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Keynote Speakers and Lecturers
Speakers and lecturers are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Reginald Dwayne Betts
Reginald Dwayne Betts is author of the memoir A Question of Freedom (Avery, 2009) and the poetry collection Shahid Reads His Own Palm (Alice James Books, 2010). He is a 2010 Soros Justice Fellow and 2011 Radcliffe Fellow. As a poet, essayist and national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice, Betts writes and lectures about the impact of mass incarceration on American society. In April 2012, President Obama appointed Betts to the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In 2010 he was awarded an NAACP Image Award for A Question of Freedom. He received his B.A. from the University of Maryland.
Rebecca Ginsburg is a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the current director and co-founder of the Education Justice Project (EJP), the campus’ prison education program, housed in the College of Education. EJP offers for-credit courses and a range of extracurricular activities to men incarcerated at Danville Correctional Center, a medium-security state prison. It engages almost one hundred faculty, graduate students, and staff from across campus in delivering these programs. EJP members and incarcerated EJP students also produce scholarship and creative work around higher education in prison.Rebecca received her Bachelors degree in English from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, her JD from the University of Michigan Law School, and a PhD in Architectural History from the University of California at Berkeley. It was while she was a graduate student at Berkeley that she first became involved in prison education.At the University of Illinois, she is on the faculty of the Department of Educational Policy, Organization and Leadership and the Department of Landscape Architecture. She teaches courses on the history of prisons, and education and social justice. She is currently working on an edited book project about higher education in prison. Rebecca has been a resident of Urbana-Champaign for almost 9 years. She shares a home with her husband, William Sullivan, daughters Anna (7) and Isabella (3) and stepson Eamon (15). It is her great pride that her children believe that it is normal for a university professor to teach in a prison.
Kyes Stevens is the founder and director of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project at Auburn University. She has been teaching in prisons since 2001 through a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Department of Justice. Stevens believes in getting education into places forgotten and dismissed in Alabama through compassionate and pragmatic means. In addition to prison education work, Kyes and her partner rescue cats and have a small farm.
Kyes’ talk will focus on the educational foundations and philosophical development of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, a program steeped in process and curiosity as driving catalyst for student and teacher development.
Participants are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Judge Michael John Aloi
Judge Michael John Aloi presently serves on the Board of the West Virginia Bar Foundation and is past Chairperson of the West Virginia State Bar Commission on Judicial Independence. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Judge Aloi as Circuit Judge for the 16th Judicial Circuit serving Marion County; his appointment became effective August 1, 2011. He was selected as an Impartial Hearing Officer for the West Virginia Department of Education and served as Hearing Examiner pro tempore for the West Virginia Department of Human Rights and Hearing Examiner for the West Virginia Ethics Commission. He is the only lawyer in West Virginia to be a Fellow of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators, and has received an AV rating from Martindale Hubble (the highest possible peer review rating for Legal Ability and Ethical Standards – only 5% of lawyers in Marion County have an AV rating.) Judge Aloi was recognized as Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by the Appalachian Center for Law and Public Service in 1997, and was also recognized as the West Virginia Association for Justice Member of the Year in 2001. He is married to Dr. Susan Aloi and together they have four grown children, Joey, Alexander, Hannah Rose, and Iris.
Valena Beety is an Associate Professor of Law at WVU College of Law, where she teaches Criminal Procedure, Post Conviction Remedies, and directs the innocence clinic (the West Virginia Innocence Project). She spent three year in Mississippi working on innocence cases, representing clients on death row, and investigating health care claims for inmates. She also taught a class on Prisons & Civil Rights as an adjunct at the University of Mississippi. Prior to her innocence work, she was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington D.C. Her scholarship focuses on causes of wrongful conviction, and her case work has involved DNA testing, forensic fraud, and eyewitness misidentifications.
Karen Cardozo completed a Masters in Higher Education Administration, Planning and Social Policy at Harvard University and a Ph.D. in English/American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. For the past two decades she has worked in various higher education capacities – as a career counselor, dean of student/academic affairs, and as a faculty member – on seven different campuses (large and small, public and private, single-sex and co-ed). Currently she teaches Interdisciplinary, Leadership and Women’s Studies at MCLA, one of few public liberal arts colleges in the U.S. Karen is also a singer-songwriter who performs in a folk-rock band, Show of Cards.
