Race and Justice in America: An Atlantic Summit

November 12, 2015
Washington, D.C.

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In his October 2015 cover story, "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the devastating impact decades of mass incarceration has had on African-American families.

A breakthrough event pegged to this landmark piece provided exploration and razor-edged analysis of the complicated history of the nation’s justice system and the future of prison reform.

To see photos from this event, please visit our Facebook page.

Presented by

Atlantic Live



Note: All times are ET

9:30 a.m.  Guest Arrival and Registration

10:00 a.m.  Welcome

  • Margaret Low Smith, The Atlantic

10:05 a.m. Race and Justice: An Introduction

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic
  • With James Bennet, The Atlantic

10:30 a.m.  Why We Incarcerate

  • Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF
  • Devah Pager, Professor of Sociology, Harvard University
  • Jason Riley, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute
  • With Mary Louise Kelly, The Atlantic

11:05 a.m.  Crime and Punishment in New Orleans

  • Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans
  • With James Bennet, The Atlantic

11:30 a.m.  Gun Violence, Policing and Communities
An underwriter session from The Joyce Foundation

  • Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mayor of Gary, Indiana
  • With Ellen Alberding, President, The Joyce Foundation

11:40 a.m. The Role of the Court

  • Adam J. Foss, Assistant District Attorney in the Juvenile Division, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
  • Nancy Gertner, Former Judge and Senior Lecturer, Harvard Law School
  • Cyrus R. Vance Jr., Manhattan District Attorney
  • With Matt Thompson, The Atlantic

12:15 p.m.  Lunch

1:15 p.m. Welcome Back

  • Margaret Low Smith, The Atlantic

Remarks from the Open Society Foundations

  • Leslie Gross-Davis, Program Director, Equality Fund

1:20 p.m.  The Talk

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic
  • Michele Norris, Host and Special Correspondent, NPR

1:35 p.m. Think of Calvin: One Family’s Story

  • Kelly Amis, Filmmaker and Founder, Loudspeaker Films
  • Calvin Davis
  • Armonta’e Harris
  • Carlet Harris
  • With Michele Norris, NPR

2:00 p.m. Walking the Beat

  • Ronald Davis, Director of Community Oriented Policing Services, Department of Justice
  • Cathy Lanier, Chief of Police, Washington, D.C.
  • Virginia Matias, Officer, Camden County, New Jersey
  • With Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

2:25 p.m.  The Case for Diversion

  • Danielle Sered, Director of Common Justice, Vera Institute of Justice
  • With Scott Stossel, The Atlantic

2:40 p.m. Sentencing Drug Offenders

  • Steven H. Cook, President, National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys
  • John Walters, “Drug Czar” under George W. Bush and Chief Operating Officer, Hudson Institute
  • With Mary Louise Kelly, The Atlantic

3:00 p.m. Remarks from the Ford Foundation

  • Eric K. Ward, Program Officer

3:05 p.m. What Happens to Children When Parents Go to Prison?

  • Bahiyyah Muhammad, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, Howard University
  • Talia Thomas, Student, Howard University
  • With Matt Thompson, The Atlantic

3:25 p.m.  A Former Inmate and a Warden on Rehabilitation

  • Susan Burton, Founder and Executive Director, A New Way of Life Reentry Project
  • Nneka Jones Tapia, Executive Director, Cook County Department of Corrections
  • With Michele Norris, NPR

3:50 p.m.  The View from the White House

  • Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama
  • With James Bennet, The Atlantic

4:10 p.m. The Case for Hope in the Age of Mass Incarceration

  • Thabiti Anyabwile, Pastor, Anacostia River Church
  • With Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

4:20 p.m.  Closing Thoughts

  • Margaret Low Smith, The Atlantic



Presenting Level

Supporting Level

Contributing Level

Also in This Series

  • Race, Justice & Equity

    We’ll explore how to reform, and possibly rebuild, a criminal justice system that has for too long been based on racial inequities.

  • Politics

    Race + Justice: Pittsburgh

    When it comes to criminal justice reform, Pittsburgh is at a crossroads.

  • Race + Justice
    Roundtable Conversations

    As part of the Race + Justice series, The Atlantic has convened roundtable dinners in nine cities with policymakers, community members and the news media. At each gathering, a senior Atlantic journalist guides an in-depth, on-the-record conversation on the state of justice in the local community.

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