Chicago Ideas is teaming up with the Vera Institute of Justice to reenvision the American prison system, and imagine a society in which prisons serve as rehabilitation facilities for communities and citizens, rather than as crippling institutions. This Conversation will combine performance, first-person testimony and compelling dialogue that all look into not only how the American prison system can cause “civil death,” but also what everyday citizens can do to help reshape the way in which incarceration affects the country. Attendees can expect to walk away from this event with a greater understanding of the inherent problems with our prison system, what alternative systems might look like, and how to engage with creating change.
The 75-minute program will be broken up into three separate parts:
Part One: Designed to Dehumanize: This portion will consist of a dramatic reading that places the American prison system and the experiences of incarcerated people into historical context, underscoring how incarceration is a form of never-ending punishment for millions of people who are penalized long after their release.
Part Two: It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way: A moderated, multi-disciplinary conversation will look into the power and potential of reimagining our prison system to emphasize human dignity over punishment.
Part Three: The Community Reimagines: The event will close out with a conversation and a call to action around how communities, public institutions and the private sector can work for justice and embrace practices that enhance safe and successful reentry for returning citizens.
A reception for attendees at the Jones College Prep High School will directly follow the program.