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    Reimagining Prison: The Community Reimagines

    Chicago Ideas teamed up with the Vera Institute of Justice to imagine ways in which America can fix its prison system. In this Conversation, Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx and MacArthur Foundation president Julia Stasch join Vera's president Nick Turner for a call to action.

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    Your impact checklist

    Here are a list of things you can do before and after the event to join the conversation.

    • Learn more about the Vera Institute of Justice's Project, Reimagining Prison.
    • Attend either the Member tour of the Cook County Jail or the Chicago Ideas Roundtable discussion for an immersive look at this topic. 
    • Watch HBO's Solitary: Inside Red Onion State Prison for another look into the system.
    • Write and call your elected officials to keep the accountable. Encourage them to develop innovative ideas to solve the problem.
    Conversation

    Reimagining Prison

    Chicago Ideas and The Vera Institute of Justice team re-envision the American prison system, and imagine a society in which prisons serve as rehabilitation facilities for communities and citizens during this three-part event.

    Arne Duncan
    Managing Partner, Emerson Collective; Former U.S. Secretary of Education
    Johnny Perez
    Safe Reentry Advocate, Urban Justice Center
    Jamil Smith
    Contributing Writer, The Daily Beast
    Danielle Sered
    Director, Common Justice
    John Wetzel
    Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
    Nick Turner
    President, Vera Institute of Justice
    James Vincent Meredith
    Actor; Ensemble Member, Steppenwolf Theatre Company
    Julia Stasch
    President, MacArthur Foundation
    Kim Foxx
    State's Attorney, Cook County

    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.