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Everyone entering the Beus Center for Law and Society Building is required to wear a face covering and all guests need to have an appointment.
Accidents may be inevitable, but creating accidental criminals is not; rather, that’s a choice, and one that the criminal justice system should never make. But unfortunately, the criminal justice system has made this choice, repeatedly, by failing to account for a defendant’s mens rea—Latin for “guilty mind”—in imposing criminal liability and scaling punishment across a number of contexts. The consequences of these unjust policies—more people going to prison, and for longer periods—are intolerable at any time. But they’re particularly troubling in a time of mass incarceration, widespread racial injustice, and a prison system overwhelmed by a global pandemic. So now more than ever, there’s a pressing need to bring attention to and reform our nation’s state and federal mens rea policies. That’s the primary goal of Guilty Minds—A Virtual Conference on Mens Rea & Criminal Justice Reform.
The conference was developed and is being hosted by ASU Law Professor Michael Serota. The current list of participants includes:
Typically, legal conferences are narrow in focus, heavy on presentations, and light on public access. This one aims to be different in three main ways:
Conference participants come from both the legal academy and the world of criminal justice practice. They are experts on many different areas of the criminal law and have experience working with many different aspects of the criminal justice system. These varied perspectives will be brought to bear on each panel, which should help facilitate a more meaningful discussion.
All panelists who wrote papers for the conference will pre-record their presentations for viewing before the conference, maximizing the opportunities for group discussion within the six-hour timespan.
Anyone can participate! Well, sort of. The event will be publicly accessible via Zoom Webinar, and there will also be an email address to which audience questions can be sent. That email address will be carefully monitored, and serve as an important source of questions for the group discussion.