Growth in the Face of Extreme Adversity: Insights from Long-Term Prisoners
Monday, March 30th, 7:30 pm

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The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. We send more people to prison, and for longer periods of time, than any other country. The harmful effects of imprisonment on prisoners, families and communities have been widely documented. Yet, some individuals succeed in bettering themselves and achieving positive transformation behind bars, despite seemingly impossible circumstances. Drawing on research conducted with long-term prisoners, this presentation discusses how individuals can confront their suffering and grow in the context of extreme adversity. The implications of the research findings extend far beyond the prison walls.

Instructor
Lila Kazemian, Ph.D.

Lila Kazemian earned her Ph.D. in criminology at the University of Cambridge (UK). She joined the faculty at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York in 2006, where she was recently promoted to Full Professor. Dr. Kazemian's research has largely focused on the study of changes in criminal behavior across time, long-term incarceration, prisoner reintegration, and comparative criminology. Specifically, she has investigated the factors that contribute to the process of abandoning criminal behavior, otherwise known as desistance from crime. Her more recent research entails a longitudinal follow-up of long-term French prisoners. The findings from this study were published in a book titled Positive Growth and Redemption in Prison: Finding Light Behind Bars and Beyond (Routledge, 2020). In this book, she examines how the process of desistance from crime unfolds during lengthy periods of incarceration, and how individuals can succeed in achieving positive transformations in prison. She serves as an expert in legal cases involving discriminatory housing practices against individuals with a criminal record.

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The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. We send more people to prison, and for longer periods of time, than any other country. The harmful effects of imprisonment on prisoners, families and communities have been widely documented. Yet, some individuals succeed in bettering themselves and achieving positive transformation behind bars, despite seemingly impossible circumstances. Drawing on research conducted with long-term prisoners, this presentation discusses how individuals can confront their suffering and grow in the context of extreme adversity. The implications of the research findings extend far beyond the prison walls.