Each year, the Goldfarb Center chooses an annual public policy theme that informs and shapes our choices for speakers and events. The theme is the focal point for the Goldfarb Freedom of Expression Policy Symposium held in the spring which offers a $2,000 prize for the best public policy student proposal related to the theme.
The theme for the academic year 2020-2021 is the U.S. Criminal Justice System and Racial Inequities. The murder of George Floyd and the national protests it sparked was a stark reminder that American citizens experience justice in vastly different ways based on the color of their skin.
The Goldfarb Center has a responsibility to be a leader in this area to help inform the Colby community about how the criminal justice system has exacerbated disparity between races. The theme is not meant to focus only on police reform, but to more broadly include other criminal justice issues such as mass incarceration.
This page serves as an information hub including regularly updated links to news articles, scholarly sources, films, books, and Goldfarb-sponsored talks to help educate and inform students who plan to participate in the spring policy competition.
Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia’s fourth district, now in his seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives, is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Secretary of the Congressional Black Caucus. As the author of the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act, a part of the Congressional Black Caucus’s response to police and vigilante violence against African Americans across the country, he was a perfect speaker for this year’s annual theme, U.S. Criminal Justice System and Racial Inequities.
The discussion was opened by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies Dr. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes and moderated by Goldfarb Center Executive Director Kimberly Flowers, Halle Carroll ’23, and Reagan Dennis ’23. The group discussed the presidential candidates’ stances on criminal justice reform, the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, and a number of other pertinent subjects regarding criminal justice.
Check out the recorded video below!
This piece is a very brief overview of the two presidential candidates and their stances on police funding, Black Lives Matter, fighting crime, prison reform, gun control, and the death penalty. It offers single sentence summaries for complex issues, but indicates the rising importance of criminal justice reform in America’s politics.
This article discusses Proposition 20 that is on the California ballot for this year’s elections that would increase the severity of penalties for people convicted of some theft and fraud crimes. It also cites previous measures that have passed in California, such as the 1994 three strikes law, and contextualizes the changing political appetite for “law and order” in the state.
Following a contentious campaign for district attorney that focused on toughness on crime, a summer of national protests against police brutality might have changed the perspective on the role of district attorneys. Prosecutors have typically been allies of local law enforcement, but recently may need to step more firmly into the role of overseers. The article also discusses other races in America that are evidence of this new role as well.
This article discusses the financial implications of incarceration, emphasizing the outsized impact it has on people of color. Difficulties with securing loans, opening a bank account, or even finding someone willing to hire an ex-con leads to a number of complications in day-to-day life, and even impacts one’s ability to vote.
This article details the state-level ballot initiatives across the country that pertain to criminal justice, whether it is due to state prison populations, re-enfranchising voters with felony records, or changing the oversight process of police departments. The states included are California, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Utah, and Oregon, indicating the wide reach of Criminal Justice reform during this election cycle.
Sarah Collins Rudolph was 12 years old when the explosion of a bomb, planted by the Ku Klux Klan, ripped through the basement of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963.
A study that tests the “shoot/don’t shoot” response by white and black police officers when faced with white or black assailants holding unidentifiable objects. Available for free download.
American Civil Liberties Union Racial Justice Program
Link to download Gabriel J. Chin’s paper, Race, the War on Drugs, and the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction