Upcoming Events

Protest at CCA shareholder meeting

Thursday, May 16, 2013 – 9:30am

10 Burton Hills Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37215

CCA is the oldest for-profit prison company in the nation.  On May 16th, they will be holding their annual shareholder meeting.

Join the Public Safety and Justice Campaign to tell CCA that 30 years of profiting from human misery is nothing to celebrate!       May 15, 7pm: Forum on private prisons (location TBD)
8:30 pm: Sign-making party (location TBD)

May 16, 9 am – 10:30 am: Protest
Outside the CCA shareholder meeting:
10 Burton Hills Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37215

For more information, click here or join this facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/171878392971016/.

Rethinking Prisons Conference

May 3-5, 2013
Vanderbilt University

Confirmed speakers include Joy James (The New Abolitionists: (Neo) Slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison Writings), Susan Rosenberg (An American Radical: Political Prisoner in my own Country), and Mark L. Taylor (The Theological and the Political: On the Weight of the World).


Book Launch and Activist Roundtable – Maroon the Implacable: The Collected Works of Russell Maroon Shoatz

Monday, April 8 at 5pm, Vanderbilt University, Furman Hall (room 109)  

Russell Maroon Shoatz is an activist and scholar who draws on the history of fugitive slave communities to address contemporary issues of poverty, violence, racism, sexism, environmental destruction, and the prison industrial complex.  He is also a prisoner at Pennsylvania supermax prison, where he has been held in solitary confinement for 21 consecutive years.  In this book, Maroon shows how the decentralized structure of fugitive slave communities could work as a model for grass-roots political organizing today, including the Occupy movement.

Maroon’s daughter, Theresa Shoatz, and his editor, Quincy Saul, will participate in a roundtable discussion of Maroon’s work and the international campaign for his release from solitary confinement.  They will be joined by local activists Anne Alukonis of OUR Vanderbilt, as well as representatives from Workers’ Dignity and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.  Together, we will explore the possibilities for “maroon” activism from the prison industrial complex to the farms, kitchens, and classrooms of Tennessee.

Books will be available for purchase, and refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.  No reservations are required.


Berry Lecture: “Is Solitary Confinement a Living Death Penalty”

Monday, March 18 at 7pm, Furman Hall, room 106, Vanderbilt University.

In recent years, several states have abolished the death penalty, and other states seem to be moving in the direction of abolition.  Sentences of life without parole are now common replacements for death sentences, and long-term solitary confinement is an increasingly popular instrument for controlling prison populations. Yet there is good reason to think that long-term solitary confinement has debilitating psychological effects which render people unable to engage socially.  So if capital punishment has been replaced by a sentence of life without parole in a system where long-term solitary confinement is increasingly common, have we truly abolished the death penalty?  Or have we replaced it with a form of living death?

On Monday, March 18 at 7pm, Lisa Guenther will be giving a Berry Lecture at Vanderbilt University on the question: “Is Solitary Confinement a Living Death Penalty?” The lecture will take place in Furman Hall, room 106.  Snacks and drinks will be served beginning at 6:15.   The event is free and open to the public.


Richard Lippke

March 22, 2013, 3:10 – 5pm
Vanderbilt Philosophy Department, Furman Hall 109

Professor, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Indiana, Bloomington, and author of Rethinking Imprisonment.

Sponsored by the Vanderbilt Philosophy department as part of the Philosophy colloquium series.


Michelle Alexander: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

January 21, 2013, 7pm
Vanderbilt University, Langford Auditorium, 2201 West End Ave.

Martin Luther King keynote address, organized by the MLK Committee, based in the Office of Religious Life.


Art from Death Row: Imagining Justice from the Inside Out

January 16 – February 14, 2013
Sarratt Gallery, main lobby of Sarratt Student Center, Vanderbilt University

Art exhibit featuring work from prisoners currently on death row at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.  For a preview of the art work, click here.

Gallery Opening: Monday, January 21, 5pm.

Thank you to The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy for supporting this project.


The Color of Resistance: The Life and Work of Russell Maroon Shoats

October 11, 2012, 4 – 6pm
Vanderbilt University, Buttrick Hall 102

Russell Maroon Shoats is a writer, activist and political theorist. He is also a prisoner at SCI Greene, where he has been held in solitary confinement for 30 years.

In his life and work, Maroon draws connections between the decentralized political structure of maroon (or fugitive slave) communities, radical black politics, the Occupy movement, environmentalism, and global feminisms.  In recent years, Maroon has collaborated with a group of ecosocialist artists and activists called Scientific Soul Sessions.

This panel discussion will address personal, political and philosophical aspects of Maroon’s life and work. Participants include Maroon’s daughter, Theresa Shoatz, journalist and member of Scientific Soul Sessions, Kanya D’Almeida, Vanderbilt History professor and author of Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolution, Jane Landers, and Vanderbilt Philosophy professor and author of Social Death and its Afterlives: A Critical Phenomenology of Solitary Confinement (forthcoming from Minnesota University Press), Lisa Guenther.


Abu Ali Abdur’Rahman: The Injustice of Justice on Tennessee’s Death Row

Monday, September 24, 10 am – 11 am
Vanderbilt Divinity School, room 122 (on the first floor beside Suzie’s Café)

In March 1987, Abdur’Rahman was sentenced to death for the murder of drug dealer Patrick Daniels in Davidson County. Twenty-five years later he remains on Tennessee’s Death Row in the River Bend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville. His co-defendant, Harold Devalle Miller, received a term sentence for second-degree murder and was released from parole approximately 10 years after the crime.

The U.S. Supreme Court has twice refused to consider his appeals –- most recently in June — although the record shows that he is on death row because of a combination of the trial jury not being told about childhood abuse by his parents and his mental illness, his defense counsel not providing him with adequate representation, and the prosecutor withholding evidence from both the defense counsel and from the jury.

Clemency from Gov. Bill Haslam is Abdur’Rahman’s only possible legal recourse from execution. The presentation will be made by the Abdur’Rahman Clemency Team and will include a slide presentation as well as a question and answer period. The participants will include the Rev. Joe Ingle, a member of Abdur’Rahman’s spiritual team; and Ed Miller, a Nashville attorney and Episcopalian who has written about the injustice of the Abdur’Rahman case.


Coming Back to Life:  One Man’s Story of Wrongful Conviction

September 5, 2012, 11:30am – 1pm
Nashville Public Library

Thinking Outside of the (Lunch) Box series at the Nashville Public Library with Ndume Olatushani, a former prisoner on Tennessee’s death row who was released after serving 28 years for a crime he did not commit.  The “Thinking Out of the (Lunch) Box” event will take place from noon to 1 p.m. at the downtown Nashville Public Library. Free boxed lunches will be available beginning at 11:30 a.m. while supplies last.  The event is free and all are welcome, but a $5 donation is requested. No R.S.V.P. is required.

Watch a full video recording of the event here.


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