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Upcoming Criminal Justice Symposium

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Posted on Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Westminster College’s Department of Criminal Justice welcomes two notable speakers to campus for the biannual Criminal Justice Symposium, April 9 – 10. The event is free and open to the public.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, April 9 in the Witherspoon Rooms, McKelvey Campus Center, Amanda Alexander, Soros Justice fellow and director of the University of Michigan School Prison and Family Justice Project, will give the symposium lecture, “Addressing Mass Incarcerations’ Impact on Families.” The project serves families divided by incarceration and the foster care system using a combination of direct representation, know-your-rights education, targeted litigation, and advocacy.

Alexander received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she founded the Women, Incarceration, and Family Law Project. During law school, she worked with The Bronx Defenders, conducted research for National Advocates for Pregnant Women, and worked on alternatives to stop-and-frisk policing as an Ella Baker Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. A Ph.D. candidate in international history at Columbia University, Alexander’s teaching and research interests include mass incarceration, criminal law, reproductive justice, family law, and prison teaching. She is a sponsor of Michigan’s Inside-Out Prison Exchange Theory Group and an adviser to the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated.

At 12:15 p.m. Friday, April 10 in the Witherspoon Rooms, McKelvey Campus Center, Attorney Gary Tennis of Philadelphia will give the symposium lunchtime discussion, “Drug and Alcohol Policy: Is it Time to Come Out of the Dark Ages?” Nominated by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett to serve as secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs in January 2012, Tennis retired from his previous position as chief of the legislation unit in the Philadelphia's District Attorney's Office. There, he represented the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association working with the General Assembly. In addition to more than 25 years of legislative experience, Tennis served as executive director of the President's Commission on Model State Drug Laws.

Tennis received his bachelor's degree from the University of Tulsa in 1975 and was a Rhodes Scholarship nominee. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to watch the documentary "It's More Expensive to Do Nothing" presented by SCION at 9 p.m. Thursday; attend the Innovative Strategies Panel, featuring  former inmate Shelby-Unger-Bacz, Georgia Department of Corrections employee Tricia Johnson ‘14, Lawrence County District Attorney Josh Lamancusa, Jails to Jobs Special Projects Liaison Gary Fillipone, and Aspinwill Police Officer Scott Bailey at 9 a.m. Friday; engage in student presentations on innovative programming with the winning paper receiving $500 at 1:30 p.m. Friday; and network with professionals in the FBI, state police officers, social workers, and probation officers at 3 p.m. Friday.

High school and college students, teachers, researchers and practitioners are encouraged to attend. Call 724-946-7253 or email Mary Pitman at for additional information. Visit for more information on Westminster College’s criminal justice program.