2016 Zoukis Summer Institute Explores Juvenile and Criminal Justice Reform

Posted On August 17, 2016
Categories News

Centering on the theme of Juvenile and Criminal Justice Reform, the second annual Zoukis Summer Institute held May 31 to June 2 enabled 20 undergraduates to learn more about political science and diverse aspects of criminal justice reform. Held in the CURVE facility in Library South, the event was hosted by the Department of Political Science at Georgia State University.

“The 2016 Zoukis Summer Institute was designed for rising college juniors and seniors interested in a deep dive into issues at the intersection of politics and justice,” said Dr. Toby Bolsen, associate professor in the GSU Department of Political Science and director of the Zoukis Research Collaborative.

Richard Ross keynoted the event and described the “Juvenile in Justice” solitary confinement chamber he designed that participants were able to experience firsthand. Some already had been inside the chamber in the Georgia State Arts and Humanities lobby. Students in Dr. Bolsen’s spring POLS 4900 Social Justice and Politics class built the chamber.

Ross was joined by Denny Chow, founder of Change Matters, and Dr. Robert G. Morris II, incoming associate professor in GSU’s Department of Criminal Justice. They participated in a panel on justice reform and drug courts in Georgia moderated by Dr. Eric Sevigny, professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology.

Dr. Morris is the recipient of the 2016 Zoukis Research Collaborative Best Paper Award and until recently has been the director of the Center for Crime and Justice Studies. His paper addresses the effects of short-term solitary confinement.

Student Research

“Each day student participants gained valuable experience analyzing data gathered via primary research and existing data. At the end of the event we made a group presentation on the findings,” said Bailey Fairbanks, a Political Science Ph.D. graduate student who helped organize and attended the institute.

The existing data was compiled in spring 2016 using the solitary confinement installation. Dr. Bolsen and his POLS 4900 Social Justice and Politics students designed and collected experimental survey data on student attitudes towards confinement.

Panels and Speakers

“Participants who share a passion for political science and criminal justice reform gained a significantly deeper understanding of the topics ranging from solitary confinement to juvenile justice to mandatory minimum sentencing,” Dr. Bolsen said.

Eminent speakers and panelists shared meaningful experiences. Speakers included Judge Wendy Shoob of Fulton County; Sarah Gereghty from the Southern Center for Human Rights; Sandra Barnhill from the Forever Family non-profit agency that works to diminish the impact of parental incarceration; and Monica Khant, executive director of the Georgia Asylum & Immigration Network. Dr. Amy Steigerwalt of the GSU’s Political Science Department moderated.

Other panels highlighted various aspects of the U.S. criminal justice system. Speakers talked about their personal interactions within the criminal justice system in Georgia including: Judge Steve Teske, chief judge of the Juvenile Court of Clayton County, and Doneen Mills, Ph.D. student in Political Science and an advocate for criminal justice reform.

A panel moderated by Dr. Lakeyta Bonnette from Political Science focused on law enforcement, the Black Lives Matter movement, and race. Panelists included Jodie Fleischer, an investigative reporter at WSB-TV; Brad Schrade of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Dr. Gbemende Johnson, a GSU alum currently at Hamilton College; Dr. Henry Frank Carey of the GSU Department of Political Science; and Teddy Reese from the Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.

Other participants included Dr. Sarah Gershon, director of Graduate Studies for Political Science; and Dr. Carrie Manning, chair of Political Science; as well as key department graduate students.

For more information on the Zoukis Institute, please visit the Department of Political Science Zoukis Research Collaborative page or the Zoukis Collab Facebook page.