Her talk reverses the symposium’s focus on Education in Prisons to consider Prisons in Education—how people both inside and outside are equally invested, but differently situated, in a shared struggle for liberation as well as restorative justice. She explores: 1) access to prison studies for students on the outside, 2) lack of educational freedom in the current climate of state assessment and surveillance, and 3) implications for democracy when public higher education is not, financially, free. Her primary interest lies in fostering the kind of free public “higher” education that develops capacities for critical and integrative thinking, effective communication and problem-solving, contemplative practice, and the rigorous self-assessment that enables people to really figure out who they are and who they can become.
Lashonia Etheridge-Bey is a Public Speaker who can candidly, and articulately speak to consequence of youth violence and the effects of incarceration. She is a 39 year old Washingtonian who was born and raised in S.E., D.C. As a youth she made a series of bad decisions that landed her in prison for a violent crime where she spent almost half of her life. Lashonia was a teen mom, a high school dropout and she was unemployed and addicted to marijuana.
During her 18 years in prison she set out to rehabilitate and reform herself and make atonement to the utmost of her ability. She received her GED, began to pursue a college degree, helped develop and facilitate many classes from Victim Impact to Self Esteem and HIV and A.I.D.S. Awareness. She also facilitated wellness classes such as group boot camp fitness classes and more.
Lashonia was blessed with the opportunity to be released on parole on December 13, 2011. She made parole after her initial hearing. Since she has been home she has been blessed with a phenomenal support system that has enabled her to obtain full time employment, enroll in college and begin to rebuild her life. She has been in a series of transitional programs over the past 18 months since her release. This has enabled her to gradually make a seamless adjustment back into society. Lashonia has held several jobs since her release. Most recently she was hired as the staff assistant for the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizens Affairs. She is in the process of completing second year at Trinity University where she is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Relations.
Most importantly she is striving to develop a bond with her family which consists of two adult children who she left when they were three years old and 10 months old. Her children are now 23 years old and 20 years old. Lashonia is also a grandmother of two granddaughters.
She is the subject of the award winning film Time Zone which chronicles the first year of her reentry process.
Yvonne Hammond is a Graduate Teaching Assistant nearing the end of her fourth year of the WVU English PhD program. Yvonne’s interest in APBP began in a course which examined the subject of the death penalty in literature and lead her to serve as the president of the APBP student organization, a summer intern through the Office of Graduate Studies, and currently as a member of the APBP Board. As part of her dissertation work, Yvonne will be studying Norman Mailer’s Executioner’s Song, a novel detailing Gary Gilmore’s incarceration experiences.
Jeri Kirby is an instructor of criminology at West Virginia University. She received her B.A. in Political Science and Legal Studies, M.A. in Sociology, and is currently a Doctoral candidate in the Political Science Department at West Virginia University. Her research focuses on incarceration and prisoner re-entry into society. Jeri has been an Instructor of Inside Out since the summer of 2010 and is a member of the Inside Out National Steering Committee. Through the instruction of the Inside Out program Jeri has been able to merge a relationship with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and West Virginia University, specifically the Morgantown Federal Correctional Institute and the Hazelton Federal Correctional Complex. There has currently been over 200 students (inside and outside) that have completed the WVU Inside Out program.
Cody Leutgens is an MFA candidate at Chatham University and a senior instructor at Chatham’s Words Without Walls (WWW) program. Through his passion for education and knowledge obtained with WWW, he developed a creative writing program at the New Hanover County Jail in North Carolina. In response to questions from inmates and onlookers, “why choose to teach in jails?” Leutgens says he may never fully understand his students’ experiences, but gains more comprehension with each class and believes inmates have compelling stories to tell. During his lifetime, Leutgens desires to hear as many of these stories as possible.
Cody Leutgens plans to discuss possible avenues for starting new writing programs in jails, successful readings, prompts, and lesson plans, and share his insight and experience with teaching in alternative spaces.
