Image of Michele on a three-person panel.
PJIL Events

Upcoming Events

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Past Events

Cruel and Unusual Conference Page SQUARE

Cruel and Not Unusual: Can America’s Prisons and Jails Change, and, If So, How?

The Prison and Jail Innovation Lab hosted a symposium that brought together the country’s leading experts on prison and jail conditions to reflect on some of the most critical and challenging issues in our field. We discussed what can be done to address the seemingly intractable horrific conditions in certain correctional systems, and debated whether meaningful reform of America’s prisons and jails is truly possible. 

Speakers and audience participants included people with lived experience; journalists; litigators; oversight practitioners; advocates; corrections officials; academics; and more.




February 3-4, 2023 
Location: Texas School of Law, Austin, Texas | Eidman Courtroom
We Are Not Slaves in yellow letters on red background above blue sky and green fields on which black salves walk with farming tools comprise the cover of the book

"We Are Not Slaves": A Book Talk and Panel Discussion

Author Robert Chase will discuss his book “We Are Not Slaves,” a history of the prisoners’ rights movement in Texas in the second half of the 20th century told from the vantage point of prisoners themselves. The book weaves together untold truths from the histories of labor, civil rights, and politics in the United States as it narrates the transition from prison plantations of the past to the mass incarceration of today.

Professor Talitha LeFlouria (History Dept.) will introduce Chase and his work. Following Chase’s talk, Michele Deitch, Distinguished Senior Lecturer and PJIL’s Director, will lead a panel discussion with local advocates focused on current prison labor practices and the “end the exception” movement.

This important and timely event is hosted by William Wayne Justice Center at UT School of Law and co-sponsored by the Prison and Jail Innovation Lab and UT’s Initiative for Law, Societies, and Justice.

Thursday | November 3, 2022 | 5:00pm CT
Location: Townes Hall
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The Pandemic Gender Gap Behind Bars and Lessons for the Future ICPA 2022

Michele Deitch and Alycia Welch, authors of the report “The Pandemic Gender Gap Behind Bars: Meeting the Needs of Women in Custody During COVID-19 and Planning for the Future,” will examine the distinct challenges faced by women in custody during the COVID-19 pandemic and strategies to address those needs at the International Corrections and Prisons Association's annual conference.

Wednesday | October 26, 2022 | 11:45am ET
Location: Orlando, Florida
Text saying, "AN EVENING WITH KERI BLAKINGER AUTHOR OF CORRECTIONS IN INK" over a plain blue-grey background featuring the PJIL logo.

PJIL Presents: An Evening with Keri Blakinger, author of Corrections in Ink

The Prison and Jail Innovation Lab (PJIL) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs hosted an evening of conversation with author and journalist Keri Blakinger, as she discussed her new acclaimed memoir, Corrections in Ink, with LBJ School Professor Michele Deitch.

After spending nearly two years behind bars, Keri became a reporter dedicated to exposing to exposing our flawed prisons as only an insider could. This moderated discussion provided a forum for discussing prison conditions, women in custody, and the potential for redemption among justice-impacted people. Click here to learn more about our speakers and Corrections in Ink.

Tuesday | September 20, 2022 | 5:15pm CT
Location: LBJ Bass Lecture Hall
Compilation of speaker headshots, including 6 women and 1 man featuring the following title: WOMEN IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.

Women in the Criminal Justice System: A Roundtable Discussion

Alycia joined a roundtable discussion on the U.S. Capitol Hill hosted by U.S. Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) and U.S. Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC) to share her expertise on women in the criminal justice system and ways to reduce the harm women experience in correctional facilities.

Thursday | July 14, 2022
Location: U.S. Capitol Hill

Past Webinars and Presentations

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A Gender-Responsive Approach to Corrections During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Social Justice Research Forum, Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Texas at Austin. Alycia Welch and Michele Deitch highlight findings in their forthcoming report, “Pandemic Gender Gap Behind Bars: Meeting the Needs of Women in Custody During COVID-19 and Planning for the Future.”

April 30, 2021
Policy on purpose.

Policy on Purpose, Episode 1: Criminal Justice Reform

In this episode of the LBJ School's new podcast series "Eye on the Lege: Inside the 87th Texas Legislature," PJIL Directors Michele Deitch and Alycia Welch discuss the bills surrounding criminal justice policy and policing this session.

 April 19, 2021
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Correcting Corrections: Lessons for Prisons and Jails in a Post-COVID World

Michele joined the GovExec Daily podcast to discuss the pandemic in the corrections system and how the COVID-19 crisis has brought serious problems in the carceral system to the forefront.

February 1, 2021 
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LBJ In the Arena: Jails & Prisons

Michele sat down with LBJ alumna Nancy La Vigne (MPAff ‘91), then vice president for justice policy at the Urban Institute, and Dr. Ronald Day, vice president of programs at the Fortune Society, to discuss the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 on the criminal justice system, including policing, confinement conditions in jails and prisons, and state and local reforms.

April 8, 2020
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Strategies for Prisons, Jails, and Oversight Bodies During the COVID-19 Crisis

Michele joined other national experts, members of the oversight community and others to share information about what jurisdictions across the country are doing to address COVID-19 in jails and prisons, strategies for reducing jail and prison populations, important COVID-19 policy recommendations, practices across the country, and what the current crisis says about the past, present, and future of American carceral policy.

March 24, 2020
Screenshot of 2015 Ted Talk video featuring Michele Deitch.

Why are we trying kids as adults? | Michele Deitch | TEDxAmherstCollege

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. PJIL Director Michele Deitch addresses the problem of youth who are prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system and confined in adult jails and prisons.

December 19, 2014