Watch/Listen Now: "Compassionate Era: Bahá’í Teachings on the Animal Kingdom" recorded April 16th

Derik Smith, 'Supplanting the Prison Industrial Complex'

Aug 30, 2020
Supplanting the PIC flyer

Sunday, August 30
2:00 pm Eastern Time (11 am Pacific)

Watch on YouTube

For a half-century now, the US has undertaken an historically unprecedented experiment with human incarceration. Our society has organized itself around a system of punishment that now locks away millions of people. As most know, the members of the human family that we imprison usually come from the least resourced communities, and from Black and Hispanic communities. This panel discussion will consider contemporary incarceration practices in the US, and how these practices might be supplanted by those who believe in the oneness of humanity, and the need to establish just relationships between all people.

See also Dr. Smith’s May 2018 talk Racial Justice: Mass Incarceration in America ( and his June 2020 WI webinar “Centering the Pupil of the Eye.”

Recommended Books and Resources from Panelists

Prison Race, by Dr. Renford Reese
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
Makes me Wanna Holler, by Nathan McCall
Before the Mayflower, by Lerone Bennett Jr.
Wacquant, Loic. Punishing the Poor
Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

The Abolitionist Toolkit:

“We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.” –Shoghi Effendi
See also:

Recommended Books and Resources from Attendees

Becoming Ms. Burton, by Susan Burton
The Will to Change, by bell hooks
Blood In My Eye, by George Jackson
Howard Zehr: Changing Lenses: Restorative Justice for Our Times

Miscellaneous Resources
Documentary Film: 13th (Ava Duvernay)
Every work by Bryan Stevenson (Book, TedTalk, everything)
PBS – College Behind Bars, a four-part documentary film series directed by filmmaker Lynn Novic



Derik Jalal Smith, PhD

Derik Smith is a professor in the Department of Literature at Claremont McKenna College; he is currently chair of the Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies at the Claremont Colleges. His work is anchored in the analysis of American culture and, particularly, African American literary culture. He is the author of many articles, and the book, Robert Hayden In Verse: New Histories of African American Poetry and the Black Arts Era. He and his family live in Southern California.


Angel M. Solis

Angel M. Solis is currently an undergraduate student at Columbia University and works at a program that focuses on at-risk youth at Bronx Family Court. Mr. Solis was born and raised in The Bronx and has spent ten years in state prison.


Tyee Griffith

Tyee Griffith is the Manager for Justice Education at the Claremont Colleges. She is a doctoral student in the Political Science and Government department at Claremont Graduate University, and adjunct faculty at Pitzer College in the Political Studies department. She earned a Masters Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Social Policy from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Law and Society from California State University, Los Angeles. Tyee has worked in the justice system for over 20 years and has over 15 years of experience in higher education.  She has taught in 7 California prisons, 2 juvenile facilities, and 4 international prisons. Her work focuses on the criminalization of Black people in the U.S., recidivism and reentry services for formerly incarcerated individuals, and the use of education as a tool for rehabilitation and community empowerment. Her goal is to develop programs and legislation that dismantle the prison industrial complex while expanding educational opportunities to underserved and underrepresented communities.


Minkah Harmer

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