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The Punitive Imagination

Friday, September 28, 2012

University of Alabama School of Law
Bedsole Moot Courtroom (140)

Speaker List

As is widely known, the United States is one of the most punitive nations in the world. Our prison and jail population is enormous. We lock up more people for longer periods of time than any comparable nation. Moreover, we remain attached to capital punishment long after most of our peer countries have branded it an abuse of human rights. In total our approach to punishment has been aptly labelled “harsh justice.”

The purpose of this symposium is to inquire into the cultural conditions and presuppositions that undergird America’s approach to punishment and the life of punishment in American culture. Among the questions we wish to explore are: What assumptions about persons and social institutions provide the basis for American punitiveness? How does punishment depend on, and influence, prevailing views of free will, responsibility, desert, blameworthiness? Where/how are those views subject to challenge in our punitive practices? How is punishment portrayed in popular culture? And, how do our imaginings of punishment get played out in our practices?”

8:15 – 8:30
Welcome and Introduction
Dean Kenneth Randall
University of Alabama School of Law
Dr. Austin Sarat
Justice Hugo L. Black Visiting Senior Faculty Scholar, The University of Alabama School of Law and William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Director of Mellon Project on Student-Faculty Research, Amherst College

8:30 – 9:45 Session I
Imprisonment Without Justice
Professor Caleb Smith, American Studies and English, Yale University
Moderator: Dargan Ware

9:45 – 10:15 Break

10:15 – 11:30 Session II
Injustice, Authority and the Criminal Law
Professor Stephen P. Garvey, Cornell Law School
Moderator: Scott Gray

11:30 – 1:00 Lunch and Session III
Punishment By Various Other Names
Professor Leo Katz, University of Pennsylvania School of Law
Moderator: Jane Ann Fossom

1:00 – 1:30 Break

1:30 – 2:45 Session IV
“To See a World in a Grain of Sand”: Dignity and Indignity in American Criminal Justice
Professor Carol S. Steiker, Harvard Law School
Moderator: Wes Wintermeyer

2:45 – 3:15 Break

3:15 – 4:30 Session V
“Which Question? Which Lie?” Reflections on Payne v. Tennessee and the “Quick Glimpse” of Life
Professor Michelle Brown, Sociology, University of Tennessee
Moderator: Taylor Seman

4:30-5:00 Session VI
“Overview and Commentary”
Patricia Ewick, Sociology, Clark University
Moderator: Scott Frederick

5:00 Reception