Book in Common

A Book in Common is chosen each academic year by a group of university faculty and staff and community members. The Book in Common is a shared, community read, designed to promote discussion and understanding of important issues facing the broader community. Drawing on the themes of the book chosen, California State University, Chico, Butte Community College, the City of Chico, and Butte County sponsor a variety of events: panel discussions, lectures, and other public events. This schedule of events includes an appearance in Chico by the book’s author.

Book in Common

Socio-legal Aspects of Sentencing

Panel of CSU, Chico Faculty
Dr. Jonathan Caudill, Dr. Michael Coyle, Dr. Alan Gibson, Dr. Darin Haerle, Dr. Doris Schartmueller, and Dr. Sarah Smith

Decorative ImageThis presentation is part of a series of events related to CSU, Chico’s 2015-2016 Book in Common, “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson, which focuses on prisoners and criminal justice issues. Six CSU, Chico professors approach the subject from six different perspectives: Criminal Continuity among Homicide Offenders (Dr. Caudill); Sentencing in the Age of the Prison Industrial Complex (Dr. Coyle); The Constitutional Roadblock to a Moratorium on the Death Penalty (Dr. Gibson), Adultification – Sentencing Youth into Adulthood (Dr. Darin Haerle); The U.S. Supreme Court and Major Sentencing Decisions (Dr. Schartmueller); and Patriarchy, Paternalism, or Just Plain Punishment? (Dr. Smith). Presentation Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes | View Now

The Contours of Prison Writing: Or what we (should) talk about when we talk about prison writing

Dr. Nathaniel Heggins Bryant
Faculty, English Department, CSU, Chico

Decorative ImageDr. Heggins Bryant explores literature written by prisoners; what his dissertation calls, “The Productive Intellectual Labor of U.S. Prison Writers.” Beginning with Robert Stroud, the famous “Birdman of Alcatraz,” who wrote widely used books such as “Digest on the Diseases of Birds,” Dr. Heggins Bryant looks at the rich written body of work produced by inmates. He identifies the major prison writing genres as scientific research, legal opinions from self-educated jailhouse lawyers, letter writing on social issues, and personal essays and testimonials. Dr. Heggins Bryant concludes by describing and recommending books written by prisoners. The presentation dovetails with the 2015-2016 Book in Common, “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson, which focuses on prisoners and criminal justice issues. Presentation Time: 1 hour, 7 minutes | View Now

Prisoners as Capital and Persons as Property

Dr. Michael J. Coyle
Faculty, Political Science Department, CSU, Chico
Dr. Kate Transchel
Faculty, History Department, CSU, Chico

Decorative ImageThese presentations could be subtitled, “look beneath the surface.” Dr. Michael Coyle advocates looking more closely at the prison system in order to find alternatives to it, while Dr. Kate Transchel explains how human trafficking is going on everywhere – we just need to educate ourselves to be able to see it. Each speaker ends with suggestions for what the audience can do to take action.

Dr. Coyle has been studying penal abolition – that is, the eventual abolition of the current prison system. He states that the “criminal justice” system is not working, is not “justice,” and is detrimental to society. Dr. Coyle also steps back and looks at how people don’t tend to question what other people do to produce the food and other commodities they use every day. He gives examples of this, and then encourages the audience to look more closely at the prison system.

Dr. Transchel is working to educate people to realize that slavery is not a thing of the past; there are an estimated 30 million slaves world-wide, including 200,000 to 300,000 in the United States. She places the reality of sex trafficking in the context of societal attitudes, such as how sexualized images of children and the objectification and commodification of women play into sex trafficking. She also touches on other types of slavery: labor exploitation, begging, body parts, babies for adoption, and child soldiers. Presentation Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes | View Now