Reasonable Doubts: Making an Exoneree

May 26, 2022, 4-5:30 p.m.
with Special Guests

Online Event: Register Here

“Reasonable Doubts: Making an Exoneree” is taught by Professor Sharon Daniel, UCSC Film and Digital Media, in collaboration with Professor of Government and Law at Georgetown Marc Howard and his childhood friend, Adjunct Professor Marty Tankleff, who was himself wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for almost 18 years before being exonerated. Howard and Tankleff developed Georgetown’s Making an Exonoree course in 2018, and its students have already won the release of three men and made significant progress in the legal prospects of several others.

For the current 2022 class, the original crimes and convictions of five people have been re-investigated, and students have painstakingly documented the main issues, challenges, injustices, and stories involved in each case, producing short documentary films, interactive documentaries, and social media campaigns designed to provide humanizing portraits of the incarcerated people’s lives and complicated legal cases. For more on “Making an Exoneree,” read a recent news article here.

“Reasonable Doubts: Making an Exoneree” is supported by the Institute of the Arts and Science’s Visualizing Abolition public scholarship initiative, organized by Professor Gina Dent, Feminist Studies and Dr. Rachel Nelson, Director, IAS, with support from the Mellon Foundation.

In Person Event: Abolition. Feminism. Now.

May 21, 2022, 2-3:30 p.m.
w/ Angela Davis, Gina Dent, Erica Meiners, and Beth Richie

IN PERSON EVENT. Location: Quarry Amphitheater at UCSC

Register Here

Join us for a conversation with abolitionist scholars Angela Davis, Gina Dent, Erica Meiners, and Beth Richie as they discuss their new book, Abolition. Feminism. Now.

This event is free and open to the public. Free tickets available online. Tickets and admission details to be announced. Please familiarize yourself in advance with the full COVID-19 protocols required for admission..

As a politic and a practice, abolition increasingly shapes our political moment—halting the construction of new jails and propelling movements to divest from policing. Yet erased from this landscape are not only the central histories of feminist—usually queer, anti-capitalist, grassroots, and women of color—organizing that continue to cultivate abolition but a recognition of the stark reality: abolition is our best response to endemic forms of state and interpersonal gender and sexual violence. Amplifying the analysis and the theories of change generated from vibrant community based organizing, Abolition. Feminism. Now. surfaces necessary historical genealogies, key internationalist learnings, and everyday practices to grow our collective and flourishing present and futures. Abolition. Feminism. Now. is available for purchase online or in person at Bookshop Santa Cruz.

This conversation is sponsored by the Institute of the Arts and Sciences, The Humanities Institute, Feminist Studies, and Bookshop Santa Cruz as part of the Andrew W. Mellon funded Visualizing Abolition initiative UC Santa Cruz.

Angela Y. Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, is a renowned activist and scholar. The author of numerous monographs, including most recently, Freedom is a Constant Struggle, 2015, for decades Davis has been for decades at the forefront of research and activism on prison abolition and the related intersections of race, gender, and class.

Gina Dent is Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, History of Consciousness, and Legal Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz. The editor of Black Popular Culture, and a prison abolition activist for more than 25 years, Dent is also the director of UC Santa Cruz’s groundbreaking public scholarship initiative, Visualizing Abolition, an art and education project aimed at shifting the social attachment to prisons.

Erica R. Meiners is Professor of Education and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Northeastern Illinois University and author most recently of For the Children? Protecting Innocence in a Carceral State, 2016. Meiners has collaboratively started and works alongside a range of ongoing mobilizations for liberation, particularly movements that involve access to free public education for all, including people during and after incarceration, and other queer abolitionist struggles.

Beth E. Richie is Director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, and Professor of Black studies and criminology, law, and justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Richie’s most recent publication, Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America’s Prison Nation, 2012 demonstrates the emphasis of both her scholarly and activist work on how race/ethnicity and social position affect women’s experience of violence and incarceration, focusing on the experiences of African American battered women and sexual assault survivors.

Online Event: Rhodessa Jones with Sarah Crowell

April 25, 2022, 5-6:30 pm.

Rhodessa Jones' work in education, performance and activism has taken place in corrections and for educational institutions internationally. She conducted the Medea Project in South African prisons, working with incarcerated women and trained correctional personnel and local artists. In 2012, the U.S. Department of State, Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau named her as Arts Envoy for the U.S. Embassy. Jones is a recipient of many awards and honors including the US Artist Fellowship; the Pew Fellowship; SF Bay Guardian’s Lifetime Achievement Award; SF Foundation Community Leadership Award; Non-Profit Arts Excellence Award by the SF Business Arts Council; and an Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political Theater. From 2018-2021, she was Frank H.T. Rhodes Chair at Cornell University. She was appointed as a Rhodes Professor "to strengthen the undergraduate experience by bringing individuals from every walk of life who represent excellence of achievement to the university." As a Visiting Professor at Dartmouth College, Jones was invited to join August Wilson, Cornel West, Yo-Yo Ma, and Anna Deavere Smith as a “Montgomery Fellow”, fostering “the advancement of the academic realm of the College in ways that will significantly add to the quality and character of the institution.” Most recently, Jones was an Actress/Voice Talent for the character “Lulu”, in Disney's (Pixar) award-winning feature length animated film, SOUL.

Event Archive: Cassils and rafa esparza

November 16, 2021, 4-5:30 PM PST

Cassils and rafa esparza are both internationally renowned performance and visual artists who, in 2020, organized the large-scale socially engaged collaboration: In Plain Sight. In Plain Sight is a coalition of 80 artists, led by Cassils and esparza, united to create an artwork dedicated to the abolition of immigrant detention and the United States culture of incarceration.

