Parsons

Research and Projects

  • Project,Story

    Dismantle the Prison-Industrial Complex

    Students across our university lead a national network of scholars dedicated to incarceration reform.

    Close your eyes. Feel the tectonic plates of America’s consciousness shifting. The prison-industrial complex is on shaky ground. Students from Parsons School of Design, Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School for Social Research, and many of our renowned New School graduate programs have come together to address this critical issue. Even President Obama feels the tremors. He acknowledges that our incarceration system remains skewed by race and wealth, causing Americans to make up 25 percent of the world’s prisoners while representing only 5 percent of the global population. African-American males are disproportionately detained compared with their white counterparts — at a rate of six to one — a shocking statistic that reflects the inequities of our society. All signs point to the need for the Humanities Action Lab (HAL) — a network of scholars, art institutions, public spaces, issue organizations, and more than 20 universities, led by The New School, that critically investigate incarceration in the United States. The forward-thinking minds of HAL know that a dysfunctional prison system is a sign of a troubled society — one that requires seismic change.

    The organization’s director, Liz Sevcenko, seeks to deepen public awareness around long-standing humanitarian issues like prison reform. This goal has led to HAL’s developing a traveling exhibition, digital platform, oral histories, face-to-face community dialogues, and interactive media meant to explore the myriad dimensions of the prison-industrial complex at the local, national, and global levels. Our interdisciplinary approach to research allows participants to collaborate and exchange resources in groundbreaking ways that extend beyond their individual institutions and unearth a range of issues central to prison reform, including juvenile detention, reentry support, nonviolent drug convictions, race and class inequity, childbirth behind bars, and prison design practices. In 2016, the findings of the Humanities Action Lab will culminate in a nationally traveling multimedia exhibition designed to inspire discourse around prison reform and lay the bedrock for the future of American corrections.

    With our finger on the pulse of progress, The New School is a force of human-inspired reform, collaborative design, and global impact. Be a Force of New.  

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