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MICHIGAN JOURNAL OF RACE & LAW PRESENTS

Inhumane and Ineffective:
Solitary Confinement in Michigan and Beyond

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Counting Time by Alan Norberg
Counting Time by Alan Norberg

(about the artist)

Keynote Address by Professor James Forman, Jr.,
of Yale Law School


Overview

While prisoners’ rights advocates continue to call for constitutional restraints on the use of solitary confinement, states are now looking for effective paths away from reliance on this expensive form of incarceration. This symposium will examine the psychological harms, constitutional problems, and enormous economic and social costs that accompany a government’s decision to confine human beings in a small prison cell twenty-three hours per day. After situating the discussion of solitary confinement within the larger context of race and the criminal justice system, this symposium will pay particular attention to the state of solitary confinement in Michigan, where nearly 1,000 people are in administrative segregation. Drawing on successful reforms in Mississippi, the symposium will consider strategies to reduce or eliminate the practice in Michigan and beyond.

For more discussion of these issues, visit our resource page here. ~ Resources updated 1/4/2013!

View our symposium overview poster here.

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Video Recording

Keynote
Panel 1
Panel 2
Panel 3

 


Speakers

Keynote Speaker: James Forman, Jr.

James Forman, Jr. is a Clinical Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Professor Forman teaches and writes in the areas of criminal procedure and criminal law policy, constitutional law, juvenile justice, and education law and policy. His particular interests are schools, prisons, and police, and those institutions’ race and class dimensions.

Video Archive of Keynote

Distinguished Panelists

Elizabeth Alexander
Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander; Director Emeritus, American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project
Elizabeth Alexander
James Austin
President, The JFA Institute
James Austin
Robert Cohen
Clinical Instructor in the Department of Medicine of the NYU School of Medicine
Robert Cohen
Sharon Dolovich
Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
Sharon Dolovich
Christopher B. Epps
Commissioner, Mississippi Department of Corrections
Christopher Epps
David C. Fathi
Director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project
David Fathi
James Forman Jr.
Clinical Professor of Law, Yale Law School

Keynote Speaker
James Forman, Jr.
Jeff Gerritt
The Blade, Editorial Page Editor
Jeff Gerritt
Craig Haney
Professor of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz
Craig Haney
Jelani Jefferson Exum
Associate Professor, University of Toledo College of Law

Moderator, Panel 3
Jelani Jefferson Exum
Martha S. Jones
member of The University of Michigan Law School’s Affiliated LS&A Faculty; Associate Professor of History; and Associate Chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies
Martha Jones
Robert H. King
part of a trio of American political prisoners collectively known as the “Angola Three”
Robert King
David A. Santacroce
Clinical Professor of Law, General Clinic, Michigan Clinical Law Program, The University of Michigan Law School

Moderator, Panel 2
David Santacroce
Margo Schlanger
Professor of Law, The University of Michigan Law School
Margo Schlanger
Patricia A. Streeter
Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Patricia A. Streeter
Patricia Streeter

Kimberly Thomas
Clinical Professor of Law, Juvenile Justice Clinic, Michigan Clinical Law Program, The University of Michigan Law School

Moderator, Panel 1

Kimberly Thomas
Marie Gottschalk
Professor of Political Science, The University of Pennsylvania
no available image
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Panels

Panel 1: Isolation and Mental Health
Sharon Dolovich
Craig Haney
Robert Hillary King

Moderator: Kimberly Thomas
Video Archive

The consequences of holding an individual in isolation/segregation over time may include new or exacerbated mental health disturbances, assaultive and other anti-social behaviors, and chronic and acute health disorders. People who have been housed in segregation for long periods of time may also find it difficult to be in the company of others, whether in the general prison population or later in the community. Studies show that prisoners who are released from segregation directly to the community reoffend at higher rates than general population prisoners. This panel will explore the psychological effects of solitary confinement and potential constitutional challenges to its use. It will also consider the claim that people of color disproportionately suffer from the practice of solitary confinement.

