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.
Submit policy proposal by April 12th to [email protected]
Final presentations and awards – April 26th
Format: There is no specific format or template that you need to follow. Policy proposals can be in paragraph form and include bullets or graphs. You do not need to include citations; if you do, citations do not need to be counted towards the 2 page limit. Be persuasive and brief. Give context on the topic you have selected and how the policy change you propose will solve the problem.
On April 7, the Goldfarb Center hosted a powerful conversation between Executive Director Kimberly Flowers, Student Executive Board member Halle Carroll, and Anthony Ray Hinton, an author, advocate, and speaker who found his voice after being convicted for a crime he didn’t commit. He served as Alabama’s longest serving death row prisoner in history. For over an hour, Mr. Hinton exposed the realities of a prejudiced criminal legal system in Alabama, sharing intimate memories of his family and life. The day he got arrested, he remembered, he was mowing the grass for his beloved mother. When two police officers arrived in his front yard with a warrant for his arrest, Hinton remembers pleading with them to tell his mother what was happening. That day, the officers informed Hinton of a hard truth, that even if he was innocent, which Hinton had told them multiple times, it did not matter. First, he was facing a white judge, jury, prosecutor, and victim. And, they said, even if it was not him, he should “take the rap for one of his homeboys.” It was clear to Mr. Hinton that in his case, all he was guilty of was being black in America, and that fact would be and was enough to convict him.
When Halle asked how to communicate the injustice of the legal system in America, Mr. Hinton suggested reading his own case. Indeed, Mr. Hinton’s struggle to get a fair trial with adequate legal representation proves his attorney, Bryan Stevenson, right when he maintained that, “our criminal justice system treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent.” If you would like to watch this powerful speaker again, you can visit the Goldfarb Website and YouTube channel, or read his book, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row (2018).
Please note that the recorded video will be available to view until May 7, 2021; be sure to watch on the link below before that date!
A renowned lawyer who has been fighting for justice for almost 40 years, Jeffery Robinson is the deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) national office and director of the ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality, which houses the organization’s work on criminal and racial justice issues. He is a dynamic, sought-after speaker on the role of race in the criminal justice system and a nationally recognized trial attorney, having tried over 200 criminal cases to verdict.
Check out the recorded event to unpack the issues on criminal justice and racial inequities, which is the Center’s public policy theme of the year.
It was moderated by Goldfarb Center Executive Director Kimberly Flowers, Grace Hillis ’24 from the Goldfarb Student Executive Board, and Emmanuel Sogunle ’21 from the Student Government Association.
April 7, 2021 – NPR
This NPR news article discusses the impact of the testimony by Derek Chauvin’s colleagues in the police department during his murder trial. Their willingness to criticize the actions of Chauvin marks a potential transition in how the police in America react to violence while on duty. Some experts that NPR interviewed, however, caution against taking this trial as a standard for policing across the country.
April 7, 2021 – NPR
This Throughline episode follows the often-tragic saga of policing in America with regard to black citizens. For over an hour, the podcast details the origins of policing and why it has had an undue impact on communities of color.
After the first week of former-Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, NBC news offers a breif recap of the proceedings. They discuss the use of “spark of life” testimony by the prosecution, the testimony of Chauvin’s former bosses, and some disagreements over the specifics of some evidence presented by the prosecution. The article gives a good background to all of the information being presented in the Minneapolis courtroom.
Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s pick for attorney general, said in his Senate Judiciary Committee meeting that he would pursue strong enforcement of civil-rights laws. He acknowledged the ongoing discrimination of communities of color in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system as a whole. As the top law-enforcement officer of the United States, the attorney general could set a new precedent for criminal justice in America during his tenure.
This article discusses how the police are funded in America, an especially pertinent topic following a summer of calls to defund the institution. While former felons in Florida garnered national attention during the 2020 election season because their court fees blocked their right to vote, this article points out that the problem extends past felony disenfranchisement. The article also details the rise in court fees across the country, and emphasizes the disproportionate impact it has on black and brown families in the nation.
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