A Panel Discussion with Rodricus Crawford, jackie sumell, and Brett Dignam
In 2013, Rodricus Crawford was convicted and sentenced to death in Louisiana. Held in Angola, he was the second-youngest man on death row. Three years later, the conviction was overturned, and Crawford was ultimately exonerated.
Crawford will be joined by multidisciplinary artist jackie sumell and Columbia Law professor Brett Dignam for a panel discussion on the experience of solitary and the challenges of litigating wrongful conviction cases.
The artistic practice of jackie sumell, whose Seed Packets are presented in the exhibition, illuminates the abuses of the American criminal justice system and invites us to imagine a landscape without prisons. Her “Solitary Gardens” — six-by-nine-foot garden beds, based on the dimensions of a solitary cell — are “gardened” through written exchanges between prisoners and volunteers, using what she calls the “ancestral byproducts” of slavery (sugarcane, cotton, indigo).
Brett Dignam, a leading prisoners’ rights advocate, is Vice Dean of Experiential Education at Columbia Law School, where she directs the Challenging the Consequences of Mass Incarceration Clinic. In addition to teaching and supervising students in a broad range of prison-related litigation, Dignam has also designed and overseen workshops conducted by students for prisoners at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut.
Rodricus Crawford is currently traveling the country with sumell as co-pilot of The Garrison, a mobile classroom for prison abolition.
Following the panel discussion, attendees can share with Crawford a recreation of his first meal upon release.