Panel 2: Crisis in Michigan
Elizabeth Alexander
Robert Cohen
Jeff Gerritt
Patricia Streeter

Moderator: David Santacroce
Video Archive

Nearly 1,000 inmates in Michigan are in administrative segregation, the highest and most restrictive custody level, and many of them are mentally ill. Privately, Department of Corrections officials acknowledge that many mentally ill inmates do not belong in prison. Over the last two decades, however, Michigan has slashed spending on in-patient treatment, leaving courts with few options but to send mentally ill offenders to jail or prison. Several people have died as a result. In August 2006, for example, Timothy Souders—a mentally ill 21-year old serving one to four years for petty theft and resisting arrest—died of heat and thirst after spending four days strapped down in a segregation cell. This panel will evaluate the state of solitary confinement in Michigan in light of Hadix v. Caruso, a decades-long case challenging conditions of confinement, including medical care, at various Michigan prison facilities. It will also consider claims that African Americans and other people of color disproportionately suffer from the use of isolation/segregation in Michigan.

Panel 3: Strategies for Reform
James Austin
Christopher Epps
David Fathi
Marie Gottschalk
Margo Schlanger

Moderator: Jelani Jefferson Exum
Video Archive

The current economic crisis has created a convergence of interests between advocates calling for constitutional restraints on solitary confinement and states looking for new and effective paths away from reliance on this expensive form of incarceration. Drawing on successful reforms in Mississippi, this panel will bring together leading scholars and advocates to discuss litigation and non-litigation strategies to reduce or eliminate the use of solitary confinement. When Mississippi moved the great majority of its prisoners out of solitary, something extraordinary happened: violence plummeted, and prisoners became better behaved. In 2010, the state permanently closed its “supermax” prison. Officials estimate that diverting prisoners from solitary confinement under Mississippi’s new model saves about $8 million dollars a year. At the same time, changes in the management of the solitary confinement population reduced violence levels by 70%.

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Schedule of Events

Saturday, February 2, 2013

8:30–9:30 AM

Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:30–9:45 AM

Introductory Remarks

9:45–10:30 AM

Keynote Address

10:30 AM–Noon

Panel 1: Isolation and Mental Health

Noon–1:30 PM

Lunch

1:30–3:00 PM

Panel 2: Crisis in Michigan

3:00–3:15 PM

Break

3:15–5:15 PM

Panel 3: Strategies for Reform

5:15–5:30 PM

Concluding Remarks

7:00–9:00 PM

Alumni and Speakers’ Dinner*

*There is a charge to attend the dinner and pre-payment is required for a reservation. Contact Karla Johnson to pre-register and she will contact you to arrange payment. The deadline date for registering for the banquet is January 23, 2013.

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Sponsors:

The University of Michigan Law School

The University of Michigan Department of American Culture

The University of Michigan School of Social Work

The University of Michigan Theme Semester Winter 2013—Understanding Race

The Residential College Executive Committee

The University of Michigan Health System

University of Michigan Institute for Social Research

Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan

The National Center for Institutional Diversity

The Michigan Law Program in Race, Law & History

LexisNexis

The Dalack Family

Contact us if you’d like to become a sponsor.

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Registration

Registration for the symposium is now open. Admission to the symposium is free. Register for the symposium here (link will open a new tab in your browser).


Logistics

The University of Michigan Law School 
701 South State Street (South Hall)
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Phone: (734) 764-1358 

Directions to the Law School:
The Law Quadrangle is located on State Street in downtown Ann Arbor, between Monroe Street and South University Avenue. South Hall is located across Monroe Street from the Quad.
http://www.law.umich.edu/aboutus/Pages/directions.aspx

Parking and Transportation
http://www.law.umich.edu/AnnArbor/Pages/transportationparking.aspx

Local Attractions and Restaurants
http://www.law.umich.edu/annarbor/Pages/default.aspx

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Contact Us

Mailing Address

Michigan Journal of Race & Law
University of Michigan Law School
625 S State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Symposium Steering Committee

Co-Chair, Symposium
Karla M. Johnson - karljohn@umich.edu

Co-Chair, Symposium
Gabriel Newland - gnewland@umich.edu

Editor-in-Chief
Dorothy Chang - doriec@umich.edu

Faculty Advisor
Martha S. Jones - msjonz@umich.edu

Faculty Advisor
Margo Schlanger - mschlan@umich.edu

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