Judith B. Lightner
Judith (Judy) B. Lightner earned her undergraduate degree in Education with a major in business from Madison College (now James Madison University) in Harrisonburg, VA. She received her M.A. from West Virginia College of Graduate Studies (formerly West Virginia University, Kanawha Valley Graduate Center, and now Marshall University Graduate Center) in Library/Media Studies. In 1998, with 30 years of experience, most of which was in school libraries, she retired from Kanawha County Schools, Charleston, WV. Her husband, a United Methodist Pastor, was transferred to Garrett County, Maryland. At that time she was hired by the Maryland State Department of Education as a Correctional Librarian at Western Correctional Institution, Cumberland, Maryland. She held that position for 5 ½ years.
“Working at WCI was my favorite all-time job. I felt that I was doing important work for those who were incarcerated and much less fortunate than I was. The motto of the Maryland Correctional Library System was ‘The library is the heart of the prison system,’ and I felt challenged to make the WCI Library the heart of that institution.”
J. T. McCamic
J. T. McCamic has concentrated his practice into two areas: plaintiff’s civil litigation and criminal defense, practicing in both state and federal courts in WV and PA. He was the Federal Criminal Justice Act Resource Counsel for the Northern District of West Virginia until the appointment of a Federal Public Defender. Since 1996 he has been the CJA District Representative for the Northern District of West Virginia. He is designated as a “learned counsel” in federal death penalty matters. Since 1998 he has been involved in Federal Death Penalty litigation in both West Virginia and Pennsylvania and most recently in the District of Puerto Rico. In 2001 he received the “Outstanding Contributions to the West Virginia Public Defender System Award” given annually to for outstanding contributions to the WV State Public Defender System by someone not an employee of the system. He serves as President of McCamic, Sacco, & McCoid , PLLC with offices in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Laura Leigh Morris
Laura Leigh Morris is the NEA/BOP Artist-in-Residence at Bryan Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, TX. There, she teaches creative writing courses to inmates. She’s also a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department at Texas A&M University. Her studies focus on fiction writing, Appalachian literature, and prison pedagogy.
Marc Nieson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and NYU Film School. His background includes children’s theatre, cattle chores, and a season with a one-ring circus. His prose has earned two Pushcart Prize nominations, the Literal Latte Fiction Award, and Raymond Carver Short Story Award, and a notable listing in Best American Essays 2012. His award-winning feature-length screenplays included BOTTOMLAND, THE DREAM CATCHER, and SPEED OF LIFE — the last two including aspects of prison/parole systems and “at-risk” youth. He serves on the faculty of Chatham University, is active in its Words Without Walls creative writing program at Allegheny County Jail, and will offer personal anecdotes and insights on this program’s intents and evolution in Education in Prison/Prisons in Education roundtable panel.
Anne Rice teaches African and African American Studies at Lehman College, City University of New York, as well as pre-college writing at Sing Sing Prison. She has participated as an “outside guest” at TEDx events in Ohio’s Marion Correctional Institute and Washington’s Monroe Correctional Complex, and she plans to attend a TEDx event in June at the LA County Jail. Anne is currently working on a book project entitled By Any Means Necessary: Life Writing, Incarceration, and the Media.
One note of interest from Anne: Lehman students will be viewing a poetry slam from inside Ohio’s Marion Correctional via Skype at our own prison conference on April 10, so that we will be bringing the “outside” into the “inside” electronically. “My coordinators at Marion tell me that the lifers among the poets are especially excited to being able to “visit” the Bronx.”
Commissioner Jim Rubenstein
Jim Rubenstein was appointed Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Corrections (DOC) in June 2001 by Governor Bob Wise after serving as Acting Commissioner since February 2001. Jim was re-appointed as Commissioner of the West Virginia DOC by Governor Joe Manchin, III on March 2, 2005 and again by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in November of 2010. He is tasked with the responsibility to oversee the day to day operations of the DOC throughout the entire State of West Virginia. He is currently the second-longest-serving Commissioner/Director in the nation. His qualifications and skills offer him a unique opportunity to bring insight and experience to the DOC. His career in corrections has prepared him with the management abilities, training and development skills, and interpersonal communications expertise necessary to promote programs, technologoy, and training within the DOC.
