Thursday September 28, 2023 | Saxbe Auditorium & on zoom!
There is widespread and bipartisan agreement that the criminal legal system in the United States is broken and in need of reform. Yet, little has changed. Mass incarceration continues to be a feature of the US criminal legal system. There are birth-to-prison pipelines where simply being born in a poor and underprivileged neighborhood vastly increases a person’s risk of arrest. There are also serious and disparate impacts on people of color as racial inequality persists at every level of the criminal legal system. Police abuse of power continues to regularly make the news. The mentally ill and those with substance abuse problems continue to risk arrest while treatment is hard to access. Mass protest movements, such as Black Lives Matter, have shown how different and creative approaches can help to raise awareness about the need for reform. However, the Black Lives Matter movement is also an example of how hard it is to reform long-standing practices in our criminal legal system.
How can negotiation help in the midst of these serious problems? Professor Alkon will discuss how negotiating for justice could make meaningful changes while recognizing that there are no simple solutions. Negotiating for justice goes beyond case-by-case negotiation through plea bargaining. Negotiating for justice includes negotiating for changes in our laws at both the state and federal level. Negotiating for justice includes negotiating for policy changes within the police, prosecution, and our judiciary. Negotiating for justice includes negotiating for changes in attitudes so that we as a society stop looking to our criminal legal system to solve problems that are complex and require larger societal responses. Professor Alkon encourages all those interested in improving our criminal legal system to look expansively at ways that we can use negotiation to make meaningful and long-lasting changes for justice.
Cynthia Alkon is a Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law where she serves as the Director of the Criminal Law, Justice & Policy Program.
About James K. L. Lawrence ’65
James K. L. Lawrence (’65) is a retired partner with Frost Brown Todd in Cincinnati. Following graduation from law school, he worked as an attorney at the National Labor Relations Board. He left the Board to join his firm and, for more than 30 years, practiced labor-relations and employment law. He is a skilled advocate in arbitration and an astute negotiator in collective bargaining and settlement discussions.
He has pursued vigorously the sustained study of dispute resolution materials at programs throughout the country, including the Program on Negotiation at Harvard, and has blended that study and practice into teaching courses in negotiation and mediation at Moritz and at the University of Cincinnati Law School. He has given generously of his time, talent, guidance and resources to Moritz and our Program on Dispute Resolution over the years, so it is perfectly fitting that this expanded educational enterprise with Negotiation at its core be conducted in his name.