Department of history to host speech on mass incarceration

A presentation will be held on the Boca Raton campus that discusses how the economy, politics and government is affected by historical policies of mass incarceration.


Keynote speaker Dr. Heather Ann Thompson will discuss mass incarceration from a historical standpoint. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Joe Pye, Staff Writer

Florida Atlantic’s Peace Studies program and the department of history will host Why Incarceration Matters, a presentation discussing the prison system’s effect on the United States from a historical perspective.

The event will take place on Tuesday, March 22, on the fifth floor of S.E. Wimberly Library of the Boca Raton campus at 3 p.m. The event speaker is Heather Ann Thompson, a professor from the University of Michigan.

Thompson recently served on a blue-ribbon panel for the National Academy of Sciences, a private non-profit organization of “distinguished scholars,” according to its site. The panel studied the causes and consequences of mass incarceration in the U.S.

The event was arranged by Evan P. Bennett, assistant professor of the department of history, to highlight historical events involving incarceration — such as the civil rights movement and the Attica uprising — and discuss present-day consequences.

“In the 1980s, Florida pursued a policy that doubled down on tougher sentencing,” said Bennett. “Prison costs a lot of money — how do you keep funding that?”

The event is a part of the Peace Studies lecture series, created by the Peace Studies program to provide “extensive investigation and understanding of the causes of peace from a multidisciplinary perspective,” according to its mission statement.

“Mass incarceration is a bigger debate now than it was 20 years ago,” said Bennett. “People on the right and the left are questioning how expensive it is to maintain.”

For more information on the event, contact Bennett at 561-297-0008 or by email at [email protected].

Joe Pye is a staff writer with the University Press. To contact him regarding this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.