Abolishing Private Prisons is focus of noon Clinton School program today

John_R_Dacey.jpgToday (March 25) at the Clinton School, John Dacey will discuss his work to abolish private prisons.  The program begins at noon at the Clinton School in Sturgis Hall.

In 2015, Executive Director John Dacey started a nonprofit with a name as straightforward as its goal: Abolish Private Prisons. In 2018, Dacey left his private law firm to focus on his nonprofit work full time.

Abolish Private Prisons believes that in turning over incarceration to the marketplace, government has abdicated a responsibility that belongs to government alone and creates huge financial incentives that sustain our societal addiction to mass incarceration. Taking away an individual’s liberty should never have any relationship to corporate profits.

Professor andré douglas pond cummings, UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law Professor and President of the Board of Abolish Private Prisons, will join Dacey for the program. He states: “It is not just a constitutional issue for us. It is a moral imperative.”

Dacey says, “It’s about what kind of a country we are, and what kind of a country are we going to be? Are we really going to put these perverse incentives into our criminal justice system? This is treating people as human inventory. It’s a violation of human dignity.”

All Clinton School Speaker Series events are free and open to the public. Reserve your seats by emailing publicprograms@clintonschool.uasys.edu or by calling (501) 683-5239.

This afternoon – Arkansas Cinema Society presents free sneak preview of RGB biopic ON THE BASIS OF SEX

Before she was a Supreme Court Justice (and an action figure), Ruth Bader Ginsburg made history as a crusading young attorney.  This chapter of her life is the subject of the new movie ON THE BASIS OF SEX.

This afternoon (Dec 29) at 5pm, the Arkansas Cinema Society presents a free sneak preview of the film.  Doors to the Ron Robinson Theater open at 4:30.

Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer play gender-rights crusader Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband Marty in this early-career courtroom drama. Others in the cast include Justin Theroux, Jack Reynor, Cailee Spaeny, Sam Waterston, and Kathy Bates.  The movie was directed by Mimi Leder from a screenplay by Daniel Stiepleman.

Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion. It will feature UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law Dean Theresa Beiner; Professor Beth Levi, JD, of the Bowen School; Justice Annabelle Imber Tuck, retired member of the Arkansas Supreme Court; Judge Ellen Brantley, retired Pulaski County Circuit Court judge; and attorney Tijuana Byrd, who is president of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas board.  The panel will be moderated by Alison Williams, who serves as Chief of Staff to Governor Asa Hutchinson and is a member of the Arkansas Cinema Society Board.

Little Rock Look Back: A Bowl of Chili’s Role in Civil Rights

Minnijean Brown Trickey and Dent Gitchel at the 2006 chili cook-off (Richelle Antipolo/Flickr)

On December 17, 1957, perhaps the most famous chili bowl was dropped in the Central High cafeteria.

It was, of course, not just any chili bowl.  It was dropped by Minnijean Brown as she was being harassed by white students who were trying to make it difficult for her to navigate the cafeteria.

Balancing food on a cafeteria tray and maneuvering around narrow paths around chairs and tables can be difficult in the best of circumstances. But doing it when you are being harassed for the umpteenth time that day makes it even more of a challenge.

Reports differ as to whether she dropped the tray or let it slip. In the pandemonium of the moment, it may be six of one, half-dozen the other.  But what is not disputable is that the chili fell on a junior who was sitting at a table and not taking part in the harassment. That junior was future attorney and UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law professor Dent Gitchel.

While no one had stepped in to stop the pestering, after Minnijean had dropped the chili on Dent, officials swooped in and sent both students to the principal’s office.  Dent was sent home to change clothes.  Minnijean was suspended for six days.  This incident and suspension would be fodder for her foes who pressed for her eventual expulsion in February 1958.  (The student other student involved in that incident – a white female – was only suspended and later returned for the remainder of the school year.)

Minnijean and Dent went their separate ways.  While many knew about the chili episode, the name of the student who was on the receiving end had become forgotten.  It was not until many years later that his name was once again attached to it.  In 2005, he was named in an article in an historical journal.  By that time, he was a retired law school professor.  Later that year, he gave a brief interview to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about it.

