ASU conference on incarceration and families to be livestreamed for free

Four-day summit to examine systemic racism, education, programming and advocacy


For the past two years, the Center for Child Well-Being at Arizona State University has intensively examined the impact of incarceration on families through an annual conference.

This year, the pandemic postponed the spring event, but the result will be a much more comprehensive look at the issues of mass incarceration.

The State of Incarceration Virtual Summit, a series of free webinars every Wednesday in October, will examine how racism and economic disparities play into the criminal justice system.

Judy Krysik, director of the center and an associate professor in the School of Social Work, said the cancellation of the April conference turned out to have a silver lining.

“In some ways, it was a great opportunity because of all the things that have been happening in our society, with calls for criminal justice reforms,” she said. “It really forced us to take a broader view and look at systemic involvement, not just children and families.”

About 2 million children are affected by incarceration right now across the country, with 5 million having dealt with it at some point in their lives, Krysik said.

This year, the conference will be more interdisciplinary, with the Center for Child Well-Being partnering with the Academy for Justice at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, the School of Social Transformation, the Center for Justice and Social Inquiry, and the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands.

Sylvia A. Harvey, author of “The Shadow System: Mass Incarceration and the American Family," will be the keynote speaker at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7.

The first day of the conference, Oct. 7, will look at systemic issues in incarceration, including racial disparities. The keynote speaker, at 12:15 p.m., will be Sylvia A. Harvey, author of “The Shadow System: Mass Incarceration and the American Family.” The 8 a.m. session will feature Valena Beety, professor of law and deputy director of the Academy for Justice, who will talk about “Racism and Incarceration: Past and Present.” The 3 p.m. session will feature Analise Ortiz, an ASU alumna who’s now a campaign strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union, who will discuss a recent report on racial disparities in prosecutions in Maricopa County.

The Oct. 14 sessions are devoted to education, with panels on prison censorship and ways that schools can support children. One panel will include young people who have been affected by incarceration. The keynote speaker is Noel Candelaria, secretary-treasurer of the National Education Association teachers’ union, who will speak at noon about social justice in the classroom.

Oct. 21 will elaborate on programs that support children and families affected by incarceration and the Oct. 28 conference addresses advocacy, with keynote speaker Chesa Boudin, the San Francisco district attorney, whose father was incarcerated.

“This day is about moving from advocacy into action,” said Melinda Borucki, communications and events manager with the Center for Child Well-Being.

“It’s how people can take everything they learned and use it to inform their advocacy and inspire them to change the system, whether through voting, or appeals to the legislature or volunteering.”

Registration is required and is open to anyone. Attendees can register for single sessions as well as full days.

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