For the past years, our Public Engagement programming has explored a social justice topic over the span of an entire year to raise public awareness about equity and inclusion. Being able to look at an issue throughout the year allows Seattle communities to have a substantive dialog with the library and one another, while also centering the voices and lived experiences of those that are most affected by social inequities. Our year-round social justice topic also lets us highlight how creativity and resilience can bring people together to prioritize equity and inclusion-a service priority of the library.
In 2016, we focused on homelessness. Criminal justice has been the focus in 2017. For 2018, we are planning to explore environmental justice.
Source: Prison Inmate Characteristics. (2009, December 31).
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Correctional Populations in the United States. (2015, June).
Source: Native Disparities in Youth Incarceration. (2017, October 12).
As we have explored criminal justice in 2017, we have held public events and asked court-involved youth and adults, along with their families, to share how mass incarceration has affected them. Along the way, we have also invited the broader community to join the conversation with us as we discussed criminal justice topics like the school to prison pipeline, Ava Duvernay's film 13th and bail reform, among other things. Legal advocates have also helped the library share information about criminal justice via social media. Our closing event for the criminal justice series is community curated and designed to help people consider the ways that libraries can help us imagine a world without prisons, to the extent that doing so frames a conversation about building a world where people and communities are whole, healthy, inclusive and interconnected.