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SU students encourage dialogue on criminal justice reform

Pictured (left to right) at a criminal justice reform summit at the Charles Koch Institute in New Orleans are student advisors Kristie Perry, project manager, and Alma Thornton, director, SU Center for Social Research; Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president and CEO, Thurgood Marshall College Fund; Political science students and summit presenters Perry White and Chiante White; Melanie Johnson, assistant professor and student advisor, political science, SUBR, and Irlondria McCormick, graduate research assistant, SU Center for Social Research, and summit presenter.


Baton Rouge, LA - Five Southern University students from the Departments of Sociology and Political Science presented research on mass incarceration last week at the Charles Koch Institute in New Orleans.

The research focused on the social, economic, and family burdens of mass incarceration at the Institute's Advancing Justice 2015: An Agenda for Human Dignity and Public Safety Summit, November 4-6, 2015.

The summit's main purpose was to stimulate dialogue and foster non-partisan collaborations between academia, defense attorneys, judges, politicians, prosecutors, law enforcement, and the media, to identify the challenges and solutions to further the progress of criminal justice reform to reduce mass incarceration in the U.S.

"The summit provided a forum for a diverse population of people with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to engage in intellectual, inclusive, respectful dialogue with the hope to formulate new, innovative policies and practices to reduce mass incarceration and increase public safety on the local, state and federal level" said Melanie Johnson, SU assistant professor of political science.

The form sessions centered on identifying, creating, and implementing solutions to reform the U.S. justice system to achieve greater human dignity and public safety.

"The U.S. incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country on the planet," said Perry White, a political science junior at SU. "I think that stat alone was enough to get a think tank of state officials, attorneys, and interest groups together to figure out what exactly is going on when it comes to our nations' criminal justice system."

A group of students from Jackson State, Florida A&M, and Grambling State universities also were in attendance.

For more information on the Charles Koch Institute, visit