Jacqueline Roebuck Sakho
Jacqueline Roebuck Sakho is a member of the 2014 Professional Doctorate in Educational Leadership cohort in the School of Education at Duquesne University. She is examining racially inequitable discipline practices in schools through social justice lenses. Jacqueline seeks to understand how race is involved with discipline practices and the role educational leaders play in the ways in which racial disparity is enacted. Jacqueline continues to deepen this work through critical inquiry utilizing restorative justice approaches as methods to investigate systemic historical harms. She is also the Heinz Fellow for the Duquesne University, School of Education Canevin Center for Social Justice. Jacqueline currently consults with various community-centric organizations to facilitate educational outreach and community engagement. She has a rich background in facilitative dialogue, program development and transformative networking and has consulted with the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice at The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at Berkeley Law School, The NAACP Legal Defense Fund in partnership with Atlantic Philanthropies, among others to assist in developing transformative tools for community based organizations and organizers serving in vulnerable communities.
Jean Trounstine is an activist, author, and professor at Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts, who worked at Framingham Women’s Prison for ten years where she directed eight plays with prisoners. She co-directs Changing Lives Through Literature, an award-winning Massachusetts alternative sentencing program that has been in existence since 1991 and spread across the country and to England. She has written five books, including her highly-praised Shakespeare Behind Bars: The Power of Drama in a Women’s Prison, been featured on The Today Show, National Public Radio, The Connection, and Here and Now, and has appeared in numerous print publications here and abroad. She is on the steering committee of the Coalition for Effective Public Safety, an activist group for prison and parole reform in Massachusetts, and her new book about one prisoner who overcame the tragedy of sentencing juveniles to adult prisons, will be published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2015. She writes for Boston Magazine and at her blog. Follow her @justicewithjean.
Brenda Waugh is an attorney/mediator who became interested in restorative justice while working as an assistant prosecutor in Berkeley County, West Virginia in the late 1990’s. Victims often voiced their dissatisfaction with our criminal judicial processes, even after the offender received a lengthy prison sentence. Many victims indicated that that would prefer a process that included both an opportunity to privately speak with the offender, to discuss why he or she committed the crime, and a private opportunity for the offender to have the opportunity to apologize. After researching international initiatives to address victims’ needs more broadly, Ms. Waugh discovered restorative justice and the opportunities that the principles behind the concept of restorative justice that provide for structural reform to benefit victims, offenders and society. She completed a master’s degree in 2009 in restorative justice at the Center for Justice and Peace at Eastern Mennonite University and currently works in her private practice in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
A native of Princeton, West Virginia, Ms. Waugh has practiced law continuously since 1987 and has worked as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Berkeley and Kanawha Counties, as counsel to the West Virginia Judiciary Committee, and as a clerk to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Committee to develop procedural rules for Family Courts. Ms. Waugh has taught courses at both West Virginia University College of Law and Eastern Mennonite University and participated in presentations and workshops at conferences throughout the United States and Canada including the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and Association for Conflict Resolution. She has published articles in law journals including those published by Yale University and the Journal of Legal Education. She is certified by the West Virginia Supreme Court and the Virginia Supreme Court as a mediator. Further biographical information about Ms. Waugh may be located on her website.
Facilitators are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Katy Ryan founded the Appalachian Prison Book Project (APBP), a nonprofit organization that sends free books to women and men imprisoned in six states. Since 2004, APBP members have responded to individual letters from imprisoned women and men, and mailed over 13,000 books. Her research focuses on matters of justice and human rights in twentieth-century American literature. She edited a collection of creative and critical writings on the death penalty, Demands of the Dead: Executions, Storytelling, and Activism (Univ. of Iowa, 2012). Her essays appear in American Literature, African American Literature, Studies in the Novel, Philosophy and Literature, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, and the collection Political and Protest Theatre After 9/11: Patriotic Dissent. With Mark Brazaitis, she is co-organizer of the Educational Justice & Appalachian Prisons Symposium. She is an associate professor of English at West Virginia University.