Taylor Symposium to focus on social impact of American prison system, mass incarceration: Newscenter: Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

Taylor Symposium to focus on social impact of American prison system, mass incarceration

  • Jan. 21, 2016


INDIANAPOLIS -- While it bills itself as "the land of the free," the United States is home to nearly 25 percent of the world's prison population. A disproportionate number of those incarcerated individuals are people of color and people from lower-income communities. The issue of mass incarceration is attracting national and international media attention and is being considered by policymakers in local, state and federal offices.

The 2016 Joseph T. Taylor Symposium at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis offers participants the opportunity to understand the wide-ranging effects of the American prison system, especially for African Americans. "Mass Incarceration and the Destruction of Community: Beyond the Post-Racial Myth" will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in the IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd.

"This symposium will place issues related to mass incarceration in their larger context," said Peter Seybold, associate professor of sociology and a member of the symposium planning committee. "It will address how mass incarceration destroys families and communities and ultimately destroys the life chances of many Americans who get trapped by a tragic failure in public policy."

Symposium presenters include:

  • Jane Henegar, Indiana executive director, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Detective Andre Smith, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
  • Juard Barnes, pastor, The Eagles’ Nest; community organizer, Indianapolis Congregation Action Network

The luncheon will include a presentation by Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, on the topic "The War on Drugs and Mass Incarceration: Racist, Destructive, and Unwinnable." Franklin is a 34-year veteran of both the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department and oversaw 17 separate drug task forces. He currently directs an organization of police, prosecutors, judges and other law enforcement officials who want to end the war on drugs.

"As job prospects collapse in an uncertain economy, the policy of mass incarceration is clearly connected to the difficulty that working people have experienced in attaining the American dream," Seybold said. "It is part of a larger system that regulates the poor and denies them their humanity."

The 2016 Taylor Symposium is presented by the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI in partnership with its Department of Sociology. The annual event honors the late Joseph T. Taylor, the first dean of the School of Liberal Arts, for his many contributions to the university and to the greater Indianapolis community. The event highlights topics of interest to urban communities, particularly communities of color.

Morning symposium sessions, conducted in the theater on the lower level of the Campus Center, are free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested.

The noon luncheon will take place in Room 450 of the Campus Center. Luncheon seating is limited and requires registration and pre-payment. Luncheon tickets are $35 each if purchased by Feb. 2, or $40 after Feb. 2. Organizations are also invited to become table patrons for the luncheon. The cost is $550 for a table of 10.

For symposium registration and additional information, visit the Taylor Symposium website.

Retired Major Neill Franklin

Retired Major Neill Franklin

Print Quality Photo

Diane Brown
Genevieve Shaker