Political and Cultural Consequences of Incarceration to be Topic of Baldy Center Conference

Keynote address to be presented by internationally regarded historian

Release Date: October 11, 2002

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- One of the nation's most influential historians and political interpreters of the African-American experience will present the keynote address as part of a conference on the effects of incarceration on individual constitutional rights to be sponsored by the University at Buffalo Law School's Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy.

Manning Marable, professor of history, political science and public affairs and director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, will speak on "Race, Justice and Civic Empowerment: Africana Criminal Justice" at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Langston Hughes Institute, 25 High Street, Buffalo. His address will be free and open to the public.

Marable's presentation will be part of "Locked Up, Then Locked Out: A Workshop on Prisoners' Civil Disabilities" to be held Oct. 18-19 in the Adams Mark Hotel, Buffalo.

The growth in the segments of the U.S. and Canadian population that are or have been incarcerated has effects on citizenship that move beyond the prisoner and the prison, says Teresa Miller, UB associate professor of law and organizer of the conference with Christopher Mele, UB associate professor of sociology.

"A host of civil laws stigmatize criminal offenders long after they have served their time in prison," says Miller. "These penalties disable many ex-offenders from participating meaningfully in society by prohibiting them from voting, adopting and foster-parenting a child. They further disqualify ex-offenders from eligibility for public assistance, federal student loans, public housing, obtaining a driver's license and some forms of employment. These penalties reinforce through civil legislation the stigma of incarceration, and are an overlooked aspect of the criminal law's disproportionately harsh approach to often low-level criminal offenses."

The conference will bring together academics, legal professionals and others to examine the impact incarceration has not only on the individual, but also on crucial social, political, economic

and cultural consequences for families and communities.

Participants will address a broad definition of civil disabilities that affect ex-offenders, their families, their communities and the constitution of civil society itself. Researchers from a broad range of disciplines, as well as ex-offender advocates and legal practitioners, will discuss the implications of civil disability on issues of housing, welfare, employment, mobility, citizenship and other aspects of civil society.

Marable's career has focused on development of a theory of a multicultural democracy as a solution to racial and economic inequality. He has authored more than 200 scholarly articles, and written and edited nearly 20 books and anthologies. His public affairs commentary, "Along the Color Line," appears in more than 275 newspapers and is heard on 80 radio stations worldwide.

Considered one of the most widely read intellectuals within the African-American community, he frequently is featured in the national and international media as an expert on the history and politics of race, and regularly is interviewed on National Public Radio and appears on programs such as CNN's "Talk-Back Live" and NBC's "Today Show."

In addition to Marable's keynote address, the conference will include roundtable discussions on "Multiple Perspectives on Civil Disabilities," "Impacts on Housing, Employment and Public Assistance," "Social Difference: Consequences of Civil Disabilities for Particular Populations" and "Legal Challenges and Reforms in the U.S., Canada and Abroad."

Conference presenters, in addition to Marable, Miller and Mele, will include Patricia Allard of The Sentencing Project, Washington, D.C.; Gabriel Chin, University of Cincinnati College of Law; Scott Christianson, author, scholar, journalist and human-right activist; Mora Demleitner, St. Mary's University of San Antonio School of Law; Lucian Ferster, assistant public defender, Miami-Dade Public Defender's Office; Daniel Filler, University of Alabama School of Law; S. Mecca Franklin, Esq., Owings Mills, Md.; Amy Hirsch, Esq., Community Legal Services, Philadelphia; Michael Lichter, UB Department of Sociology.

Also, Margaret Colgate Love, Esq., Brank & Frulla, Washington, D.C.; Richard F. Mancuso, research analyst, UB Center for Research on Children and Youth; Elizabeth Curtin, director of adult services and programming, Community for Justice, Boston; Debra Parkes, University of Manitoba Faculty of Law; James Ewan Robertson, Department of Sociology and Corrections, Minnesota State University; Christopher Uggen, Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota; Dirk van Zyl Smit, Institute of Criminology, University of Cape Town; Peter Wagner, Western New England College School of Law, and Geoffrey K. Ward, Vera Institute of Justice Inc., New York City.

For more information on the conference, call The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy at 645-2102 or go http://www.law.buffalo.edu/baldycenter/civdis02.html.

Media Contact Information

Christine Vidal
Director of News Content
Community Engagement, International Education
Tel: 716-645-4607