This Wednesday, June 25th at the Salt Lake City Library, I will discuss Ending the Prison State in Utah with Kirsten Tynan, director of the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA). I’m quite excited about this. I’ve admired FIJA’s work for a long time. Their work educating people across the political spectrum about jury rights and jury nullification helps create a more informed public and can help prevent unjust imprisonment. In my op-ed Prison Abolition Is Practical, I mentioned jury nullification as one tactic for restraining the prison state that plagues our society today:
Resist the prison growth industry. Organize against construction of any new prisons, jails, and detention centers. Divest from banks that profit off prisons, such as Wells Fargo, and urge others to do the same. Expose prison profiteers like Jane Marquardt and undermine their political influence. Film cops, finance legal defenses, and promote jury nullification, so fewer people are sent to prison.
This Wednesday, I’ll discuss where I see jury nullification fitting in as a tactic for challenging criminalization and mass incarceration. I’ll also point out why overcriminalization, police militarization, and other relatively recent trends make jury nullification a moral imperative in many cases.
Some Utah specific criminal justice issues will be discussed, particularly the impending prison move and expansion. This prison expansion illustrates both the dangerous expansionist character of the prison state and the perverse role of politically connected business interests in shaping the criminal punishment system. Other factors that contribute to the prison growth, such as the institutional structure of the federal government and political responses to moral panics will be discussed.
If you can’t make it, you can look forward to video, which we will be linking here at C4SS. You can learn more about upcoming FIJA events here.