Fall Speakers Forum 2019 &
Ervin Constitutional Issues Program

October 7-10 • Leviton Auditorium • WPCC, Morganton, NC

Graphic for the 2019 Speakers forum with stylized words Incarceration in America

Fall Speakers Forum 2019 &
Ervin Constitutional Issues Program

October 7-10 • Leviton Auditorium • WPCC, Morganton, NC

Join us as we discuss the legal system and dispensing justice in America.

The issue of incarceration and the criminal  justice system is a contentious one, involving how to balance victim rights against those of the defendant. The 2019 Speakers Forum features discussions of  race, sex, rehabilitation and privilege in relation to those incarcerated. As always, the public is invited to the events during the forum and are encouraged to participate in the discussons.

The Fall Speakers Forum/Ervin Constitutional Issues Program is sponsored by the Western Piedmont Foundation and has a long history at WPCC; the first forum was held in 1967. It is an annual event, hosted by the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Senator Sam J. Ervin Library, and consists of three days during which students, faculty, staff, and the local community explore a timely topic and engage in conversation. We have an archive of prior Speakers Forum topics. Interpreters will be provided at the events.

The Fall Speakers Forum 2019 Schedule

Each presentation is scheduled in Leviton Auditorium, located in Moore Hall on the Western Piedmont Community College Main Campus. They are all open to the public, and admission is free. 

The Past As Present: The Historic Role Of Race In The Development Of Today’s Racialized Mass Incarceration

James E. Williams Jr.
Monday, October 7 • 7:00 p.m.

James E. Williams Jr. is a retired Chief Public Defender for Orange and Chatham Counties and the founder and board member of the North Carolina Public Defender Committee on Racial Equity. He is the recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Award, the North Carolina ACLU Frank Porter Graham Award, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Citizenship Award. Mr. Williams will give an overview of mass incarceration as one of the major challenges facing our society today and discuss the impact of imprisonment on racial justice. He will challenge us to acknowledge and understand our past to help guide us to a better future.

We Are All Criminals: a Catalyst for Conversations about Crime, Privilege, Punishment, and Mercy

Emily Baxter
Tuesday, October 8 • 11:00 a.m.

Emily Baxter is the executive director of We Are All Criminals.  She served as the Director of Public Policy at the Council on Crime and Justice and as an Assistant Public Defender at the Regional Native Public Defense Corporation. Her presentation will use stories, statutes, and statistics to examine the disparate impact of the criminal and juvenile justice systems on people of color and poor people across the country. It will include engaging first-person narratives and photographs.

Panel Discussion: Rehabilitation, Re-Entry, and Criminal Justice Reform

Thursday, October 10 • 9:30 a.m.

Moderator:
Danny Dixon, Criminal Justice Coordinator, WPCC

Panelists:
LaDonna R. Browning, Western Region Director, NC Department of Corrections;
Larry D. Williamson, Regional Program Coordinator, NC Department of Corrections;
Jaime Torres, Jaime Torres Ministries, Inc.

Each year more than 22,000 inmates are released from the North Carolina’s state prison system. Ninety-eight percent of the inmates in prison today will be released in the future. Offenders often struggle to gain formal employment and tend to have low levels of educational attainment. Comprehensive reentry efforts have proven to reduce recidivism rates, enhance public safety, and strengthen our local communities. All of us have a stake in ensuring that former inmates successfully re-enter society as productive members of our workforce.

We will have copies of Jaime Torres’ new book You Can’t Kill the Miracle: I Didn’t Know Him, But He Knew Me for sale, plus Mr. Torres will sign copies of the book.

The Female Offender: Violent Perpetrator, Petty Criminal,
or Pitiful Victim?  

Dr. Mary Ellen Mastrorilli
Thursday, October 10 • 7:00 p.m.

Dr. Mary Ellen Mastrorilli is an Associate Professor of the Practice at Boston University’s Metropolitan College. In addition, she spent 24 years working in the correctional system in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She published research on community corrections, female offenders, and prison education. Her presentation will discuss the consequences of mass incarceration, with a specific focus on imprisonment of female offenders, many of whom are serving time for non-violent offenses. She will examine the characteristics of female offenders to include racial disparities and share several insights about the nature of incarceration itself.

For More Information 

Have a question or would like more information about the Speakers Forum? Please fill out our form and we’ll be in touch with answers.

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