state:
Massachusetts
Local history:
The Norfolk Prison Colony Debating Society
Are prisons for punishment or rehabilitation?
Northeastern University
National Traveling Venue:
International Village
1175 Tremont Street Boston, MA 02120
March 16, 2018May 15, 2018

NJ: Seeking Asylum, Resisting Detention

Exhibit on view through December 15th.

Project for Empty Space

2 Gateway Center

Newark, NJ 07102

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Massachusetts: The Norfolk Prison Colony Debating Society
Are prisons for punishment or rehabilitation?
Northeastern University

Norfolk Prison Colony was founded as the nation's first "community prison" in 1929. It was built on the philosophy of keeping incarcerated people engaged with, rather than removed from, the world. It had dormitories, not cells, a school, a quad, an auditorium. According to the prison school’s former principal Carlo Geromini, “Once you got inside the walls, you didn’t even know you were in a prison.” In 1931, a group of "lifers" formed Norfolk Prison Debating Society. The Norfolk debaters went up against—and regularly defeated—top college and university teams. Malcolm X wrote that his time on the debate team gave him his first taste of public speaking: "I was gone on debating." Another debater, Bruce Geary (a.k.a Sayif) said, “Winning something other than a fight... felt good.” By the 1980s, the national shift to "tough on crime" policies meant most programs at Norfolk had been eliminated.

Our Point of View

Until recently there was hardly any public record of the Norfolk Prison Debating Society. Radio producer Natasha Haverty and writer Adam Bright, with support from Massachusetts Humanities, spent two years uncovering the story and interviewing former prison debaters, their college opponents, coaches, and corrections staff. As graduate students at Northeastern University in Boston, we looked at these stories to help us understand the rehabilitative approach of Norfolk and to explore why rehabilitation was largely abandoned.

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Massachusetts: The Norfolk Prison Colony Debating Society    Northeastern University
Are prisons for punishment or rehabilitation?
Massachusetts: The Norfolk Prison Colony Debating Society
Are prisons for punishment or rehabilitation?
  Northeastern University

National Exhibition Venue    International Village

Public Dialogues and Events
| March 16 – May 15, 2018

See Full Exhibition & Events Schedule
Mar 22, 2018
Brown States of Incarceration Opening

Written by a museum patron at the opening of States of Incarceration in Rhode Island on the interactive portion of the exhibit.

Brown States of Incarceration Opening

Written by a museum patron at the opening of States of Incarceration in Rhode Island on the interactive portion of the exhibit.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

MA: States of Incarceration Opening Reception

Description: 

The opening reception for States of Incarceration at Northeastern University's International Village.read more…

Time: 
6 PM to 7:30 PM
Venue: 

International Village, Northeastern University

1175 Tremont St.

Boston, MA 02120

Mar 23, 2018

Credit: Christina Itchon Courtesy of: Red Dog

Credit: Christina Itchon Courtesy of: Red Dog

Friday, March 23, 2018

MASS Incarceration: Symposium on The Past, Present, and Future of Incarceration in Massachusetts

Description: 

This symposium, organized by faculty of Northeastern University's Program in Public History and its School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, will bring together policymakers, correctional officials, scholars, students, and the general public to meet and discuss the past, present, and future of incarceration in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Speakers will explore how mass incarceration has changed over time in Massachusetts and across the country, whether or not an increase in rehabilitation programs would reduce recidivism rates, the impact of proposed sentencing reforms, and the ways that corrections, probation, and parole perform now and how they might change.

The symposium is...read more…

Time: 
8:45 AM to 4 PM
Venue: 

Cabral Center at the John D. O'Bryant African American Institute, Northeastern University

40 Leon St.

Boston, MA 02115

States of Incarceration is created by over 500 people in 17 states, and growing. We explore the roots of mass incarceration in our own communities—to open national dialogue on what should happen next. Click on a state to learn more.

States of Incarceration is created by over 500 people in 17 states, and growing. We explore the roots of mass incarceration in our own communities—to open national dialogue on what should happen next. Click on a state to learn more.

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