NLG Students Organize Dozens of Events for #WAMI2021

by Charlie Blodnieks, NLG Program Assistant

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During this year’s Week Against Mass Incarceration (WAMI), NLG law students organized around the theme of “Abolition and Beyond,” including all locations and instances in which people are held against their will, including jails, immigration detention, juvenile detention facilities, psychiatric wards, and more. We encouraged students to include consideration of the abolition of policing as part of the larger mass incarceration system (and in line with the NLG’s 2020 resolution supporting the abolition of policing).

Now a full year into the pandemic, NLG law students created an week of events entirely online, incorporating the specific issues facing incarcerated people during the COVID-19 crisis. And, as the world has taken a closer look at our healthcare and medical systems, our law students took on the task of examining these locations as an expansion of the carceral complex.

Read below for highlights, and thank you to our law students for your fantastic work during #WAM2021!

Pepperdine University NLG organized a full week of programming, including panels including: “The Death Penalty: Inequities and Realities of Capital Punishment,” “The Broken System for Incarcerated Women,” “Recidivism and Reintegration: Returning to Life After Incarceration,” and “Juvenile Injustice: Policy and Reform in our Criminal Justice System.”

University of North Carolina NLG put together multiple online panels and programs, including creating police accountability scorecards for Emancipate NC, presenting a panel on the intersection of mass incarceration and civil legal services, and screening the film Judas and the Black Messiah

NLG DePaul worked in collaboration with various organizations to put together events including a screening of the film Belly of the Beast, a panel on COVID-19 in carceral facilities, a panel discussion, “Attica: 50 Years Later,” with Michael Deutch of the People’s Law Office and Heather Ann Thompson, author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971, among other events

Moritz NLG put together multiple different projects, including a zine on abolition, a letter-writing campaign, a series of panels on Zoom, and two drives for both books and period products for folks incarcerated in local jails and prisons

Harvard NLG students put together an online event in collaboration with organizers from Families for Justice as Healing (FJAH) to learn about successes and ongoing struggles to free women from Framingham and block the construction of a new women’s prison in Massachusetts

New England Law NLG put together various social media campaigns on policing in the U.S., prison abolition, disability justice, immigrant detention, and the war on drugs, ending the week with a Zoom movie night watching 13th

Loyola New Orleans NLG held an online panel discussion, “Imagining a Decarcerated Louisiana,” with speakers from various community organizations, and put together an online collection of testimonials from their correspondance with folks incarcerated at Angola in New Orleans

Widener University NLG held multiple panels on progressive prosecutors, juvenile detention, and voting rights, as well as organizing a book drive for LGBTQ+ incarcerated people

Georgetown NLG launched a letter writing hour, to continue throughout the rest of the semester, and put together a panel on abolition

University of Michigan NLG held a panel on Abolition at UMich, featuring GEO organizers to discuss campus abolitionist movements, and screened the movie The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

University of Alabama NLG organized a week long book drive for incarcerated folks, and held three online events, including a discussion on student-led abolition movements, a screening of Visions of Abolition, and a panel on impact litigation

Cardozo NLG students presented a Q&A panel with Baz Dreisinger, author of Incarceration Nations, and a discussion on grassroots abolition movements across the country, with speakers from NYC, Texas, Georgia, and St. Louis

Wayne State University NLG students coordinated a panel discussion between Washtenaw County prosecutors and representatives from Detroit Justice Center and the Neighborhood Defender Service of Detroit to discuss the role of prison abolition in the larger movement to end mass incarceration

Fordham NLG students organized a panel, “A Country Without Prisons: Dispelling Myths that Deter Abolition,” to deconstruct scare-tactics surrounding abolition

Maurer NLG hosted a panel, “Prison Abolition and Beyond: Addressing Mass Incarceration in Our Community,” with Public Defender Kyle Dugger and author Jeanne Bishop

University of Oregon NLG Chapter put on a week of interactive online programming, including sessions on Disarming University of Oregon Police Department, Abolition and Climate Justice, and Intro to Abolition

University of Connecticut Law NLG Chapter presented a series of panel discussions centering those most marginalized by the policing system, including discussions on Women and LGBTQ+ People in Prisons, the Worldwide Movement for Black Lives, Ending the War on People Who Use Drugs, and Pandemic Priorities: the Inequitable Impact of COVID-19 on People Who Are Incarcerated

Notre Dame Law NLG organized two events, a talk on Prison Abolition Activism with “IDOC Watch”, a network of prisoners in Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) and legal workers outside, as well as a talk on the School to Prison Pipeline with local educators who teach students in Indiana’s Westville Correctional Facility

University of Minnesota NLG hosted a two-week book drive for Women’s Prison Book Project, held event on the fight for abolition with Kevin Reese from Until We Are All Free, and began preparing for Derek Chauvin’s murder trial

University of Montana NLG put together a full week of events, speakers, and workshops with attorneys and abolitionists from across Montana and the country, including: “Mass incarceration, COVID-19 and extreme sentencing,” “The Federal Death Penalty: Against the Will of Navajo Nation,” “Police Abolition v. The January 6 Coup,” and “Tribal and Local Criminal Justice Reform Opportunities”

Temple Law NLG organized a series of events, including “Mental Health and Medical Care: Inside and Outside Prison,” “Judges and Lawyers Addressing Mass Incarceration,” and “Reform vs. Abolition”

TAMU NLG hosted a panel on “Public Defense and Mass Incarceration,” and put together a series of educational materials on mass incarceration, prison abolition, and accountability

Quinnipiac NLG hosted a week of panels and events including “Racial Justice and Equal Rights” and “Felony Disenfranchisement in Connecticut,” among others