CURRENTLY ONLINE ONLY: We hope to pick back up with in-person Civic Conversation groups at the Library in the near future. In the meantime, please feel free to utilize our resources for your own in-person or virtual group discussions!
This event features a screening from the Netflix documentary 13th with a conversation around mass incarceration and the racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. prison system.
Potential Discussion Questions:
- Do you feel the justice system and the prisons in the US mirror the general at-large population? Do you feel that imprisonment metrics should reflect population percentages?
- Does declaring a “War on…” societal ills such as drug usage, create a surge in incarceration numbers? Is that a desirable result?
- With prison construction as an industry and prisons as large employers, do the economic forces exaggerate our incarceration levels? Are there other ways for prison and rehabilitation to work?
- Do you think a private prison industry can be reformed?
- Do you think high levels of incarceration add to or detract from the human potential of a society?
- What policies might reduce incarceration without reducing public safety?
- How often should we revisit whether our previously chosen punishments suitably fit the crime?
- It has been said by a prison warden “We want them, for lack of a better term, to feel like a herd of cattle.” What are the consequences of this mindset?
LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA RESOURCES
- Stronger Together: A Blueprint for America’s Future by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Timothy M. Kaine
- Mass Incarceration in the United States: At What Cost? hearing before the Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States
- Race, Crime, and Policing in the Jim Crow South: African Americans and law enforcement in Birmingham, Memphis, and New Orleans, 1920-1945
From the Library’s UncommonWealth Blog:
- More Than an Entry in a Register: Local Government Convict Registers
- The Business of Racism
- Virginia’s Lost Papers
- “A Frolicsome Freak of Boyhood”
- Elmer Raines
- Ben Parker
- Clifton Roberts and Sam Washington
- A book list curated by the Marshall Project on criminal justice
- This reading list includes books to aid in understanding how and why America developed its prison industrial complex and what it will take to end mass incarceration.
- A curated selection of multicultural and social justice books for children, YA, and educators.
- Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Y. Davis
- American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey Into the Business of Punishment by Shane Bauer
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson
- Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
- From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America by Elizabeth Hinton
- My Brother Moochie: Regaining Dignity in the Face of Crime, Poverty, and Racism in the American South by Issac Bailey
- Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman Jr.
Articles and Reports:
- The Lasting Effects of Incarceration in Our Local Prison System in Coast Virginia Magazine
- Virginia’s Justice System: Expensive, Ineffective and Unfair paper by Justice Policy Institute
- My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard in Mother Jones by Shane Bauer, author of American Prison
- The Business Model of Private Prisons in Investopedia
- For Private Prisons, Detaining Immigrants is Big Business in the New York Times
- Capitalizing on Mass Incarcerations: U.S. Growth in Private Prisons by Brennan Center for Justice
- The Sentencing Project compiles state-level criminal justice data from a variety of sources.
- The US Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections Virginia 2017 metrics
- A list of criminal and juvenile justice organizations by Justice Policy
- The Marshall Project hosts nonprofit journalism about criminal justice.
- Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2020 by the Prison Policy Initiative
Truths About the US Prison System playlist of engaging talks explore the systemic issues of the US criminal justice system and how they plague everyday people and society as a whole.
Other Films & Documentaries:
Cooler Bandits film Facebook page with link to view free on YouTube