MORGANTOWN – The West Virginia University College of Law ha scheduled a “Voices Behind Bars” event that will feature a dramatic reading of a book that explores the “moral implications” of the justice system.

The “Voices Behind Bars” event, which will include readings of four stories from the book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson, will be held Oct. 10, 7 to 8:30 pm in Room 154 at the college.

A good turnout is expected for the readings as Jennifer Powell, director of the Center for Law and Public Service told The West Virginia Record, “We expect between 50-100 guests.”

The event is free and open to the public. It will include a discussion period after the readings that will allow for questions and answers.

“This program is offered to the public,” Powell said. “Anyone can attend for free. There will be a question and answer period where audience members can ask questions or provide feedback about the program.”

Following each of the four readings, a discussion will be held focusing on race and wrongful incarceration, mental illness, gender and incarcerated minors. Valena Beety, a WVU law professor will lead the audience in the discussion along with Aaron Moss, an attorney, and 2015 WVU Law graduate. Moss is currently working on prison reform.

The “Voices Behind Bars” readings will be performed by WVU graduate fellows Imani Berry, Oluremi Famodu, Quinn Jones and Phillip Zapkin. Honor student Emma Harrison will also read as well as first-year law student Stephen Scott.

“The Oct. 10 program is a joint program between the WVU College of Law, the Honors College, and the Office of Graduate Education,” Powell said. “The Honors College and Graduate Education recruited the students who are doing the readings, including one law student who was an Honors College graduate.”

“Voices Behind Bars” is part of WVU’s Campus Read program, It brings together students, faculty, staf, and the community of Morgantown in a “common reading experience” that is academically driven. The Campus Read program looks to promote the exchange of ideas and create critical thinking among individuals through a thoughtful dialogue. Through this process, the intent of the program is to allow these persons to make new connections while discussing important ideas.

The Campus Read program will explore several book themes through these events. The books will focus on race, poverty, justice, mental illness, capital punishment and women and children in jail. Campus Read is a voluntary program that many faculty have adopted in their course curriculum across WVU.

The book by Stevenson was selected by a committee of students, staff and faculty. It was No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list and was named one of the best books of the year by several news publications. It is the winner of the Carnegie Medal for nonfiction and NAACP Image Award for nonfiction.

The book is a true story about Stevenson’s case with Walter McMillian, a man sentenced to die for a murder he said he didn’t commit. The story is an account of the pursuit of justice.

“Voices Behind Bars” is sponsored by the Office of Graduate Education and Life, Honors College and College of Law at WVU.

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