New School urban policy professor Jeff Smith will read from his new book, Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America's Prison Crisis. This event is co-sponsored by the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy the Center for New York City Affairs, and Humanities Action Lab.
Following a brief reading from the book, author Touré will moderate a discussion about criminal justice reform with Professor Jeff Smith, Soffiyah Elijah (Executive Director of Correctional Association of New York), Dr. Carla Shedd (Columbia University sociologist), and Melissa Mark Viverito (New York City Council Speaker).
A detailed description of the book is below:
The fall from politico to prisoner isn't necessarily long, Smith-a former Missouri State Senator-learned, but the landing is a hard one.
In 2009, Smith pleaded guilty to charges related to seemingly minor campaign malfeasance and earned himself a year and a day in Kentucky's FCI Manchester. Mr. Smith Goes to Prison is the story of his time in the big house-of the people he met there and the things he learned: how to escape the attentions of fellow prisoner Big C and his pals in the Aryan Brotherhood; what constitutes a prison car and who's allowed to ride in yours; how to bend and break the rules, whether you're a prisoner or correctional officer. And throughout his sentence, the young Senator tracked the greatest crime of all: the deliberate waste of untapped human potential.
Smith saw the power of millions of inmates harnessed as a source of renewable energy for America's prison-industrial complex, a system that exploits racial tension and bias, building better criminals instead of better citizens. In Mr. Smith Goes to Prison, he traces the cracks in America's prison walls, exposing the shortcomings of a race-based cycle of poverty and crime that sets inmates up to fail. Now an urban policy professor, Smith's blend of academic training, real-world political acumen, and insights from a sometimes harrowing year on the inside help him offer practical solutions to jailbreak the nation from the crushing grip of its own prisons, and to jumpstart the rehabilitation of the millions behind bars.
Location: Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall
Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Executive Director of Correctional Association of New York
Provost, The New School.
Jeff Smith is Assistant Professor of Politics and Advocacy at Milano, The New School for Management and Urban Policy in New York City. Jeff majored in Black Studies and Political Science at UNC-Chapel Hill and earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis. Jeff, who has taught political science at Washington University and Dartmouth College, teaches and conducts research on campaigns and elections, public policy, race, urban politics, advocacy, and the legislative process. At Washington University, he received the Dean's Award for Teaching Excellence.
Jeff served in the Missouri Senate from 2006-2009 as the nation’s only white state senator from a majority-black district. Since then, he has consulted on affordable housing policy and completed a memoir about his experience in politics. Jeff contributes to The Recovering Politician, a new blog for former elected officials. His writing has been featured in Inc. and New York magazines, and he has been profiled in Harper’s, The New Republic, and other periodicals.
In 2004, Jeff ran for the congressional seat vacated by Dick Gephardt, losing narrowly to Rep. Russ Carnahan. His youth-powered grass-roots campaign was chronicled in the film Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?, which was lauded by the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune, and short-listed for an Academy Award.
Jeff co-founded the Confluence Academies, a group of inner-city charter schools. Jeff became the Senate’s leading voice on education reform, passing major education bills including a program offering loan forgiveness for top collegians who teach in disadvantaged areas after graduation.
In 2006, Jeff was named a rising star by St. Louis Magazine, Alive Magazine, and the Riverfront Times.
Writer, music journalist, cultural critic, and television personality. He was a co-host of the TV show The Cycle on MSNBC.
Melissa Mark Viverito
New York City Council Speaker
Mary R. Watson
Executive Dean of the Schools for Public Engagement at The New School.