Events / Neil A. Weiner Research Speaker Series

On the Environmental Injustices of Mass Incarceration from Surveillance to In-custody Death

Speaker: Dr. Nicholas Shapiro

Past Event
Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022
3:00 PM — 4:15 PM ET
Main Conference Room, Industry City (Vera staff only)

This talk will bring together three collaborative projects to ask what role, if any, environmental research might play in debates about prison reform and abolition.

  • The first project focuses on the self-proclaimed capital of law enforcement helicopter surveillance: Los Angeles. For this preliminary study, we purchased one year of law enforcement helicopter flight trajectories to assess the racialization of helicopter surveillance and the subsequent noise-related sleep disruptions that can directly impact childhood development, educational achievement, mental health, and workplace performance.
  • In the second project, Dr. Shapiro will move from policing and surveillance to carceral facilities themselves, outlining our attempts (with many collaborators) to identify and assess the environmental hazards of more than 6,000 carceral facilities across the country. Dr. Shapiro will outline the many hazards that expose incarcerated people to toxic compounds. Additionally, Dr. Shapiro will focus on what we can and can't understand about the drinking water issues of the nation's carceral facilities in aggregate.
  • The third project focuses on Los Angeles, where researchers are interrogating the conditions that produce death in LA County jails and the way medical examiners are potentially naturalizing unnatural deaths behind bars.

Across all of these projects, researchers are attempting to piece together if and how the accountability problems of carceral and environmental injustices might find traction by being analyzed together.