After the not-guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for killing 17-year old Trayvon Martin, some are asking what "justice" would look like for Trayvon. The conversation about whether the criminal legal system is the 'best' way to seek accountability for harm has been ongoing for several years. It continues in the wake of this trial. Some outstanding questions include:
1. What would transformative justice look like in this case?
2. How do prison abolitionists respond to the George Zimmerman trial?
The panelists below addressed these and other questions at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum on Thursday, August 15th 2013.
Dr. Erica R. Meiners is a Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Education at Northeastern Illinois University. She is the author of Right to be hostile: schools, prisons and the making of public enemies (2009) and articles exploring the school to prison pipeline. She is a member of her labor union, University Professionals of Illinois, and actively involved in a number of non-traditional and popular education projects including an anti-prison teaching collective (Chicago PIC Teaching Collective) and the Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education (CReATE) and she is currently teaching classes at Stateville Prison and St. Leonard’s Adult High School.
Dr. Beth Richie is the Director for the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Beth E. Richie is also Professor of African American Studies and Criminology, Law, and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her scholarly and activist work focuses on the experiences of African American battered women and sexual assault survivors, and emphasizes how race/ethnicity and social position affect women's experience of violence and incarceration. Dr. Richie is a qualitative researcher and the author of numerous articles concerning Black feminism and gender violence, race and criminal justice policy, and the social dynamics around issues of sexuality, families, and grassroots organizations in African American communities. Her most recent book, Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America’s Prison Nation, chronicles the evolution of the contemporary anti-violence movement during a period of mass incarceration in the United States. She is a founding member of INCITE!: Women of Color Against Violence
Dr. Traci Schlesinger is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies of Sociology at DePaul University. Questions about how the criminalizing and punishing system maintains racial oppression in the contemporary United States inform her teaching, research, and activism. While Traci has engaged in activism around numerous issues, including police violence, prisoner support, the privatization of education, global capitalism, reproductive injustice, and war, the focus of her activism for the past 13 years has been prison abolition, broadly understood. Currently, Traci is a volunteer with the Transformative Justice Law Project’s name change mobilization, which helps trans* folks file for legal name changes and report those name changes, once they are finalized, to a number of government agencies including the DMV and Social Security. Having documents with correct names and gender markers helps keep people safe from police violence as well as other forms of violence.
The panel is moderated by Mariame Kaba