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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Professor Resnik and Dwayne Betts ’16 to Present on Prisons at Conference of Law Schools

The Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law’s Judith Resnik and Dwayne Betts ’16 will present at the 2021 annual meeting of the American Association of Law Schools in a panel that combines imagery, music, documents, and data to convey the experience of prisoners.

The panel, “Encountering the State’s Punitive Powers: Seeing, Building, Reading, and Understanding the Impact of the Carceral State,” will take place online on Friday, Jan. 8 at 2:45 p.m. Eastern. It will explore how people outside of prisons can understand something about the enormity of the impact of being confined in a prison. Registration is required.

Resnik, the Arthur Liman Professor of Law and the Liman Center’s Founding Director, will provide an introduction that underscores the role of individual and collectives of prisoners who, in the 1960s, insisted on their right to legal protection and succeeded in overturning centuries of law that disowned their personhood.

Betts, a Liman Senior Research Scholar and Yale Law School Ph.D. candidate, will give a talk entitled “Getting People Out, Getting Books In.” The talk will explore the impact of law, people’s narratives, and literature in prisons. Betts will draw from the exhibition Redactions, his 2019 collaboration with visual artist and filmmaker Titus Kaphar at MoMA PS1. Betts, an acclaimed poet and memoirist, is the Director of the Million Book Project, an initiative of Yale Law School’s Justice Collaboratory to radically transform access to literature in prisons.

Resnik and Betts will be joined on the panel by Andrea Armstrong, Professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. Her discussion, “Retaking the Carceral Space,” will draw on images of abandoned prison facilities in Louisiana as tools from which to learn about what prisons did then and what the spaces could be made to do now. Sharon Dolovich, Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law and Director of the UCLA Prison Law & Policy Program, will present comments, “Uncovering COVID: Empirical Research and Law Schools’ Contributions to Materializing the Prison,” outlining a website that maps the harms of COVID-19 in prisons, responses by officials, and legal efforts to mitigate the risks.

The AALS’s annual meeting is the largest gathering of law faculty in the world. More than 2,500 law teachers, librarians, and law school administrators from member schools, non-member schools, and law schools of other nations attend.