PUBLISHED:April 11, 2012

April 12-13 symposium will examine wrongful convictions, criminal justice reform

A symposium at Duke University on April 12 and 13 will examine criminal justice reform through the lens of both law and policy.

“Realizing Criminal Justice Reform Together,” the first annual North Carolina Law and Policy Symposium, will focus on such matters as preventing and rectifying wrongful convictions, reintegration and the pardons system, the “school-to prison pipeline,” pre-conviction reforms, and effective legislative advocacy techniques.

“North Carolina has been a successful laboratory for meaningful change in criminal justice in the past,” said Caitlin Swain, the student director of the Duke Law Innocence Project. “We all share an optimistic view about the kind of change that can be created here in the future. The symposium aims to provide a space for expanding our current conversation about how to achieve a more fair, more effective justice system in North Carolina.”

Following opening remarks from Senator Floyd McKissick, Jr., a preview of a new documentary film will launch the symposium at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 12 in room 3041 at Duke Law School. The documentary by local filmmaker Ryan Richards focuses on the experiences of Shawn Massey and Scott Pierpoint, both of whom were exonerated in 2010 with the help of the Duke Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic after serving lengthy prison terms for crimes they did not commit. Both Massey and Pierpoint will be in attendance at the screening, which will be followed at 7:30 p.m. by the SpiritHouse production of “Collective Sun: Reshape the Mo(u)rning,” a performance piece that explores the impact of prison and policing on North Carolina’s African American community.

The symposium will continue at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, April 13 at Duke’s Terry Sanford School of Public Policy with a series of workshops and panel discussions featuring a prestigious group of practitioners, advocates, and researchers from across the state. CLE credit is available for a practitioners’ workshop on crafting effective legal motions on behalf of individuals alleging plausible claims of wrongful convictions. Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP will deliver a keynote address at 12:30 p.m. titled “Reclaiming a Noble Ideal: Equal Protection Under the Law.” Barber will bring reflections on the state of criminal justice in North Carolina today and draw lessons from the contested execution of Troy Davis in Georgia and the recent death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida.

View the full symposium agenda.

All workshops and panel discussions are free and open to the public. A separate fee will be charged for CLE credit. Parking for the symposium is available at the Bryan Center.

The student-organized symposium is presented by the Duke Law Innocence Project, the Sanford Criminal Justice Policy Project, the Duke Law Black Law Students Association, the Duke Law Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility and the Center for Law, Race and Politics.