Behind Bars: Ethics and Human Rights in U.S. Prisons
November 30 - December 1, 2017
Harvard Medical School Campus, Boston, MA

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The United States leads the world in incarceration. The “War on Drugs” and prioritizing punishment over rehabilitation has led to mass imprisonment, mainly of the nation’s most vulnerable populations: people of color, the economically disadvantaged and undereducated, and those suffering from mental illness. Although these social disparities are striking, the health discrepancies are even more pronounced. What can be done to address this health and human rights crisis?

This conference examined various aspects of human rights and health issues in our prisons. In collaboration with educators, health professionals, and those involved in the criminal justice system—including formerly incarcerated people, advocates, and law enforcement—the conference clarified the issues, explored possible policy and educational responses, and established avenues for action.

Keynote Speaker:

Danielle Allen
Director, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University
James Bryant Conant University Professor
View Dr. Allen's keynote address.

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The Behind Bars: Ethics and Human Rights in U.S. Prisons conference was open to the public. Registration is required to attend. There is a $50 refreshment fee to offset costs for meals during the conference, and to reduce waste. If this fee would prevent you from attending, please contact the Center for Bioethics at 617-432-2570 for assistance with your registration.

The Conference was co-sponsored by the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School, the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, with support from the Oswald DeN. Cammann Fund.

Conference Planning Committee:
J. Wesley Boyd, Committee Chair
Emily Keehn
Louise King
Christine Mitchell
Carmel Shachar
Patrick Smith
Lauren Taylor
Paula Atkeson
Angela Alberti
Lisa Bastille
Cristine Hutchison-Jones
Blair Kahn


Documentary & Discussion   13th

Wednesday, November 29, 2017
6:15 p.m.
Armenise Building, D-Amphitheater

The evening before the conference, there was a screening of the film 13th followed by a panel discussion. This event was free and open to the public.


View photos from the event.