Cassils is a transgender artist who makes their own body the material and protagonist of their performances. Cassils's art contemplates the history(s) of LGBTQI+ violence, representation, struggle and survival. They have had recent solo exhibitions premier globally, including at the Perth Institute for Contemporary Arts, Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, and MU Hybrid Art House, Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Cassils is the recipient of many awards and fellowships, such as a Fleck Residency from the Banff Center for the Arts, a Villa Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, the inaugural ANTI Festival International Prize for Live Art, a California Community. Foundation Grant, and MOTHA (Museum of Transgender Hirstory) award. Their work has been featured in The New York Times, Artforum, Hyperallergic, Wired, The Guardian, among others.

rafa esparza is a multidisciplinary artist whose work reveals his interests in history, personal narratives, and kinship, his own relationship to colonization and the disrupted genealogies that it produces. Using live performance as his main form of inquiry, esparza employs site-specificity, materiality, memory, and what he calls (non)documentation as primary tools to investigate and expose ideologies, power structures, and binary forms of identity that establish narratives, history, and social environments. esparza is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant, and Art Matters Foundation grant, among others. In addition to multiple solo and group exhibitions, esparza has performed at art institutions including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. esparza's work is in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and others.

Event Archive: Abolition and Healing

Jerome Morgan and jackie sumell

November 8, 2021

Jerome Morgan was wrongfully incarcerated at the age of 17 in Angola State Penitentiary for 20 years before he was fully exonerated in 2016. He is an entrepreneur and organizer, mobilizing communities to confront systems of oppression and to create spaces to heal from the traumas caused by the criminal legal system. jackie sumell is an artist and abolitionist organizer. Her public art and garden project, Solitary Garden, a collaboration with Tim Young, who is currently on Death Row in San Quentin, is on view at UC Santa Cruz. Jerome and jackie will discuss their individual approaches to mutual aid and organizing against carceral systems. They will speak about their shared work with New Orleans youth at the Ngombo Café and Sanctuary, a café and healing space created by exonerees, artists, and activists which aims to “provide plant based products grown in tandem with incarcerated individuals to facilitate healing for the communities they have been accused of harming. It is through this unique collaboration that we envision a world without prisons.”

Jerome Morgan is a native New Orleanian who was wrongfully incarcerated at the age of 17 in Angola State Penitentiary for 20 years before he was fully exonerated in 2016. He is the Co-Founder/Programs Director of Free-Dem Foundations, Owner/Trauma Counselor with Jerome 4 Justice, LLC, Graphic Designer/Writer with Park Roots Productions, LLC, Real Estate Developer/Investor with J & A Justice Holdings, Inc, Social Justice Co-Facilitator/Community Activist with Students At the Center (SAC), Panelist for Criminal versus Gentlemen: What Defines The Black Male Image 1 & 2, co-author of “Unbreakable Resolve: Triumphant Stories of 3 True Gentlemen”, published in 2017 and “Go To Jail: Confronting a System of Oppression”, published 2021 and has conducted workshops at universities all over the country about how he overcame injustice. Morgan is a pioneer in Formerly Incarcerated Person (FIP) entrepreneurship, community-based business models, FIP peer mentoring, FIP youth advocacy and FIP literary works.

jackie sumell works at the intersection of abolition, social practice, and contemplative studies. She has spent the last 2-decades working directly with incarcerated folx, most notably, her elders Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe. She has been the recipient of multiple residencies and fellowships including, but not limited to, an A Blade of Grass Fellowship, Creative Capital, Art 4 Justice, Robert Rauschenberg Artist-as-Activist Fellowship, Soros Justice Fellowship, Eyebeam Project Fellowship and a Schloss Solitude Residency Fellowship. sumell’s work invites us to imagine a landscape without prisons. She is based in New Orleans, Louisiana where she continues to work on Herman's House, Solitary Gardens, The Prisoner’s Apothecary PLUS and several other community generated, advocacy based projects.

Event Archive: adrienne maree brown and Gilda Sheppard

October 26, 2021 4-5:30 PM PDT

Visualizing Abolition continues with author adrienne maree brown and Gilda Sheppard, director of the recent documentary, Since I Been Down.

Since I Been Down is a profound and revealing film investigating the circumstances and inequities that have landed a whole generation of Black and Brown youth in prison. In a wide-ranging conversation about filmmaking and abolition, brown and Sheppard will engage the critical questions the film raises about how to build trust, and restore and repair those lives devastated by the U.S. criminal legal system.

Registration to this event will also include limited access to an online screening of the award-winning Since I Been Down.

adrienne maree brown is the writer-in-residence at the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, and author of Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation, We Will Not Cancel Us: And Other Dreams of Transformative Justice, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, and Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds.

Gilda Sheppard’s award-winning documentaries have screened throughout the United States, as well as in Ghana, France, and Berlin. For over a decade Sheppard has been teaching sociology classes in Washington's women and men’s prisons. She is a sponsor for the Black Prisoners' Caucus, and is among the founders and faculty of Freedom Education for Puget Sound (FEPPS). Sheppard is the author of Culturally Relevant Arts Education for Social Justice: A Way Out of No Way among other publications. Sheppard is a professor of sociology, cultural, and media studies at Evergreen State College, Tacoma Campus.

Film Screening: Since I Been Down

October 21-28, 2021

Online Event

Gilda Sheppard's award-winning documentary, Since I Been Down, will be available for online viewing October 21-28.

Since I Been Down tells the story of the rising rates of incarceration and its impact on Tacoma, WA, as a result of the fear-based policies of the 1980s and ‘90s that labeled the community’s most-vulnerable children as irredeemable “super predators.” The targeting of Brown and Black youth led to the disappearance of an entire generation of children.

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