In 2016 I began teaching courses, mostly for college credit, at Jessup Correctional Institution in Jessup, MD and, two years later, also at the DC Jail in Washington, DC. Teaching in prison was something I had wanted to do for a long time, although I couldn’t have explained exactly why. Coming to know and become friends with incarcerated students, and my increasing understanding of the injustice and horrors of the criminal justice system, have given me new goals for my post-academic life. My main focus these days is on prison work and criminal justice reform (“revolution” is probably a better term).
At Jessup, I’ve taught and tutored in the University of Baltimore’s Second Chance College Program, which began in 2015; at the D.C. Jail, in Georgetown University’s Prison Scholars Program, which began in 2018.
Writings of mine on criminal justice
“Against Life Without Parole,” Washington University Jurisprudence Review 11 (2019).
“How US Prisons Violate Three Principles of Justice,” Aeon, September 19, 2016.
“Against Life and Death Sentences,” University of Tsukuba (Tokyo, Japan) Law Journal, 2020.
Good organizations focusing on criminal justice
Ear Hustle (podcast from San Quentin)
Criminal (podcast hosted by Phoebe Judge)
More Perfect (Radiolab offshoot; see especially "Object Anyway" and "Cruel and Unusual")
College Behind Bars (Lynn Novick and Ken Burns documentary)
Famous Trials (from Douglas Linder, UMKC Law School)
Witness to an Execution (audio from the Texas death house)
Blame (Radiolab episode)
Oyez (archive of the US Supreme Court)
A few good books
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michele Alexander
Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, James Forman Jr.
Chokehold: Policing Black Men, Paul Butler
Guilty People, Abbe Smith
Law Man: Memoir of a Jailhouse Lawyer, Shon Hopwood
The Meaning of Life: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences, Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis
Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform, John F. Pfaff
Unusually Cruel: Prisons, Punishment, and the Real American Exceptionalism, Marc Howard
Dark Ghetto: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform, Tommie Shelby
The Limits of Blame: Rethinking Punishment and Responsibility, Erin Kelly
Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration, Rachel Elise Barkow