Instructor: Judy Clark
Date: Saturday, September 12, 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm | Saturday, September 19, 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm/
Format: Union will hold online weekend intensives during September via synchronous classes over two consecutive Saturdays, and additional asynchronous learning between the two weekends.
The prisons have been a center of the COVID pandemic revealing the underlying issues of over-incarceration, long sentences and the role of the prison system for maintaining white supremacy. This class is being held on the anniversary of the Attica Rebellion of 1971 and the subsequent massacre. Currently, there are calls for reform measures to change sentencing and parole policies, and eliminate bail. The struggles against the prison system lie at the heart of the call of Black Lives Matter. The course instructor, who spent 38 years in prison, draws from her personal experience, along with utilizing readings, videos and discussion. This course aims to challenge the invisibility of women in prison, to examine the dehumanization and daily traumas of imprisonment, and the creative ways that women build community, and programs that address day to day needs and transformative aspirations. We will look at current struggles to challenge the prison system in New York State and how we can participate. Notes: Pass/fail. Cannot be taken for reading credit. Auditors are expected to attend all class meetings.
Judith Clark spent 38 years in prison for her part in the 1981 Brinks armored car robbery, in which three people were killed. While reckoning with the damage she caused, she worked with others inside to create community-based programs to address the problems they faced and their desires to grow. She was one of the founders of an AIDS education and support program, and part of the committee of women who built a college program after public funding was eliminated. She helped develop programs for mothers to sustain bonds with their children and mentored new mothers living in the prison nursery. She has written about that work, the experiences of mothers inside, the spiritual work of remorse and the efforts of women inside to build community. Her published poetry, memoir and scholarly writing can be found on line. Released in 2019, she currently works with Hour Children, which provides housing and support for women emerging from prison, and is active in advocacy work for those she left behind the walls.