Wednesday February 1, 2006

Rehabilitating Felons

Two convicted felons will join a national advocate to talk about how denying some rights like voting or welfare to convicted felons impacts future crime, communities and race relations.

An advocate for prisoner rights and rehabilitation will be joined by two living examples of convicted felons who made the most of second chances at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, in the University of Dayton's Science Center.

Sentencing Project Assistant Director Marc Mauer will discuss how denying some rights like voting or welfare to convicted felons impacts future crime, communities and race relations. Montgomery County Common Pleas Court staff attorney Scott Washington and Khalil Osiris, executive director of the National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform, will join Mauer to also talk about the forces behind the prison population explosion during the past 30 years.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is part of 40th anniversary events for UD's criminal justice studies program.

Washington, a former self-admitted crack addict and drug dealer, said he was arrested 14 times, couldn't kick cocaine despite two drug rehabilitation stints, and could barely read and write. After the birth of his son in 1990, Washington turned his life around and ultimately graduated from UD's School of Law.

Osiris earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Boston University while serving a 15-year prison sentence. Also while in prison, he organized prisoner study groups and coordinated a series of lectures for prisoners by community leaders.

Osiris teaches a course on the psychology of incarceration at Wright State University.

Washington and Osiris will deliver opening comments on behalf of the Miami Valley Community Summit on Eliminating Racism's criminal justice caucus.

Mauer wrote "Race to Incarcerate," a semifinalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and co-edited, "Invisible Punishment," a collection of essays on the social costs of imprisonment.

The Sentencing Project has helped establish alternative sentencing programs in more than 22 states and consulted on issues such as juvenile detention, racial disparity and the trial of juveniles in adult court.
The project also consults with government officials on alleviating prison overcrowding and racial and economic disparities in sentencing.

The UD criminal justice studies program, UD Center for Social Concern and UD Black Law Student Association are among the event's sponsors.

For interviews, contact Shawn Robinson at (937) 229-3391.