Time: 8.45am for 9.00am start

Dr Andrew Leigh (MP) in conversation with Bruce Western, Vincent Schiraldi, Jessica Simes, Rebecca Wallis and Monica Bell.
Facilitated by Simon Bronitt.

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Lecture Abstract: Analysing historical data on imprisonment, I estimate that Australia’s incarceration rate is as high as at any time since Federation. With many crime rates lower today than in the 1990s, the principal drivers of the increase have been sentencing and bail changes. Although Australia’s imprisonment rate remains well below the US, it is also well above the rate in many other advanced nations. This has significant implications for inequality, including through the labour market outcomes for ex-prisoners and the intergenerational impacts on their children. 

Andrew Leigh MP is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Federal Member for Fenner in the ACT. Prior to being elected in 2010, Andrew was a professor of economics at the Australian National University. He holds a PhD in public policy from Harvard, having graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honours in Law and Arts. Andrew is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and a past recipient of the ‘Young Economist Award’, a prize given every two years by the Economics Society of Australia to the best Australian economist under 40.

His books include Disconnected (2010), Battlers and Billionaires (2013), The Economics of Just About Everything (2014), The Luck of Politics (2015), Choosing Openness: Why Global Engagement is Best for Australia (2017) and Randomistas: How Radical Researchers Changed Our World (2018). Andrew is a keen marathon runner, and hosts a podcast titled “The Good Life”, which is available on Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes).

Following Dr Leigh’s lecture, there will be a facilitated panel discussion on sentencing and incarceration in the United States of America and in Australia.

Bruce Western is Professor of Sociology and co-director of the Justice Lab at Columbia University. He received his BA from the University of Queensland, Australia, and his PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Western’s research examines trends in American economic inequality and the growth of the US penal population. These topics are joined by an interest in the shifting landscape of American poverty over the last 40 years. He is the author of Punishment and Inequality in America (2007) and served as Vice-Chair of a consensus panel of the National Academy of Sciences on the causes and consequences of high rates of incarceration in the United States. His new book is called Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison (2018).  Western is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Radcliffe Fellow, and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Science and the National Academies of Science.

Vincent Schiraldi is a Senior Research Scientist at the Columbia School of Social Work and co-Director of the Columbia Justice Lab. He has extensive experience in public life, founding the policy think tank, the Justice Policy Institute, then moving to government as director of the juvenile corrections in Washington DC, as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation, and Senior Policy Adviser to the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. Schiraldi gained a national reputation as a fearless reformer who emphasized the humane and decent treatment of the men, women, and children under his correctional supervision. He pioneered efforts at community-based alternatives to incarceration in NYC and Washington DC. Schiraldi received a MSW from New York University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Binghamton University.

Jessica Simes is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Boston University. Current projects examine the spatial distribution and neighborhood context of mass incarceration, the conditions of penal confinement, drug use in the year after prison, and the origins of the criminal immigrant stereotype. Her book project, Place and Punishment: The Geography of Mass Incarceration, uses spatial analysis to understand the conditions and consequences of mass incarceration in communities. She is Co-Principal Investigator of the Pennsylvania Solitary Study with Bruce Western. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology and The Oxford Handbook of Ethnicity, Crime, and Immigration.

Rebecca Wallis is an Associate Lecturer at the TC Beirne School of Law. Rebecca’s research interests fall broadly within the areas of criminal law and procedure, and criminal justice system structure and operation. In particular, she explores how criminal law theories and principles play out in policy and practice, and how these shape the operation of the criminal justice system in intended and unintended ways. Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland, and a Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Hons) from Griffith University. She is admitted to practice as a solicitor in the Supreme Court of Queensland and in the High Court of Australia.

Monica Bell is an Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her areas of research include criminal justice, poverty, welfare law, housing, and race and the law. Her recent work has drawn from qualitative data to explore community understandings of criminal justice institutions and policies and has proposed specific legal and policy interventions responsive to those understandings. Before entering the academy, she worked as an attorney at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and clerked for the Honorable Cameron McGowan Currie of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. Bell holds a B.A. in political science and sociology from Furman University, an M.Sc. in equality studies from University College Dublin, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and an A.M. (sociology) and Ph.D. (sociology & social policy) from Harvard University.

Simon Bronitt is a Professor, Deputy Head of School and Deputy Dean (Research) in the TC Beirne School of Law commencing June 2014. Previously he served as the Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security, hosted by Griffith University (2009-2014). Before moving to Queensland in 2009, Professor Bronitt was a member of the College of Law at The Australian National University (1991-2009). During that time he served as Sub Dean in 1997-98, and was promoted to Professor in 2005. During his time at ANU, he held a number of research leadership roles, including Director of the National Europe Centre an EU-funded centre - in the Research School of Humanities (2003-2008) and Director of the Australian Centre for Military Law and Justice, ANU (2009). Drawing on comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives, he has published widely on criminal justice topics ranging across terrorism law and human rights, comparative criminal law, covert policing, family violence, and mental health policing. His key publications include two textbooks, Principles of Criminal Law (4th ed, Thomson Reuters 2017) and Law in Context (4th ed, Federation Press, 2012). 

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Gordon Greenwood Building (#32)
The University of Queensland
Room 215