After decades of get-tough-on-crime policies, the nation’s prisons now house more than 7.1 million Americans, destroying lives and communities, depressing wages, and increasing poverty, especially in already poor and under-serve neighborhoods. At the same time, the expansion of for-profit prisons, and the increasing use of prison labor is weakening the labor movement’s ability to address these problems. What strategies are being developed to stop the corporations and politicians who overwhelmingly reap its benefits? Is organized labor doing enough?
Speakers will take up this question, sharing their experience and insights as organizers, researchers and policy advocates. Heather Ann Thompson, Professor of History at Temple University and author, most recently of “The Prison Industrial Complex: A Growth Industry in a Shrinking Economy,” which appeared in the fall 2012 issue of New Labor Forum; Nicole Porter, Advocacy Director of the Sentencing Project: and Eric Lotke, Senior Research Analyst at the Service Employees International Union, which represents a range of prison workers, including mental health providers. Ed Ott, Distinguished Lecturer at the Murphy Institute, will moderate the discussion, including a Q&A with the audience.