Reimagining Prison

Past Event
Wednesday, Oct 10, 2018
12:00 PM — 3:00 PM
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Host Locations: John Jay College of Criminal Justice Gerald Lynch Theater (New York City) & Cheshire Correctional Institution (Connecticut - Cheshire by invitation only).

Event Program & Bios >

Event Agenda

11:15 – 12:00 (Please be seated by noon as we will start promptly!)


12:00 – Live from John Jay

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Fred Patrick - Director, Center on Sentencing and Corrections, Vera Institute of Justice

Karol Mason - President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Why and How We Are Reimagining Prison

Moderator: Karol Mason – President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Nick Turner - President, Vera Institute of Justice

The Honorable Dannel P. Malloy - Governor of Connecticut

Stanley Richards - Senior Vice President of The Fortune Society

12:40 – Live from Cheshire Correctional Institution


Scott Semple - Commissioner at Connecticut Department of Correction

TRUE Transformation

Moderator: Carrie Johnson – National Justice Correspondent, NPR

Chris Belcher - TRUE resident and mentee

Scott Erfe - Warden, Cheshire Correctional Institution

Jennifer Peterson, Principal and Counselor Supervisor, State of Connecticut Department of Correction

Ryan Shanahan - Research Director of Vera’s Center on Youth Justice

Jermaine Young - TRUE resident and Mentor

The Physical Meets the Philosophical

Michael Murphy - Executive Director of MASS Design Group

1:50 - Live from John Jay

Prison Reimagined – Scaling the Idea

Moderator: Candice Jones - President and CEO of Public Welfare Foundation

Alex Frank - Project Director, Center on Youth Justice, Vera Institute of Justice

DeAnna Hoskins – President & CEO, Just LeadershipUSA

Andy Potter – Executive Director, Michigan Corrections Organization

Rick Raemisch - Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections

2:30 Live from Cheshire Correctional

The Future

Moderator: Baz Dreisinger - Founding Academic Director of John Jay's Prison-to-College Pipeline

Robert Bullock, TRUE mentee and student

Abbas Mohamad, TRUE mentee and student

Rashaad Porter – Project Coordinator, Center on Youth Justice, Vera Institute of Justice

Devon Simmons - John Jay student

2:55 Closing Remarks and Receptions

Join the Vera Institute of Justice and staff and residents of the TRUE unit at Cheshire Correctional Institution in Connecticut to Reimagine Prison in the United States.

Today, life in America’s prisons is dismal and not productive, and the brunt of these conditions fall on people of color and those who are socially and economically disadvantaged—in large part, the result of their systemic and historic social exclusion from much of American society. To remedy this, our nation must reckon with our past—as other nations, like Germany, have done before us—and organize our incarceration system and its aims around human dignity…for people incarcerated, and for staff and for the public, which deserves an effective system that delivers safety for all.

This convening culminates the work of Vera’s Reimagining Prison Project, launched in June 2016 at historic Eastern State Penitentiary, with the goal of transforming the how, what and why of incarceration in this country in pursuit of a dramatically smaller correctional system that places human dignity at its philosophical and operational core. Since the launch, we’ve engaged hundreds of bipartisan stakeholders—incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, corrections leaders and staff, crime survivors, reform advocates, policymakers, scholars, thought leaders of various political persuasions, and many others—and undertook significant research and program activities to inform our vision for incarceration in America.

Along with the release of our report presenting this transformative new vision, including principles to elucidate what a dignity-center approach could mean in practice, the October 10th event will simulcast a discussion with incarcerated young men and corrections officers from the Connecticut prison where the T.R.U.E. unit operates as an example of radical reimagining and re-engineering. Additionally, attendees will be challenged and inspired by calls to action from other speakers and panelists in New York and at the prison.

The time is now to cease tinkering at the margins, and to drive fundamental change in American prisons.