I began to have a sense of feeling free. Students examine race, place, & juvenile justice

I began to have a sense of feeling free even though I was in prison, and it was because of my education.

- Salem El-Amin

El-Amin, who became literate and earned a GED and college degree in prison, told students he spent 42 years, 3 months and 3 days in jail.

Honors students gathered with experts to examine the juvenile justice system in Prince George's County, the state of Maryland, and the United States.

While crime rates among American youths are not significantly higher than anywhere else, the U.S. incarcerates the highest proportion of children and adolescents in the world. Students explored how the U.S. can make juvenile justice more cost-effective and more humane.

Dr. Richard Bell, honors professor, moderated the event. Students from his honors seminar, "Incarceration Nation: Behind Bars in Early America," study the justice system and engage with area experts every semester.

Laura Miller, shares how UMD student organization, The Voice, empowers incarcerated youth in Laurel, Md. to write poetry.

County Circuit Judge Leo Green Jr. and The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth's Rebecca Turner also provided expertise on sentencing laws and criminal justice reform.

Honors Professor Peter Leone discusses the overrepresentation of individuals with significant mental health problems in juvenile correction facilities in seminar, "From Willowbrook to Attica: Delinquency in the Context of Disability."

UMD Professor Joseph Richardson, who teaches a course on the prison industrial complex, recounted his own experience with the juvenile justice system as a teenager.

The Honors College provides a variety of course enrichments for students throughout the year.


Gillian Casey (photos)

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