Home to five percent of the world’s population but roughly 25 percent of its incarcerated population, America is beginning to reckon with the failed endeavor that is mass incarceration. Those fighting to end mass incarceration and immigrant detention have called attention to the ways in which legal actors and institutions have been central to the growth of the carceral state. These advocates have proposed and championed a host of steps state and private actors can take to end mass incarceration, among them divestment from the prison industrial complex. Institutions such as JPMorgan Chase and Columbia University have severed their financial ties to the private prison industry, ending financing of private prisons and divesting the university’s endowment from private prisons, respectively. Students of the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign have called attention to the fact that Harvard’s nearly $40 billion endowment is invested in companies like GeoGroup and CoreCivic, which run prisons and immigration detention centers, and have raised questions about how such investments align with Harvard’s stated values and commitments, for which they have faced significant backlash and the prospect of disciplinary action from administration officials.
Co-sponsored by the HLS Criminal Justice Policy Program, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute, Blackletter Law Journal, HLS American Civil Liberties Union, HLS National Lawyers Guild, Lambda, and more. All are welcome at this discussion on the importance of safeguarding students’ right to dissent, the role of the law school and legal education in ending mass incarceration, and the merits of divestment. Please join us on April 25th at 6pm in Austin Hall 111. Dinner provided.
David J. Harris is the Managing Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice and a lecturer at Harvard Law School.
Martha A. Field is the Langdell Professor of Law at HLS and a constitutional law scholar.
Phil Torrey is the Managing Attorney of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program and a Lecturer on Law.