Social justice and prisons

Zachary Araki, A&E Editor

This year, the annual Social Justice Lecture Series focuses on incarceration and advocacy by bringing Sociologist Jordan Mazurek to campus.

Mazurek will speak on Nov. 1 at 11 a.m. in the Pottle Music Building Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Marc Settembrino, chair of the Social Justice Lecture Series, discussed the choice of Mazurek as the speaker this year.

“Criminal justice reform and environmental protection are important issues in Louisiana right now,” said Settembrino. “The department of sociology is home to several student clubs like Reconnect and Justice4All that are already doing work in these areas. Jordan’s research and activism blend criminal justice reform, environmental justice and human rights. Overall, I think there’s something for everyone this year.”

For the lecture, Mazurek will speak about the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons that aims “to conduct grassroots organizing, advocacy and direct action to challenge the prison system, which is putting prisoners at risk of dangerous environmental conditions as well as impacting surrounding communities and ecosystems by their construction and operation” according to Settembrino. Mazurek is the co-founder and organizer of the campaign in collaboration with the Abolitionist Law Center.

“FTP is inspired by the abolitionist movement against mass incarceration and the environmental justice movement, which have both been led by the communities of color who are hardest hit by prisons and pollution,” said Settembrino.




A workshop will follow the lecture at 2 p.m. in Fayard Hall Room 205.

“Jordan is calling the workshop ‘How to Fight, How to Win: Campaign Planning for Modern Troublemakers,'” said Settembrino. “He plans to spend time talking to students about organizing tactics and to spend time discussing the successful strategies the campaign has used.”

The Social Justice Lecture Series has covered topics such as racism, war and human rights since its inception in 2004.

Settembrino said, “The Sociology and Criminal Justice Department organizes the annual Social Justice Speaker Series as a means of bringing nationally and internationally recognized social justice activists to the Southeastern community. Our goal is to engage students and the community on how to develop a society that treats all people with dignity and respect.”

Settembrino explained how the event offers an opportunity for students to learn how to make a positive change in society.

“I meet a lot of students who want to make a positive change in their community but don’t know how,” said Settembrino. “Jordan’s lecture and workshop will be a great opportunity for our students to learn how to do social justice work. I think our students will be able to relate to Jordan and the work he’s doing. I’d like for our students to leave our events knowing that they can be a positive change in their communities, and I’m confident Jordan will give them a few tactics they can use.”