Criminal justice conference to be held

Tyrone Powers, a former FBI agent and director of the Institute of Criminal Justice, the University of Maryland, will deliver the keynote address, Criminal Injustice: An Exploration of Inequalities in the Criminal Justice System, Institutionalized Racism and Class Oppression in the FBI’s COINTELPRO Program and ‘War on Drugs’ for the conference No More Prisons: Education Not Incarceration at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 24, in Chase Hall Lounge, 56 Campus Ave. The public is invited to attend this event free of charge.

Powers will discuss his drug war experiences in the FBI, scrutinizing how the agency focuses on street level drug dealers — who he says are disproportionately poor people and people of color — while doing little to prevent the entrance of drugs into urban communities. Powers will also examine the FBI’s continuation of their COINTELPRO operation, a division that has focused specifically on infiltrating and destroying organizations such as the Black Panther Party.

The conference, aside from examining the inequalities of the criminal justice system, will also explore how this disparity feeds a profitable, fast growing, privatized prison industry and concludes by highlighting youth activism and education as tools to break the cycle of incarceration.

Other sessions, all held in Chase Hall Lounge on Campus Avenue, are:

2:30 p.m. Education Not Incarceration. Members of the Friends of Island Academy, a New York City-based youth development and GED program for recently released youth offenders, discuss their work in assisting their clients to make the transition from prison to community. Staff from the Lewiston Day Reporting Center, a community-based social service agency for juvenile offenders, talk about the support work done locally. Bates senior Ben Griesenger of Cambridge, Mass., discusses his experience with Day Reporting and building further connections between Bates and the community.

4:30 p.m. Prisons and Youth Organizing. Organizers from The NIA (“purpose” in Swahili) Project share their experiences in creating support programs for “at-risk” youth in Boston.

The conference, organized by the New World Coalition, is funded in part by an Arthur Crafts Service-Learning grant administered by Bates College Center for Service-Learning. Other student organizations, including Amandla!, the Jewish Cultural Community, Solidaridad Latina and Women of Color, have also provided funding. For more information, call 207-786-8272.

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