The United States incarcerates more people, and at the highest rate, than anywhere else in the world. The phenomenon of rapid and widespread imprisonment that goes well beyond the historical or comparative norm is referred to as “mass incarceration.” Ultimately, the effects of mass incarceration are felt very close to home, not only by the incarcerated, but by their family members and within communities that are particularly hard hit.

The Symposium on Mass Incarceration, Communities, and Families — a free virtual event to be held April 16, 2021, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — represents a transdisciplinary and inclusive effort to highlight the scope, impact, and response to widespread imprisonment in Virginia. Panelists consist of community leaders, social justice activists, justice-involved persons, and scholars from the Virginia Tech community as well as other Virginia universities.

The organizers hope that the day will spark future collaborative work, resource sharing, and the development of innovative responses aimed at addressing mass incarceration and the needs of families and communities.

Leading the conference are Joyce A. Arditti, symposium organizer and professor of human development and family science at Virginia Tech, and April Few-Demo, professor and head of the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Virginia Tech.

Lead sponsors, all at Virginia Tech, include the Equity and Social Disparity in the Human Condition Destination Area; the Department of Human Development and Family Science; the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; the Center for Humanities; the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment; the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech; and the School of Education.

Additional sponsors, also at Virginia Tech, include the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, the Coalition for Justice, the Department of English, the Department of History, the School of Performing Arts, the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Political Science, the Department of Religion and Culture, the Department of Sociology, and the Policy Destination Area.

Even though the course is free, registration is required. The registration deadline is April 16, 2021. For more information, visit the symposium website.