5th annual ASU Prison Education Conference features Valley judge


Kristen LaRue

A high school principal, a judge and a former prisoner walk onto a college campus …

No, this is not the beginning of a joke. It’s Arizona State University’s fifth annual Prison Education Conference . The event, hosted by the student-run Prison Education Awareness Club (PEAC) and the Department of English, will take place on Saturday, March 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Memorial Union's Turquoise Room on ASU’s Tempe campus.

The conference highlights prison education programs as part of the American landscape. This year’s event will focus primarily on prevention, education, juvenile justice and transition both into and out of the prison system. Panels include members from the Arizona Department of Corrections educational, treatment and counseling services, as well as prison educators from the New Mexico Corrections Department and ASU.

Michelle Ribeiro, recently retired from the New Mexico Corrections Department, will speak on the creation of the Pen Project — a writing class that allows maximum-security and other incarcerated writers to receive feedback from ASU interns. Sheldon Thompson, a Pen Project participant who, on his release, was accepted on scholarship to the Institute of American Indian Arts, will speak of his educational experiences (both in and out of prison) and also share some of his creative work.

The keynote speakers, Judge Lilia Alvarez and Kirstin Eidenbach, will conclude with a discussion about deterring juveniles from entering the system. Judge Alvarez is the presiding judge for the Guadalupe Municipal Court and also leads a "teen court" in Guadalupe. Kirstin Eidenbach is an attorney who focuses on prisoner’s rights issues.

The conference is free and open to the public, and includes a complimentary lunch (with vegetarian options). Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.

Space is limited. RVSP required. Reserve your seat here or contact PEAC.org@asu.edu for more information.

Written by Mimi Wang, Kylie Kilian and Corri Wells