In March 2006, the Central High Museum Inc. board organized a chili cook-off as a fundraiser.  Minnijean and Dent reunited for the first time since December 1957 to serve as co-chairs and judges of the cook-off.  The other judge was Central High principal Nancy Rousseau.  There were nine chilies made by Little Rock area celebrities:  Mark Abernathy of Loca Luna and Bene Vita, “Broadway” Joe Booker of Citadel Communications, Dave Williams of Dave’s Place, Max Brantley of Arkansas Times, Michael Selig of Vermillion Water Grille, Pamela Smith of KATV, Channel 7, Sanford Tollette of the Joseph Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp, Scott McGehee of Boulevard Bread Co. and state Sen. Tracy Steele.

Eleven years ago – on the fiftieth anniversary of the incident — NPR did a story and interviewed by Minnijean and Dent.  In various interviews, Minnijean has commented that she told officials that day she knew that Dent was an innocent bystander.  In the few public statements he has made, Dent has commented that while he did not cause problems for the Nine, he also was not one of the very, very few white students who befriended them.  Today, they both focus their comments on the continued need for reconciliation as well as facing up to the issues in order to move forward.

So have a bowl of chili today. And think about how far we have come.  And how very far we still have to go.

Little Rock Look Back: The Central High Chili Incident

Minnijean Brown Trickey & Dent Gitchel at 2006 chili cook-off (Richelle Antipolo/ Flickr)

On December 17, 1957, a chili bowl was dropped in the Central High cafeteria.

It was, of course, not just any chili bowl.  It was dropped by Minnijean Brown as she was being harassed by white students who were trying to make it difficult for her to navigate the cafeteria.

Balancing food on a cafeteria tray and maneuvering around narrow paths around chairs and tables can be difficult in the best of circumstances. But doing it when you are being harassed for the umpteenth time that day makes it even more of a challenge.

Reports differ as to whether she dropped the tray or let it slip. In the pandemonium of the moment, it may be six of one, half-dozen the other.  But what is not disputable is that the chili fell on a junior who was sitting at a table and not taking part in the harassment. That junior was future attorney and UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law professor Dent Gitchel.

While no one had stepped in to stop the pestering, after Minnijean had dropped the chili on Dent, officials swooped in and sent both students to the principal’s office.  Dent was sent home to change clothes.  Minnijean was suspended for six days.  This incident and suspension would be fodder for her foes who pressed for her eventual expulsion in February 1958.  (The student other student involved in that incident – a white female – was only suspended and later returned for the remainder of the school year.)

Minnijean and Dent went their separate ways.  While many knew about the chili episode, the name of the student who was on the receiving end had become forgotten.  It was not until many years later that his name was once again attached to it.  In 2005, he was named in an article in an historical journal.  By that time, he was a retired law school professor.  Later that year, he gave a brief interview to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about it.

In March 2006, the Central High Museum Inc. board organized a chili cook-off as a fundraiser.  Minnijean and Dent reunited for the first time since December 1957 to serve as co-chairs and judges of the cook-off.  The other judge was Central High principal Nancy Rousseau.  There were nine chilies made by Little Rock area celebrities:  Mark Abernathy of Loca Luna and Bene Vita, “Broadway” Joe Booker of Citadel Communications, Dave Williams of Dave’s Place, Max Brantley of Arkansas Times, Michael Selig of Vermillion Water Grille, Pamela Smith of KATV, Channel 7, Sanford Tollette of the Joseph Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp, Scott McGehee of Boulevard Bread Co. and state Sen. Tracy Steele.

Ten years ago – on the fiftieth anniversary of the incident — NPR did a story and interviewed by Minnijean and Dent.  In various interviews, Minnijean has commented that she told officials that day she knew that Dent was an innocent bystander.  In the few public statements he has made, Dent has commented that while he did not cause problems for the Nine, he also was not one of the very,very few white students who befriended them.  Today, they both focus their comments on the continued need for reconciliation as well as facing up to the issues in order to move forward.

So have a bowl of chili today. And think about how far we have come.  And how very far we still have to go.

First Monday in October = New U.S. Supreme Court Session. See what to expect in Clinton School Video

us supreme courtToday is the First Monday in October. That means a new U.S. Supreme Court session starts.

Last week, the Clinton School for Public Service Speaker Series featured a preview of the Court’s session.  It included remarks and insight from Associate Dean Theresa Beiner and Dean Emeritus John DiPippa at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law.  The pair looked ahead to this year’s session as well as reflected on the 2014-2015 session of SCOTUS.

A video of the program is available online.  All previous Clinton School Speaker Series programs are available for viewing at the website.