Media Advisory: UC Irvine School of Law holds summit on “Women and Mass Incarceration: The U.S. Crisis of Women and Girls Behind Bars”


IRVINE, Calif. — The University of California, Irvine School of Law will host the Center for Biotechnology & Global Health Policy’s summit, “Women and Mass Incarceration: The U.S. Crisis of Women and Girls Behind Bars,” on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, from 12:00-4:00 p.m. The summit will be livestreamed, and a video recording will be available following the event.


WHAT: Expert panels include such speakers as UCI Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, Hon. Pamela Alexander, UCI Law Professor Michele Goodwin, Sue Ellen Allen, Detective Jack Cole, Columbia University Professor Carl Hart, Dr. George Woods Jr. and Victoria Law.

At the summit, Goodwin will highlight the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy’s most recent study on girls behind bars, which shows dramatic racial disparities across the nation. According to state and federal data, the United States incarcerates more women than any other nation in the world — more than Russia, China and India combined. The incarceration rate for women has grown by more than 800 percent from 1977 to 2007 — nearly twice the rate of men. Two-thirds of these women are nonviolent offenders, and many are mothers whose children are placed in foster care.

Goodwin explains: “Because we address incarceration as a male issue, we ignore the growing problem of women behind bars and the conditions associated with birthing in prison, children torn from both parents, and generally failed policies related to our nation’s drug war.”

This summit tackles urgent concerns, “given that both Republicans and Democrats now recognize that mass incarceration cannot be sustained at current levels,” Goodwin adds. Experts at the summit will raise questions about mass incarceration and the rationale behind the drug war; the racial disparities of women behind bars; and health, rape, solitary confinement and death in U.S. jails and prisons. Panelists will point out that when nonviolent women leave prisons, many cannot vote, obtain housing or jobs, or even qualify to volunteer — because they have a criminal record.


  • Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean, UC Irvine School of Law
  • Michele Goodwin, Chancellor’s Professor of Law, UC Irvine School of Law
  • George W. Woods Jr., M.D., International Academy of Law & Mental Health
  • Hon. Pamela Alexander, District Court Judge, Minnesota
  • Sue Ellen Allen, Executive Director, Gina’s Team
  • Linda Pence, Attorney, represented Bei Bei Shuai in first-degree murder case
  • Carl Hart, Associate Professor, Columbia University
  • Victoria Law, Author, “Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women”
  • Nusrat Choudhury, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program
  • David Orentlicher, J.D., M.D., Professor of Law, Indiana University, and former legislator
  • Claire Coles, Ph.D., Director, Maternal Substance Abuse & Child Development Program, Emory University
  • Jack Cole, Co-founder, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

WHERE: UC Irvine School of Law, EDU 1131 (map and directions)

WHEN: Tuesday, September 22, 2015, 12:00-4:00 p.m. PST. LIVE WEBCAST AVAILABLE >

  • 12:00 p.m. Welcome & Introduction
    Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and Michele Goodwin
  • 12:05 p.m. Opening Keynote/Q&A
    Sue Ellen Allen
  • 12:45 p.m. Mass Incarceration & The Drug War’s Bad Science
    Claire Coles and Carl Hart
  • 1:30 p.m. Racial Disparities & Mass Incarceration
    Jack Cole and Hon. Pamela Alexander
  • 2:15 p.m. Women’s Conditions Behind Bars: Health, Abuse and Death
    David Orentlicher and Nusrat Choudhury
  • 3:10 p.m. Closing Keynote Session
    Erwin Chemerinsky, Victoria Law, Linda Pence and Michele Goodwin (moderator)

PRESS BREAKFAST: Members of the media are invited to a private meeting and breakfast from 9:00-10:15 a.m. to gather with the panelists, ask questions and film interviews. Please RSVP to Rabie Kadri at

REGISTER: Space is limited for this event. Members of the public may reserve a seat or join the waitlist, or watch the event live online.


The Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy serves as a reference point for research, policy development and advocacy concerning science, biotechnology, bioethics and health care in the United States and abroad. The CBGHP engages multiple stakeholder communities: scholars, policy makers, civil society, healthcare providers, the judiciary and the general public, highlighting the collaborative role and function of law in responding to state, federal and international health care concerns.

UCI Law is a visionary law school focused on training talented and passionate lawyers and driven by professional excellence, intellectual rigor, and a commitment to enrich our communities through public service. UCI Law is a collegial environment, and our faculty comprises accomplished, nationally ranked thought leaders from around the country with a broad range of expertise. More about the Law School is available at