This year, SPEAR is excited to be hosting our third annual conference from April 15-17 at Princeton University! 


This year, our conference is focused around the theme of identity, and how certain identities become criminalized. Specifically, we’ll be examining how marginalized populations -- including racial minorities, undocumented immigrants, and the LGBTQ community -- are persecuted by our penal system on the basis of those identities. We are collaborating with various student groups at Princeton to bring a diverse array of speakers and panelists to campus, creating a space at Princeton for students and community members to share in our vision for a more humane criminal justice policy.

Friday, April 15

6:00 - Opening Address, Shaun King

7:15 - Dinner, Campus Club

8:30 - Tales from the Cell, McCosh 50

Poster for SPEAR's special preview showing of Tales from the Cell


Saturday, April 16

All panels and workshops will be held in Whig Hall.

9:30-10:45 Panel I - Immigration 

11:00-12:00 Workshops I - Dominique Fenton, Kevin Kempf, the Black Justice League, and Haneef Shakur

12:15-1:30 Lunch

1:45-3:00 Panel II - Gender and Sexual Identity 

3:15-4:15 Workshops II - Victoria Law, Eddy Zheng, Release Aging People in Prison, and the Petey Greene Program

4:30-5:45 Panel III - Anti-Black Policing and Carceral Practices 

6:00-7:00 Closing Address, Marie Gottschalk

7:30-900 Student banquet

Sunday, April 17: Day of student activism

10:00-11:15 Presentations from student researchers at University of Chicago and Princeton & Breakfast Reception 

11:15 National Lawyers’ Guild Know Your RIghts workshop for activists and protesters

12:30-1:30 Lunch

1:30-2:30 Princeton Prison Divestment Teach-in


Speakers for this year’s conference include:

Shaun King, senior justice columnist for the New York Daily News

Shaun King is one of many voices—though an increasingly prominent voice—within the Black Lives Matter movement. He has written extensively about the Black Lives Matter movement, covering discrimination, police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and social justice in the wake of violence in New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, Ferguson, Missouri, Charleston, South Carolina, and other cities. He is Senior Justice Writer at the New York Daily News, and was Justice Writer for Daily Kos.

Marie Gottschalk, political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania

Professor Marie Gottschalk specializes in American politics, with a focus on criminal justice, health policy, race, the development of the welfare state, and business-labor relations. She is the author of Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American PoliticsThe Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America, which won the 2007 Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians; and The Shadow Welfare State: Labor, Business, and the Politics of Health Care in the United States.

Dominique Fenton, Youth and Family Court Judge in Oglala Sioux Tribal Court

Dominique A. Fenton serves as the Youth and Family Court Judge in Oglala Sioux Tribal Court. He oversees all legal proceedings involving minors on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota Nation and some 40,000 people.

Immigration Panel

Eddy Zheng, activist

Eddy Zheng (鄭小飛) is a Chinese immigrant who spent 21 years of his life in prison for crimes he committed at the age of 16. Since his return to the free world, Eddy has dedicated his life to serving the youth and communities of the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Aviva Stahl, journalist

Aviva Stahl is a Brooklyn-based independent journalist who writes about prisons, national security and immigration detention. You can follow her @stahlidarity.

Noel Micho, activist with Families for Freedom

Noel Micho is a member of Families for Freedom, a New York-based multi-ethnic human rights organization by and for families facing and fighting deportation. After 18 years of living in the States since immigrating Kenya, he was incarcerated by ICE twice – in 2008 and 2014 – spending more than 3 years in immigration detention. Now, he works with Families for Freedom and other advocacy groups, including New Jersey's First Friends, to fight against the criminal and immigration systems of oppression.

Gender and Sexual Identity Panel

Dorian Needham, Staff Attorney at Immigration Equality

As the co-manager of Immigration Equality’s Pro Bono Program, Dorian Needham works to expand and enhance our asylum project for LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants. He also directly represents clients in immigration proceedings at all levels.

Jamila Hammami, Executive Director of the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project

Jamila Hammami is a queer first­ generation Tunisian­ Arab American woman of color community organizer & social worker from the south, now based in NYC. She is a founder and Executive Director of the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (QDEP). She is also a leader of the NYC chapter of Black & Pink, an organization run and led by those that are currently or are previously incarcerated and free world allies

Jorge Gonzales, member of Black & Pink and and volunteer at the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project

Jorge Gonzales is a queer first generation Chicano Iraq anti-war combat veteran with years of working in the anti-war movement after his military service. Post his carceral experience and anti-war work, he moved to NYC to pursue higher education. He is currently a member of Black & Pink and volunteer at QDEP in New York City.

Anti-Black Policing and Carceral Practices Panel

Michael Wood, former Baltimore police officer

Michael A. Wood, Jr. is a retired Baltimore police officer and veteran of the USMC. He recently made the news for publicly speaking out against police brutality and has become a proponent of a new era of policing.

Phillipe Copeland, Director, Dual Degree Program in Social Work and Theology and Clinical Assistant Professor at the Boston University School of Social Work

Dr. Phillipe Copeland is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Boston University School of Social Work. His scholarship, teaching and practice focus on the abolition of white supremacy and helping survivors recover from its consequences, with an emphasis on the criminal legal system. 

Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Research Analyst at the Sentencing Project

Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D., is a research analyst at The Sentencing Project who conducts and synthesizes research on criminal justice policies. She analyzes racial disparities in the justice system, public opinion about punishment, and the scope of reform efforts.

Workshops I

Kevin Kempf, Director of the Idaho Department of Correction

As director, Kevin Kempf oversees the entirety of IDOC’s operations including its nine prisons, four community re-entry centers and seven probation and parole districts. Under Kempf’s leadership, the Department of Correction is experiencing reform in almost every area. Projects like Justice Reinvestment, Justice Program Assessment and Restrictive Housing Reform will have many positive effects on the system and elevate IDOC as one of the best corrections agencies in the country.

The Black Justice League

The Black Justice League (BJL) is a coalition of students from Princeton University, standing in solidarity with Ferguson and dismantling racism on our campus. They recently made national news for staging a sit-in at Princeton's Nassau Hall, calling upon the University to make campus a more welcoming space for minority students.

Haneef Shakur, youth organizer with the Florida NAACP

Haneef Shakur is the founder and advisor of his local branch of the NAACP Youth Council. He was incarcerated in 1998 at the age of 16 and tried as an adult, and later convicted and sentenced to 25 years. At age 19, he converted to Islam while incarcerated. Now, in addition to his work with the NAACP, he acts as a youth mentor.

Speaker Dominique Fenton will also be running a workshop.

Workshops II

Victoria Law, freelance writer and editor

Victoria Law is a freelance journalist who writes about the intersections of incarceration, gender and resistance. She has written for Al Jazeera AmericaBitch MagazineThe GuardianThe Nation, and Truthout. She is also the author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women. 

Tony Allen Simon, outreach coordinator for Release Aging People in Prison

Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) is an organization that is building a grassroots movement to accelerate the release rate of elders from the prison system through fair, evidence-based parole practice and expanded use of executive clemency and compassionate release. Tony Allen Simon, who works as the outreach coordinator for RAPP, served 30 years in prison and was released in 2013. He has over 70 certificates, including one in Adult Peer Counseling from the State University of New York Department of Education and one from the New York State Alternative to Violence Project Inc.

The Petey Greene Program

The Petey Greene Program supplements correctional education systems by providing individualized tutoring for incarcerated people. They work to support academic achievement in prison classrooms in order to reduce recidivism rates and build stronger communities.

Panelist Eddy Zheng will also be running a workshop.


Registration is now open for this spring's conference, using these links:

Here for current Princeton students

Here for non-Princeton students

Here for community members