Tex Pasley '17
Co-President, Va. Law in Prison Project
By now, I suspect that everyone at this Law School (who is either a user of the library or who likes their coffee free) has passed the art exhibit currently on display in Withers-Brown. If you have not already, I encourage you to read the text accompanying the exhibit and take a copy of the materials provided on the table to the left of the library entrance.
All the artwork in the exhibit is created by a group of incarcerated youth at the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center. Every year, the children visit Art 180—a Richmond non-profit—and work with artists to produce exhibitions that visualize their ideas for transforming the juvenile justice system. Under the name “Performing Statistics,” Art 180 works with the Legal Aid Justice Center to advocate for changes in juvenile justice policy here in Virginia. The current exhibit will run until Spring Break, and we hope to hold a reception with Performing Statistics in the last week of February, during the National Student Week Against Mass Incarceration (co-sponsored by the Virginia Law in Prison Project, and the UVa chapters of the National Lawyers’ Guild and Black Law Students Association).
I recognize some may object to the content and prominent location of the exhibit within the law school, and I encourage people to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have questions or concerns. My hope is that the exhibit forces us to discuss the moral, political, and legal appropriateness of the choice to deprive a person—juvenile or adult—of her liberty. The process of legal education prepares us well for the objective, rigorous analysis lawyers need to advocate, but we sometimes need a reminder that the law is fundamentally an effort to protect human dignity.
This show would not happen without the efforts of many people, and I would like to especially thank Kate Duvall in the student affairs office, Taylor Fitchett and Micheal Klepper in the Law Library, the staff at Performing Statistics, and the members of VLPP and CARE for their help in putting up the show.