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Our Fellow Americans: A Symposium on Public Conviction Registries

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The Drawing Center

35 Wooster Street

New York, NY 10013

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Join us for a symposium that explores the unintended consequences of public registration laws and the expansion of the carceral state.

About this Event

Presented as part of The Drawing Center's Winter Term 2020, an initiative that investigates drawing as a tool for addressing inequity and encouraging social change, this public symposium is organized in conjunction with the Chicago 400, a grassroots campaign of formerly incarcerated and convicted people experiencing homelessness in Chicago, and artist, policy advocate, and researcher Laurie Jo Reynolds.

Featuring a range of participants, the symposium builds upon the Chicago 400's ongoing advocacy work and explores the intersection of drawing and criminal justice reform, specifically as it relates to fear-based policies, the unintended consequences of public registration laws, and the expansion of the carceral state.

All events are free and open to the public.

Symposium Schedule

12–1pm | We Carry the Laws Out: Opening Reception + Exhibition Walkthrough

Join members of the Chicago 400 Art Committee for a walkthrough of the exhibition of drawings that diagram and depict how they follow the registry regime and housing and public space banishment laws.

1–2pm | Meet the Chicago 400: Lessons in the Carceral State

Learn more about the Chicago 400’s unique arts and organizing campaign to reform registry and banishment laws. The conversation will describe the organizing strategy, how art is a transformative part of the work, and advocacy for policies that prevent victimization, support survivors, and hold people accountable for harm.

Participants include: Laurie Jo Reynolds, Assistant Professor, Public Art, Public Policy, and Media; Coordinator, Chicago 400 Alliance; Members of the Chicago 400; Maya Szilak, Research and Policy Counsel, John Howard Association of Illinois

2:30pm–3:30pm | Let Us Try to Explain This: New Yorkers Are Detained in Locked Facilities Because They Can’t Find Housing That Doesn’t Exist

Visitors to the exhibit may wonder if there is a similar problem in New York, or a campaign to address it. Indeed, New York also has policies with extreme unintended consequences. Learn about the people affected, the constitutionality of this arrangement, and strategies to address this crisis from legal experts, advocates, and people who have been through this experience.

Participants include: Pauline Syrnik, Fellow, Legal Aid Society, Criminal Appeals Bureau; Allison Frankel, Aryeh Neier Fellow, Human Rights Watch/ACLU; Charles King, Chief Executive Officer, Housing Works; Robert Newman, Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Practice, Special Litigation Unit; and counsel for Richard Alcantara in Alcantara v. Annucci

4pm–4:45pm | The Logic of the Punitive State

Lester Packingham was convicted of a felony for saying “Thank you Jesus” on a public Facebook post. He decided to challenge it, ultimately taking the case to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously that his First Amendment rights were violated. Using this rare victory as a point of departure, Goldberg will discuss strategies for addressing the expansive reach of the carceral state. Lancaster will historicize this discussion by exploring the complicated relationship between sexuality and punishment in our society, the modern suburban culture of fear, and the punitive logic that has put down deep roots in everyday American life.

Participants include: David T. Goldberg, constitutional and public law litigator in the U.S. Supreme Court and federal and state appellate courts, and counsel for Lester Packingham in Packingham v. North Carolina; and Roger Lancaster, Professor of Anthropology and Cultural Studies, George Mason University, and author of Sex Panic and the Punitive State

5–6pm | Closing Reception

Join organizers, presenters, and other policy advocates for a closing reception of the show and the symposium.

6–8pm | Next Steps Mixer and Dinner (organized by the New York Action Alliance)

The New York Action Alliance and The Chicago 400 are co-hosting a “Next Steps” Mixer to bring together professionals, advocates, those directly impacted, and/or anyone else interested in helping New York and other states become leaders in transforming their public conviction registry laws.

Sign up to join us at a restaurant within walking distance of the Drawing Center for a light, buffet-style meal. Please RSVP by 1/17/2020. For details click here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-york-action-alliance-chicago-400-mixer-tickets-88401068977

Image: Map depicting the enforcement of registration laws. Courtesy of the Chicago 400.

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The Drawing Center

35 Wooster Street

New York, NY 10013

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