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Symposium to examine New Orleans' consent decree and prison reform

Loyola press release - February 3, 2014

Legal experts, criminal justice advocates and watchdogs will convene Friday, Feb. 7 at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law to discuss and explore effective prison reform, including an examination of the controversial consent decree in New Orleans.

The Prison Reform: Progress, Policies & Practices symposium takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in room 308 of the College of Law. It is free and open to the public. The purpose of the event, one of the first in the College of Law’s centennial celebration, is to discuss and explore the different approaches to prison reform and to create a dialogue between legal practitioners, community activists and others involved with reshaping the U.S. prison system.

Sponsored by Loyola’s Journal of Public Interest Law, the symposium will feature a keynote address at 4:15 p.m. from activist Jackie Sumell, creator of Herman’s House, a project dedicated to the memory of Herman Wallace, one of the Angola Three. Wallace, along with Robert King and Albert Woodfox, spent decades in solitary confinement at Angola Prison in Louisiana for the murder of a prison guard. Wallace maintained his innocence and all three became the face of poor prison conditions in the U.S. Wallace passed away in October, three days after his release. King was released in 2001 while Woodfox remains in Angola.

Eric Balaban from ACLU National Prison Project will also serve on a 10:45 a.m. panel on the re-emergence of debtors’ prisons. Another panel at 1:30 p.m. will explore lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual issues in prison and features Wesley Ware, director of Breakout!, a local organization that seeks to end the criminalization of LGBT youth who are directly impacted by the criminal or juvenile justice system in New Orleans.

Other featured speakers participating include Mercedes Montagnes from Promise of Justice Initiative, Alex Friedman from Prison Legal News, and representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union and Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition.

A full list of moderators and panelists is available online. For more information, please contact Elizabeth Elliot.

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