Campus News

Sociology presents crime and justice panel discussion

hands clasped between jail bars.

By JACKIE HAUSLER

Published February 14, 2020

“These events are a way for us to showcase the critical conversations happening in our criminology courses at UB surrounding crime, punishment and inequality.”
Kristen Schultz Lee, associate professor
Department of Sociology

Experts that include formerly incarcerated individuals and professionals working in the field of criminal justice reform will meet at UB on March 4 to take part in a panel discussion on “Crime and Justice Issues in Western New York.”

Part of the events launching the Department of Sociology’s undergraduate major in criminology, the discussion will focus on experiences with the criminal justice system, as well as past and ongoing reform initiatives. It will take place at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Theatre, North Campus.

Panelists include Cindi McEachon, executive director of Peaceprints of WNY; Rebecca Town, a staff attorney with Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo Inc.; and Jerome Wright, Western New York organizer for the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement.

“We’re excited to offer our new bachelor’s of criminology in response to growing demand from students interested in pursuing careers in the crime, law and justice professions, as well as those intending to pursue further studies in law and criminology,” says Kristen Schultz Lee, associate professor of sociology, director of undergraduate studies and co-organizer of the panel discussion with sociology student Eric Iglesias. “These events are a way for us to showcase the critical conversations happening in our criminology courses at UB surrounding crime, punishment and inequality.”

In addition to this panel, the department will host other events this semester — all are free and open to the public — to celebrate the launch of the new major:

  • Feb. 26: “Locked Out: Institutional Spillovers and the Stickiness of Public Labels,” a guest lecture by Chris Uggen, professor at the University of Minnesota, noon to 1:30 p.m., 280 Park Hall, North Campus. Life course sociology and criminology provide compelling evidence that the distinction between “criminal” and “non-criminal” is largely a matter of time. Yet crime discourse and policy remain rooted in the notion of criminality as an immutable characteristic. This talk contrasts the fluidity in criminal behavior with the growing stickiness of public labels, drawing from experimental studies of criminal records on work and school outcomes, demographic analysis of changes in the population bearing such records, and their spillover effects on politics, health care, social services and other institutions. 

  • April 24: Book talk and guest lecture, time and place to be announced. Hadar Aviram, professor at the UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, will discuss her book, “Yesterday’s Monsters: The Manson Family Cases and the Illusion of Parole,” which examines the California parole process through 50 years of parole transcripts in the Manson Family cases.