Andrew (stilbornherring) wrote in bham_anti_war,

BEYOND BARS conference

The Politics of the Prison Industrial Complex
December 3rd, 10am-5pm
Fairhaven College, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
FREE! WITH LUNCH PROVIDED by Bellingham Food not Bombs.

A conference bringing together a broad range of speakers and presentations to address the increasing incarceration rate in the United States, and its effect on diverse population in our society. Also a commemoration of Dec. 3rd International of Solidarity with Political Prisoners.

For more information or disability accommodations, please call (360) 650-6804, or e-mail

Confirmed speakers:
* Kirsten Anderberg, activist/agitator and journalist,specializing in Poverty and Human Rights Issues
* Books to Prisoners, sending free books to prisoners since 1973
* Pippa Breakspear, educator/addictions specialist, producer of On the Rocks: Treatment, Not Incarceration
* Mark Cook, a former Black Panther who has served 24-plus years behind bars as a political prisoner
* Christina McLean, Chris McIntosh Support Campaign ( )
* Danielle Ni Dhighe, Coordinating Committee Member, Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America
* The November Coalition, a non-profit grassroots organization educating the public about destructive, unnecessary incarceration due to the U.S. drug war.
* Matthew Walton, co-producer producer of Sundance, an opera on the trial and incarceration of Native American political prisoner Leonard Peltier
*** And more to be announced!

Films showing throughout the day:
* Corrections—how the racial and economic inequality in the US are emerging from the wall’s of today’s prisons.
* David Gilbert: Lifetime of Struggle—a rare opportunity to go behind prison walls for discussion with this lifelong anti-imperialist activist and political prisoner.
* What I Want My Words To Do To You—the story of a writing group led by playwright and activist Eve Ensler at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for women.
* Charisse Shumate: Fighting for Our Lives—produced by the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, focusing on the life and work of prisoner and activist Charisse Shumate.
* USA, INCarcerated/Visions of Freedom—the state of imprisonment in the US, as told by the organization Critical Resistance
* Green with a Vengeance and 22/8—the story of eco-prisoner Jeff Leurs
*** And many more, to be announced!

Sponsored by the WWU Social Issues Resource Center, Legal Information Center, Drug Information Center, Ethnic Student Center, Women’s Center, Department of Human Services and Rehabiliation, Middle East Solidarity Organization, WWU MEChA, Feminism Is For Everybody, Bellingham Political Prisoner Solidarity Committee, Anti-Racist White Student Union (more forthcoming)

Directions: When approaching Bellingham from the north or south on Interstate 5, take Exit #252, marked Samish Way and W.W.U. Turn west onto Samish Way and follow the signs to Bill McDonald Parkway. At South College Drive, take a right. Fairhaven College and its gravel parking lot will be on the right. Parking is free.

WWU Social Issues Resource Center Statement -
On December 3rd, 2005, the Social Issues Resource Center will host a conference bringing together a broad range of speakers and presentations to address the increasing incarceration rate in the United States, and its effect on diverse population in our society.

In recent years, the amount of people in either prison or jail in the United States of America surpassed the two million mark. This puts the USA as the greatest incarcerator in the history of the world. And while its current growth has now slowed compared to the past thirty years, the incarceration rate in this country continues to increase.

At the same time that the imprisoned population continues to grow and prisons continue to be built, it seems that little to no public discussion occurs about the value of the practice. Politicians both to the left and the right rarely raise the issue, fearful of any approach to crime other than one stressing the strictest punishments.

Yet the very magnitude of the impact of prisons on people in this country demands the public discussion begin. Dedicated to raising awareness and educating the WWU community on a variety of social issues, the Social Issues Resource Center can hardly think of a better issue that relates to so many concerns in this country at this time.

Incarceration is increasingly a local concern. In past months, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire and the State legislature approved construction of a new prison facility in Connell, WA. In Whatcom County, mirroring developments in counties across the state, voters recently approved the spending of $350,000 to plan future facilities, including a new jail.

At the same time, incarceration reflects a host of painful disparities. At a time when institutional racism is in the public eye following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it becomes increasingly harder to ignore that African Americans, while making up 12.7% of the overall US population, account for nearly 50% of those in US prisons and jails.

These and other concerns are what we hope to raise with the hosting of this conference. The conference will, we hope, pass on the lessons and facilitate the networking that will initiate a discussion of incarceration at WWU, its presence in Bellingham, in Whatcom County, and the US at large – a discussion we hope that will continue far beyond December 3rd.

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