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The Wire's David Simon Headlines Free Constitution Day Symposium, Sept. 17

Panel Discussion on Inequalities and Incarceration in America Also Includes Social Innovator Susan Burton, Artist and Activist Ashley Hunt

Posted 08.08.13 by MICA Communications

David Simon (Photo by Paul Schiraldi)

BALTIMORE - Baltimore-based author, journalist and television writer/producer David Simon will headline Constitution Day, a free annual symposium co-sponsored by the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland (ACLU-MD). The panel, moderated by WYPR's The Signal producer Aaron Henkin, will also include social innovator Susan Burton, who has dedicated her life to helping formerly incarcerated women re-enter into society, and artist and activist Ashley Hunt, who uses video, photography, mapping and writing to engage social movements and investigate the prison system. The event, titled Bars and Stripes Forever: Inequalities and Incarceration in America, will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 17 from 7-9 p.m. in Brown Center's Falvey Hall, 1301 W. Mount Royal Ave.

This year's symposium centers on the widely debated topic of inequalities and incarceration in America. While the United States makes up approximately 5 percent of the world's population, it constitutes 25 percent of the world's prison population, largely due to "tough on crime" policies. The United States now spends more money on prisons than it does on schools.

"We are tackling an essential topic, one that is largely ignored, but is a real crisis for many communities in this country," said Constitution Day organizer and MICA Humanistic Studies faculty member Firmin DeBrabander.

"Since 1971, the number of human beings incarcerated in lockdown institutions in Maryland has ballooned from 4,950 to 22,500. Shockingly, 45 percent of current inmates are there for nonviolent offenses," said Susan Goering, executive director of ACLU-MD. "That is why the ACLU is thrilled that the focus for this year's Constitution Day event with MICA is how wrong-headed and wasteful over-incarceration policies have for too long decimated communities struggling with poverty, especially communities of color."

Art has long been a method of expression, and artists throughout history have been instigators of change-engaging society in conversation about pressing issues. Established in 2005, Constitution Day continues the College's tradition of leadership in raising and exploring important political issues.

In addition to free tickets distributed in advance to the MICA community, a limited number of free tickets will be available to the general public on the day of the event.

About the Constitution Day participants:

David Simon: Baltimore-based author, journalist and television writer/producer David Simon worked for the Baltimore Sun for 12 years before writing Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and co-writing The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood with Ed Burns. The books became the basis for the NBC series Homicide: Life on the Street and the HBO mini-series The Corner, respectively. Simon is the creator, writer and executive producer of The Wire, Generation Kill and Treme, also created for HBO. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010 and an Utne Reader Visionary in 2011.

Ashley Hunt: Artist and activist Ashley Hunt uses video, photography, mapping and writing to engage social movements and investigate the prison system. Rather than viewing art and activism as two exclusive spheres of practice, he approaches them as complementary. Hunts' The Corrections Documentary Project centers around the contemporary growth of prisons and their foundational role in today's economic restructuring and the politics of race.

Susan Burton: After spending almost 20 years in and out of the criminal justice system, Susan Burton has dedicated her life to helping other women break the cycle of incarceration, homelessness, addiction and despair. Burton founded A New Way of Life Reentry Project in 1998, and is the co-founder of All of Us or None and co-founder & national chair of the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People's Movement, both national grassroots civil rights movements made up of formerly incarcerated individuals, their families and community allies. Her numerous awards and achievements include being named a CNN Top Ten Hero in 2010 and receiving the 2012 Encore Purpose Prize.

Aaron Henkin: Moderator Aaron Henkin is co-creator and producer of WYPR's radio arts program, The Signal, and host of Stories from the Stoop. His news reports and features have aired nationally on programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Day to Day and PRI's The World. Henkin is also the curator and host of a weekly podcast called The NPR Station Showcase with PRX, during which he highlights outstanding stories from fellow producers at public radio stations around the country.

Image caption: David Simon (Photo by Paul Schiraldi).

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.