UNE Center for Global Humanities presents 'Reform Nation? The Movement Against Mass Incarceration”'

A dark photo shows the silhouette of a jail cell
Colleen Eren will present “Reform Nation? The Movement Against Mass Incarceration” on Monday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m.

In December of 2018, an unusual constellation of stakeholders from inside and outside government gathered around the Oval Office desk of President Trump to pass the First Step Act. The unlikely bipartisan bill aimed at reducing the number of Americans behind bars was signed into law during a time of intractable polarization, signaling that the criminal justice reform movement had broken through Washington’s gridlock. The bill’s passage seemed to suggest that truly transformative change in the American criminal justice system just might be possible. In the five intervening years, however, crime has reemerged in the national spotlight, bringing new urgency to the work of activists.   

This is the topic scholar Colleen Eren will explore when she visits the University of New England Center for Global Humanities to present a lecture titled “Reform Nation? The Movement Against Mass Incarceration” on Monday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. at the WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion on the UNE Portland Campus for the Health Sciences.

Eren is associate professor and director of the Criminology and Criminal Justice Program at William Paterson University. A member of the Crime and Justice Research Alliance of the American Society of Criminology, her research focuses on white-collar crime, crime and media, and social movements on criminal justice issues. Her latest book, “Reform Nation: The First Step Act and the Movement Against Mass Incarceration,” will form the basis of her talk at UNE. She is also the author of “Bernie Madoff and the Crisis: The Public Trial of Capitalism” and co-author of “The Impact of Supreme Court Cases on U.S. Institutions.”

Prior to entering academia, she directed New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, which led a successful statewide campaign to end capital punishment. She currently serves as vice president of the board of New Hour for Women and Children, a nongovernmental organization which assists women reentering society after incarceration.

In her lecture, Eren will investigate the main questions surrounding the national criminal justice reform movement and the passage of the First Step Act, including how the movement emerged and why. Furthermore, she will ask how the movement speaks to certain post-democratic processes in the United States and will discuss the potential for a transformative movement for criminal justice reform “from below.”  

This will be the fifth and final event of the fall semester at the Center for Global Humanities, where lectures are always free, open to the public, and streamed live online. Learn more information and watch the event.