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Reimagining Prison: Beginning the Journey
June 20, 2016 @ 1:00 pm - 5:30 pm EDT

We are in an historic time, where de-carceration is on the national agenda in response to decades of growth in the numbers of people incarcerated. The momentum to end mass incarceration also provides a parallel opportunity to look at the fundamental questions of the purpose and goals of incarceration, and the values that underlie its use.

That’s why Vera is embarking on Reimagining Prison, an 18-month initiative that will seek to arrive at answers to these questions and shape an actionable new vision for the decades to come. Can we place human dignity at the operational and philosophical core of corrections, as other countries do? Are we ready to shift the goal and culture of incarceration from retribution to rehabilitation, and promote transparency and safety as guiding principles?

The initiative builds on Vera’s recent work in examining international systems of incarceration (as seen on an April 60 Minutes segment that was filmed during our study tour to Germany, and related New York Times op-ed) and coincides with the 10th anniversary of our seminal report of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, Confronting Confinement.

On the cusp of a new administration and with near-consensus on the need to end mass incarceration, it’s an ideal time to be answering the simple but profound question of why and how we incarcerate. Join us as we kick off this journey on June 20th at the symbolic Eastern State Penitentiary Historical Site in Philadelphia—our nation’s first modern prison.

Program Highlights:

Reimagine This: A conversation between correctional leaders and formerly incarcerated people, moderated by Carrie Johnson, Justice Correspondent, National Public Radio. Participants are Michael Ashe, Sheriff, Hampden County, Massachusetts; Vivian Nixon, Executive Director, College and Community Fellowship; Ronald Simpson-Bey, Alumni Associate/JustLeadershipUSA 2015 JustLeadershipUSA LwC Fellow; and  John Wetzel, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

ReimaginAction: Lightening rounds by change agents Neil Barsky, Founder and Chairman, The Marshall Project; Baz Dreisinger, Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Glenn Martin, Founder and President, JustLeadershipUSA; Vikrant Reddy, Senior Research Fellow, Charles Koch Institute; and Margo Schlanger, Henry M. Butzel Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School.

iReimagine: Opportunities for audience (remote and live) input.

5:00 p.m. optional 30-minute tour
6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Program
7:308.30 p.m. Reception

RSVP is mandatory and space is limited.


June 20, 2016
1:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Vera Institute for Justice


Eastern Penitentiary
2027 Fairmont Avce
Philadelphia, PA United States
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