Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fall 2008 Meetings


August 26 > 7pm > Independent Media Center> 202 Broadway, Urbana (in the Family Room, on the ground floor, around the corner from Books to Prisoners)
September 23 > 7pm > Paradiso Cafe > 801 S. Lincoln, Urbana
October 21 > 7pm > Independent Media Center> 202 Broadway, Urbana (in the Family Room, on the ground floor, around the corner from Books to Prisoners)
SCHEDULE CHANGE to Dec 2 > 7pm > Paradiso Cafe > 801 S. Lincoln, Urbana


Juvies directed by Leslie Neale

Four years ago, high school student Duc was arrested for driving a car from which a gun was shot. Although no one was injured, Duc was not a member of a gang, had no priors and was 16 years old, he received a sentence of 35 years to life.
Fourteen-year-old Anait, an Armenian immigrant, had been given a car by her parents. She drove two boys to a high school and dropped them off. The boys got into a fight with another boy and subsequently killed a third boy who attempted to break up the fight. Because she was the driver of the “getaway” car, Anait was charged as an accessory to first-degree murder. Originally facing 200 years, she has since accepted a deal for 7 years.
Being tough on crime is one thing. But trying children as adults, and dispensing brutal sentences that are shockingly out of proportion to the offense, is quite another. Most Americans w
ould say this can’t happen here, yet for thousands of young people, this is the reality of the present day juvenile justice system, which has turned its back on its initial mission to protect young people and now sends over 200,000 kids through the adult system each year.
From award-winning documentary filmmaker Leslie Neale (Road to Return) comes this riveting look at a world most of us will never see: the world of juvenile offenders who are serving incredible prison sentences for crimes they either did not commit or were only marginally involved in. For two years, Neale taught a video production class at Los Angeles Central Juvenile Hall to 12 juveniles who were all being tried as adults. Juvies is the product of that class, which was a learning experience for both students and teacher—and becomes a learning experience for all of us, as we witness the heartbreaking stories of children abandoned by families and a system that has disintegrated i
nto a kind of vending machine justice


I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang by Robert Elliott Burns, published in 1932 by Grosset & Dunlap.

The book tells the story of Burns' imprisonment on a chain gang in Georgia in the 10s, his subsequent escape and the furor that developed. It was made into a motion picture I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, starring Paul Muni.The book and movie were both credited with helping to reform deplorable conditions on Deep South chain gangs. A sequel, Out of These Chains, was written by Burns' brother, Rev. Vincent Burns, in 1942.


Shakespeare Behind Bars, written and directed by Hank Rogerson and produced by Jilann Spitzmiller.

Take Shakespeare's final playThe Tempest with its violent seas, windswept island, crucial connection to nature, and underlying theme of forgiveness, and bring it into a prison, the ultimate venue of confinement. The result is an extraordinary story about the creative process and the power of art to heal and redeem--in a place where the very act of participation in theatre is a human triumph and a means of personal liberation.In Hank Rogerson's revelatory trip into and around this prison production, we embark on a year-long journey with the Shakespeare Behind Bars theatre troupe. Led by Shakespearean volunteer director Curt Tofteland, whose work with Luther Luckett inmates began in the mid-1990s, the prisoners cast themselves in roles reflecting their personal history and fate. Their individual stories, including information about their crimes, are interwoven with the plot of The Tempest as the inmates delve deeply into the characters they portray while confronting their personal demons. SHAKESPEARE BEHIND BARS is a tremendously moving film, where the protagonists are not merely defined by their crimes but are afforded dignity and a fresh chance to look truth in the eye, and embrace it.


The Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis and Opposition in Globalizing California by Ruth Wilson Gilmore.

Since 1980, the number of people in U.S. prisons has increased more than 450%. Despite a crime rate that has been falling steadily for decades, California has led the way in this explosion, with what a state analyst called "the biggest prison building project in the history of the world." Golden Gulag provides the first detailed explanation for that buildup by looking at how political and economic forces, ranging from global to local, conjoined to produce the prison boom.

In an informed and impassioned account, Ruth Wilson Gilmore examines this issue through statewide, rural, and urban perspectives to explain how the expansion developed from surpluses of finance capital, labor, land, and state capacity. Detailing crises that hit California's economy with particular ferocity, she argues that defeats of radical struggles, weakening of labor, and shifting patterns of capital investment have been key conditions for prison growth. The results—a vast and expensive prison system, a huge number off incarcerated young people of color, and the increase in punitive justice such as the "three strikes" law—pose profound and troubling questions for the future of California, the United States, and the world. Golden Gulag provides a rich context for this complex dilemma, and at the same time challenges many cherished assumptions about who benefits and who suffers from the state's commitment to prison expansion.

No comments: