This upcoming weekend, April 10th-12th, SPEAR will hosts its second annual conference. 

The first two days of the conference, April 10th and 11th, will offer opportunities for attendants to learn and engage in dialogues focused on criminal justice reform and prison education in the United States. 

On the third day, April 12th, SPEAR will host a private student-only summit  aimed at planning the national launch of the campaign to remove all questions related to past involvement with the justice system from university admissions applications. 

Some highlights of the conference will include a screening of Dead Man Walking, the 1995 film staring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, followed by a talk by Sister Helen Prejean, author of the book that served as the basis for the film; and a talk by Rabia Chaudry, a lawyer and activist in the Muslim community, who will speak about issues within the criminal justice system. Ms. Chaudry recently gained widespread attention for her role in the creation of the 2014 podcast series Serialwhich examines circumstances surrounding a life sentence handed down to 17-year-old Adnan Syed despite a lack of viable evidence. 

The conference will also feature a variety of additional panels and workshops. The panels will allow experts to share their experiences with and/or research on the status quo of the criminal justice system as well as possible routes towards reform. The workshops will allow participants and assembled experts to meaningfully engage in discussions about the system and share tactics for fostering change a local, state and national level.

If you would like to register for the conference, please visit:  Note that registration does not bind you to attend all sessions, but is simply to get a sense of  how many Princeton students we should expect at the conference for room scheduling purposes. Also, there will be a catered banquet for student participants on Saturday, April 11 at 7:00pm. Please RSVP to reserve your spot if you are free.

If you have any questions regarding the event or SPEAR, do not hesitate to contact us at

 Tentative Schedule


3:00-5:00: Screening of “Dead Man Walking"

5:30-7:00: Talk and Audience Discussion with Sister Helen Prejean



 9:00-10:30: Panel: Reversing the School to Prison Pipeline

10:30-12:00: Workshops on:

Post-Release College Programs

High School Equivalency Programs Inside Prisons

Inside-Outside Classes

12:00-1:30: Panel: Fostering Reform Through Journalism

1:30-3:00: Workshops on: 

Stigma of Mental Health in the Black Community

Solitary Confinement as Mass Torture

Racial Protest in the Digital Age

The Language of Prison Reform

3:00-4:30: Panel: Mental Health and Mass Incarceration

  • Dr. Elizabeth Ford, Executive Director of Mental Health—NYC Correctional Health Services
  • Johnny Perez, Safe Reentry Advocate at the Urban Justice System

4:30-6:00: Talk and Audience Discussion with Rabia Chaudry, J.D.



All day: Private sessions to organize the national Abolish the Box campaign. All students and recent graduates are welcome to attend. For more information about the Sunday session, please contact Joel Simwinga at