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Prisons and Poetics: Reginald Dwayne Betts and Craig Haney

January 26, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm  |  Virtual Event


The Institute of the Arts and Sciences and The Humanities Institute are pleased to present a poetry reading and conversation with award-winning American poet Reginald Dwayne Betts and renowned social psychologist Craig Haney, moderated by Professor Gina Dent. The event is part of the IAS Visualizing Abolition Series and The Humanities Institute’s yearlong series on Memory.


Visualizing Abolition is a series of online events organized in collaboration with Professor Gina Dent and featuring artists, activists, and scholars united by their commitment to the vital struggle for prison abolition. Originally, Visualizing Abolition was being planned as an in-person symposium. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the panels, artist talks, film screenings, and other events will instead take place online. The events accompany Barring Freedom, an exhibition of contemporary art on view at San José Museum of Art October 30, 2020-March 21, 2021. To accompany the exhibition, Solitary Garden, a public art project about mass incarceration and solitary confinement is on view at UC Santa Cruz. Barring Freedom travels to NYC John Jay College of Criminal Justice April 28-July 15, 2021.

Reginald Dwayne Betts is an American poet, memoirist, and teacher. His work in public defense, his years of advocacy, and Betts’s own experiences as a teenager in maximum security prisons uniquely positions him to speak to the failures of the current criminal justice system and present encouraging ideas for change. Betts often gives talks about his own experience, detailing his journey from incarceration to Yale Law School and the role that perseverance and literature played in his success. In addition, he has given lectures on topics ranging from mass incarceration to contemporary poetry and the intersection of literature and advocacy.

Craig Haney is a social psychologist and a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, noted for his work on the study of capital punishment and the psychological impact of imprisonment and prison isolation. Haney has published five books, numerous research articles, entries in law reviews, and articles for the Huffington Post about the psychological impacts of incarceration, advocating for prison reform. He has served as an expert witness in several influential United States Federal Court cases related to the prison environment and punishment. Moreover, Haney’s work was influential in the United States Supreme Court 5-4 ruling of Brown v. Plata (2011), which upheld a lower court ruling that the California prison population be reduced.

This event is part of The Humanities Institute’s yearlong series on Memory.

Visualizing Abolition is organized by UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences in collaboration with San José Museum of Art and Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery. The series has been generously funded by the Nion McEvoy Family Trust, Ford Foundation, Future Justice Fund, Wanda Kownacki, Peter Coha, James L. Gunderson, Rowland and Pat Rebele, Porter College, UCSC Foundation, and annual donors to the Institute of the Arts and Sciences.

Partners include: Howard University School of Law, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, Jessica Silverman Gallery, Indexical, The Humanities Institute, University Library, University Relations, Institute for Social Transformation, Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery, Porter College, the Center for Cultural Studies, the Center for Creative Ecologies, and Media and Society, Kresge College.


January 26, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm