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Tuesday, January 23, 2001

"Criminal Justice System Subject of Feb. 7 Lecture"

SALISBURY, MD--A Baltimore professor and nationally known author who has used philosophy to help prisoners turn their lives around will speak at Salisbury State University on the criminal justice system.

Dr. Drew Leder will speak on Wednesday, February 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Worcester Room of the Commons. Leder’s presentation is titled “Guns and Voices: Inmates Reflect on Life Behind Bars.”

Leder was invited to speak by Dr. James Hatley of the SSU Philosophy Department. Efforts are underway to include officials from the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover, MD, as part of the discussion.

“We want to bring in the speakers that appeal to the passions and the activism of our students,” Hatley said. “Leder has always been involved in a variety of issues relating to the spiritual development of the individual through philosophy.”

Hatley said the benefits of such speakers go far beyond the lecture room. “Our purpose is to ferment discussion at the campus and community level about such issues,” he said.

Leder has spent the last several years working with maximum security inmates in the Maryland Penitentiary in Baltimore.  

Leder uses philosophy and spiritual tools to explore the nature of violence, incarceration, and self-transformation with the inmates.

“I started volunteering as a philosophy professor and then I began interviewing and working with the inmate population,” he said.

Leder said the community needs to breakdown stereotypes about inmates. One such misconception is that inmates cannot change. Leder said the reading and studying of philosophy prompted prisoners to reflect on their own life experiences to generate change.

“The inmates used philosophy to reflect on their own life. They used the experience for self-transformation,” Leder said.


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