime volunteers at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio, will talk about “Marysville: Women’s Prisons, Women’s Issues” at 4:30 p.m. in Student Union Room 2591.
• “Support Networks for Families of the Incarcerated” will be discussed by Joyce Pierce of Families Behind Bars, Germaine Kirk of the Catholic Charities Toledo Diocese and former inmate Rob Hatcher at 6:30 p.m. at St. Andrews Episcopal Church 2770 W. Central Ave., Toledo.
Thursday, April 11: Voices From Prison
• Dr. Peter Linebaugh, UT professor of history, will talk with Lucasville “survivors” Ishaq Alkhair and Abdush Shakur at 4:30 p.m. in Student Union Room 2582.
Friday, April 12: Conference
“The Prison System: At Large and at Home,” Libbey Hall.
Morning speakers will start at 10 a.m.; topics and speakers: “Mass Incarceration and American Exceptionalism” by Dr. Renee Heberle, UT associate professor of political science; “Liberty for Sale: An Inside Look at Prisons for Profit” by Mike Brickner, director of communications and public policy, American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio; and “Our Prison System: A Failure in Every Aspect” by Richard Kerger, attorney.
Roundtable on “The Prison System at Home” will start at 1 p.m. Dr. Lynn Bachelor, UT associate professor of political science, will moderate; speakers will be Waverly Earley, Citizens Circles; Deborah Hodges, court administrator, Lucas County Juvenile Court; Jim Prager, Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities; Karen Shelper, Monroe Street United Methodist Church; and Ed Sheldon, warden, Toledo Correctional Institution.
Afternoon panel on “Healing and Hope” at 3:15 p.m.; topics and speakers: “Restorative Justice and Prison Reform” by Dr. Morris Jenkins, UT professor and chair of criminal justice and social work, and former inmate Aaron Thomas Kinzel.
Conference attendees are invited to continue the discussion at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2770 W. Central Ave., with a free soup and salad meal at 5 p.m.
Saturday, April 13: “Inside/Out: Breaking Down the Walls That Divide”
Program inside Toledo Correctional Institution, 10 a.m. Learn about education and the prison population, including the Inside/Out Program, where college students learn alongside incarcerated students.
There will be an improvisational theater performance at noon; Inside/Out alumni will reflect on their experiences in and out of prison and on prison programming.
Anyone hoping to attend the session must email firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, April 10, to gain entry to the prison.
For more information on the week’s events, go to tinyurl.com/prisonweek or contact Dr. Cynthia Ingham, UT assistant professor of history, at email@example.com.