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Bruce Jackson (b. 1936), Dominoes on Death Row, Texas, 1979; photograph; Courtesy of the artist

Bruce Jackson (b. 1936), Dominoes on Death Row, Texas, 1979; photograph; Courtesy of the artist

Lecture / Discussion  |  Being There: How Mass Incarceration Imprisons Communities

presented by McMillan Empowerment Enterprise and the Burchfield Penney

Thursday, May 16, 2013, 6–8 pm

Reception Area  

Well-known in some circles as the dean of prison culture, scholar and humanist Bruce Jackson began visiting penitentiaries in the South in the early-’60s first to record folk songs and then to interview inmates about their life in and out of the criminal justice system.

Since then, America’s incarceration rate has quintupled and risen for the past 36 years to be the world’s highest: about one in 100 adults, a total of nearly 2.3 million people.

According to the New York Times, among African-Americans who have grown up during the era of mass incarceration, one in four has had a parent locked up at some point during childhood. For black men in their 20s and early 30s without a high school diploma, the incarceration rate is so high — nearly 40 percent nationwide — that they’re more likely to be behind bars than to have a job.

No one denies that some people belong in prison but mass incarceration increases poverty, disrupts families and children left behind are more likely to suffer academically and socially.

How do we create a penal system more effective for society as a whole? Give a second chance to thousands of young ex-offenders transitioning back into their communities?

Join McMillan Empowerment Enterprise and the Burchfield Penney for a discussion on crime, custody and community, Thursday, May 16, 6 PM. The evening kicks with an exclusive guided tour of Being There: Bruce Jackson, Photographs 1962—2012. Bruce Jackson will share of his award-winning work and experiences documenting prison systems on view at the Center.

A panel discussion moderated by Buffalo News columnist Rod Watson follows:

Karima Amin, Founder/Director, Prisoners Are People Too - program promotes the growth and understanding of the plight of prisoners and their families, and the challenges of re-entry.

Ron Stewart, Ph.D., Buffalo State - a sociology professor, Dr. Stewart’s teachings focus on the African-American family, race and ethnic relations, gender studies, and community development. Dr. Stewart authored the book African-American Husbands: A Study of Black Family Life, and an array of articles focusing on African-American men.

Umar Adeyola – founder, HEART (Helping Empower At-Risk Teens) – an agency dedicated to helping address the needs of youth offenders, ages 16 -19, to help break the cycle between criminality and re-arrests rates.

Alfonso Carter – Alfonso Carter, ex-offender and successful entrepreneur - Alfonso will share his passionate reality of growing up in Niagara Falls, NY, and how he was influenced by the street life.