Nigel Hatton - On the Braxton Institute
Nigel Hatton - On Incarceration
“So I was teaching my class at the university and then once I dismissed those students I immediately got in the car and drove down to this prison. What I wanted to do was to help them [those incarcerated] understand the ways in which we could look at narrative and literature and look at masterful works within the tradition that dealt with themes and issues that would be pertinent to them, and also build upon what was their knowledge and their abilities to theorize about some of the important problems in our society because they’re brilliant women.
They’re there often for crimes that in other societies that are understood as advanced or developed Western democracies, they would not be in prisons. Instead, they would be in programs designed to rehabilitate them and would return to society and they would participate in that society once again. So our model is different. It seems to me it’s a model that throws away lives. I’m hoping for ways in which teaching literature and also narrative medicine is going to stress the importance of life and to say that we cannot throw these lives away. These are human beings and they are part of what is going to make our society great. The idea of throwing them away is what we must resist.
There is a startling statistic that in the past 25 years the State of California has created 20 new prisons and one new university. I teach at the one new university, but the 23 prisons are surrounding us. So I wanted to really think about the ways that a literature professor could participate and resist what is that continued effort to create this prison industrial complex at the cost of human life.” – Dr. Nigel Hatton