How the new Lancaster County Correctional Facility will impact Black women will be discussed at an upcoming lecture at Millersville University. The Carter G. Woodson Lecture Series is returning with speaker Sylvia A. Harvey, author of “The Shadow System: Mass Incarceration and The American Family.” On Thursday, March 2, Harvey will discuss the issues associated with the new Lancaster facility surrounding the incarceration of women and girls of color.
Dr. Caleb Corkery, a professor in the English department, explains why the lecture is important. “Carter G. Woodson brought attention to the unique history and experience of African Americans,” he says. “He devoted his life to studying and highlighting the history of people of African descent. Considered the ‘father of Black history,’ Woodson started Negro History Week in 1926, which became Black History Month in 1970. We celebrate Woodson’s legacy with this lecture by engaging in issues important to the Black experience.”
The county is considering a new facility because of a number of things, including the aging infrastructure of the current building, which was built in 1851.
There are many issues already present surrounding incarceration in Lancaster, including prison return rates. Corkery notes, “Many leaving the prison system are not able to reintegrate successfully into mainstream society and will ultimately be re-incarcerated. Lancaster County has one of the worst recidivism rates in the country at 53.4% (the fourth highest in the state), meaning half of all people leaving the prison system will return. We want to call attention to how the plans for the new prison might be addressing the needs for Black women to be successful when returning to society.”
Many in the Lancaster community are concerned about how the prison will affect women of color. “The history of slavery and segregation established a pipeline into incarceration for many Black people in this country. The new prison is currently being studied for its size and design. We want to call attention to this process for how it will impact Black women in our county. As many know, the pathway to imprisonment looks different for women than men. We want to bring to light the particular issues for Black women experiencing incarceration. Will the new design address their issues and include innovations that might improve their chances for success when released?” says Corkery.
Corkery notes that this topic is a divisive political issue but feels that there is common ground in the idea that investing in a new prison design will make the community safer.
The Carter G. Woodson Lecture will be held Thursday, March 2, at 7 p.m. in the Reighard Multipurpose Room, Student Memorial Center. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.