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Rethinking Incarceration and Systemic Oppression: Stetson University Launches Critical Initiative

| March 16, 2019

Overbooked. (Thomas Hawk)

Overbooked. (Thomas Hawk)

Stetson University Community Education Project (CEP) is launching Rethinking Incarceration, an initiative designed to promote dialogue on mass incarceration, prison reform, human rights, political engagement and systemic oppression.


The first event of this initiative, “Florida Gathering,” will be a panel discussion on Thursday, March 21, 7-8:30 p.m., in the duPont-Ball Library, Room 25L, 134 E. Minnesota Ave., DeLand 32723. Panelists include representatives from Exchange for Change, the Florida Prison Education Project, Writers with Conviction and ESUBA (Abuse, spelled backwards) as well as Mark Inch, Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections. The event is free and open to the public.

CEP’s mission is to provide high-quality education for incarcerated people residing in Florida. Access to higher education offers incarcerated individuals meaningful opportunities for personal growth and intellectual engagement, which benefits our community as a whole. Funding for its work, including support for the Florida Gathering, is provided by the Laughing Gull Foundation.

In addition to the public panel, representatives from CEP and four higher education in prison programs from Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Tallahassee, will meet during this two-day gathering to exchange unique insights on their experiences with higher education in prison programs, their challenges and the prospects that come along with this type of educational commitment. As a collective, representatives will aim to create a Florida consortium of higher education in prison programs.

Other free events that are planned for this initiative and open to the public include a Social Justice Lecture Series: “Surviving Criminal Justice in America” by Alabama death row exoneree Anthony Ray Hinton, Tuesday, March 19, 7-8:30 p.m., Stetson Room.

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7 Responses for “Rethinking Incarceration and Systemic Oppression: Stetson University Launches Critical Initiative”

  1. Mark says:

    I guess I should get locked up for my free, free, freeeeeeeee, education.

  2. Concerned Citizen says:

    Welcome to prison.

    You either find Jesus or get a PHD. Meanwhile a lot of us (myself included) are working full time and struggling to just get an AA out of pocket so I can get away from maintenance work LOL.

    Prison is meant as punishment. Yes you have certain rights but why should you have more rights than your victim?

    We need to start making sure that victims of crimes are taken care of just as much as these poor prisoners are.

  3. Agkistrodon says:

    I have Always felt the prison and jail system needed to be reformed. People incarcerated should have two choices Get and education, REQUIRED DAILY during sentence, or Break Rocks. And when those rocks are broken, make gravel. You cannot expect someone to change or become a member of society by simply locking them up and NOT educating them. I guess some might have a problem with it, Call it RE-education, I am fine with that. The way it works now is a Joke, simply makes for more highly trained CRIMINALS.

  4. flagler1 says:

    Punish me with a PhD.

  5. Richard says:

    This is a joke, RIGHT?

  6. Seanpeckham says:

    I do have to say to the people who bash education for inmates you probably have not graduated your self !
    Flagler county is moving in the right direction by adding work and educational programs to the inmate facility this makes the people in our community better all around ! No matter what they say about the sheriff department they are trying to make this town Mayberry keep it up

  7. Anne W says:

    Prison reform must begin and why not with higher education for those that are interested. Florida houses almost 98,000 inmates. Since Florida is one of the worst offending states for sentencing children (under the age of 18) as adults, perhaps it is time we consider over 10,000 of that 98,000 are actually children who have grown up in prison. The unbelievable stories, thousands upon thousands of teens making bad choices going off to prison for decades are horrific. Fourteen, fifteen and sixteen year olds sentenced to 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years…what are people thinking? My son was arrested at age 14 after having a dramatic reaction to medication the pediatrician prescribed. He had never been in trouble, yet not one person thought to check his blood work or look for an explanation of his behavior. He was a middle school student and had not even hit puberty and a week before getting his braces on. He had been accepted into an International Baccalaureate program for high school. For goodness sakes he was 14 and his voice had not even changed when he was taken off to an adult jail and sentenced as an ADULT. The absurdity of what happened to our family continues to dumbfound me nine years later as he remains in prison with over another decade left to serve. Our system is archaic and inhumane. Thousands of families have been broken. Many would say what Florida has done to tens of thousands of its children is SHAMEFUL. Stetson is doing a comprehensive job in trying to provide education opportunities to interested inmates, but also for guards or their family members in an effort to be inclusive and provide for all. Until we grasp the true issues and do our best from a position of power to aide those who are powerless we are not helping. Inmates are serving time for crimes committed, they do not walk or live free, this is not a ‘reward’ for being a criminal. It does however give many an element of hope. What about those falsely accused…an estimated 10% are not even guilty of the crime they are serving time for, so do not forget about those who are truly forgotten and disenfranchised. Imagine. Not everyone wants a higher education, but if they do and leave prison better equipped to contribute to society and earn a living I do not see what is wrong with the premise. As a society we must embrace those who will one day walk our streets and live in our neighborhoods again…there are so many. I suggest anyone having such a hard nosed opinion to take a walk into a prison and talk with those they are so annoyed with. Rarely does a hand-up backfire. The softening of one’s heart brings about one’s own learning and growth and an expanded mind. I believe our fellow humans locked away deserve the right to an education also. I say we could all use a dose of higher education. I thank those involved in this program and I admire their desire to make this state a more cohesive community. Our new Secretary of DOC, General Mark Inch and our new Governor DeSantis are off to a fine start and their look at being fiscally responsible and doing what is best for all is obvious…I wish it was obvious to everyone.

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