Monday, July 24, 2017

One Book, One Community: Just Mercy

According to numbers provided by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the United States has the highest incarceration rate of any nation in the world. The number of American prisoners has increased from 300,000 in the 1970s to 2.3 million people today." We'll be examining these issues at Vol State this coming school year as "Just Mercy" has been chosen for the One Book, One Community read. Here is how the publisher describes the non-fiction book.

“Bryan Stevenson takes us on an unforgettable journey into the broken American criminal justice system in his much lauded New York Times bestselling “Just Mercy.” After Stevenson graduated from Harvard Law School he started the Equal Justice Initiative, a law practice dedicated to defending some of America's most rejected and marginalized people. Among the first cases he took on was that of Walter McMillian, a black man from Monroeville, Alabama who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn't commit. The case would change Bryan's life and transform his understanding of justice and mercy forever. “Just Mercy” follows the suspenseful battle to free Walter before the state executes him, while also stepping back to tell the profoundly moving stories of men, women, and even children, who found themselves at the mercy of a system often incapable of showing it.” 
Bryan Stevenson. Photo by Nina Subin

The One Book One Community initiative has three speakers coming to the Vol State campus in Gallatin to discuss issues raised by the book.

Jeannie Alexander will be speaking on September 13th at 1 p.m. in the Caudill Hall Wemyss Auditorium. Readers of the Nashville Scene will recognize her as the publication’s “Best Advocate” in 2017. Alexander, who has been involved in advocacy for those affected by homelessness as well as the prison system, now heads up the No Exceptions Prison Collective, a nonprofit focused on the abolition of prisons as well as the establishment of basic treatment standards for prisoners. Alexander will speak about her experiences as an advocate and more generally about the prison system.

Vanderbilt Philosophy Professor Lisa Guenther will speak about the prison system in America on October 24th at 1 p.m. in the Mary Cole Nichols Dining Room. Guenther’s areas of focus include mass incarceration, capital punishment, the carceral state, race and racism, and the effects of solitary confinement. Students, faculty and members of the community are invited to join for what promises to be a compelling and interesting discussion of imprisonment practices in America.

The Reverend Joseph B. Ingle will join us on November 15th at 1 p.m. in the Caudill Hall Wemyss Auditorium. Ingle is an expert on the history of incarceration in the United States and will speak on that subject. Ingle founded the Tennessee Committee against State Killing, and has served as the director of the Southern Coalition on Jails and Prisons as well as the Executive Director of the Neighborhood Justice Center, a Nashville based coalition focused on restorative justice. Ingle will share some of his wealth of knowledge on the subjects of incarceration and justice, as well as providing unique insights gained from his years of dedicated service to ameliorative justice in Tennessee.

For more information please visit the web page.

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