Opening Tuesday, February 2nd, from 6PM - 7PM
“As this beautifully written, stunning, and deeply painful reckoning with our nation’s carceral system makes clear, we have not remotely yet grasped what drives it, nor how devastating is its reach. As Miller shows so powerfully, the damage done by this system has been so insidious, and so comprehensive, that certain Americans are always, in effect, doing time and, thus, to undo this crisis, and for most incarcerated Americans to truly ever be able to come “home,” will mean doing a whole lot more work than we have yet done.”—Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy
Reuben Jonathan Miller will discuss Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration. He will be joined in conversation by Matthew Desmond.
Presented in partnership with the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, the University of Chicago Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at The University of Chicago (CSRPC), and the University of Chicago Pozen Family Center for Human Rights.
About the book: Each year, more than half a million Americans are released from prison and join a population of twenty million people who live with a felony record. Reuben Miller, a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago and is now a sociologist studying mass incarceration, spent years alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners, their friends, and their families to understand the lifelong burden that even a single arrest can entail. What his work revealed is a simple, if overlooked truth: life after incarceration is its own form of prison. The idea that one can serve their debt and return to life as a full-fledge member of society is one of America’s most nefarious myths. Recently released individuals are faced with jobs that are off-limits, apartments that cannot be occupied and votes that cannot be cast.
As The Color of Law exposed about our understanding of housing segregation, Halfway Home shows that the American justice system was not created to rehabilitate. Parole is structured to keep classes of Americans impoverished, unstable, and disenfranchised long after they’ve paid their debt to society. Informed by Miller’s experience as the son and brother of incarcerated men, this book captures the stories of the men, women, and communities fighting against a system that is designed for them to fail. It is a poignant and eye-opening call to arms that reveals how laws, rules, and regulations extract a tangible cost not only from those working to rebuild their lives, but also our democracy. As Miller searchingly explores, America must acknowledge and value the lives of its formerly imprisoned citizens.
About the author: Reuben Jonathan Miller is a sociologist, criminologist and a social worker who teaches at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration where he studies and writes about race, democracy, and the social life of the city. He has been a member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton New Jersey, a fellow at the New America Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and a visiting scholar at the University of Texas at Austin and Dartmouth College. A native son of Chicago, he lives with his wife and children on the city’s Southside.
About the interlocutor: Matthew Desmond is the is the Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. After receiving his Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he joined the Harvard Society of Fellows as a Junior Fellow. He is the author of four books, including Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016), which won the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Carnegie Medal, and PEN / John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction. The principal investigator of The Eviction Lab, Desmond’s research focuses on poverty in America, city life, housing insecurity, public policy, racial inequality, and ethnography. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, and the William Julius Wilson Early Career Award. A Contributing Writer for the New York Times Magazine, Desmond was listed in 2016 among the Politico 50, as one of “fifty people across the country who are most influencing the national political debate.”