With a mission to examine the deep roots and many branches of the American carceral state and to find ways to eradicate their harms, Inquest, an early initiative of the Institute to End Mass Incarceration, is set to launch July 26, 2021, with a thought-provoking slate of essays and commentary.
Inquest will present a forum for ideas and analysis from those closest to the racial and social injustice of mass incarceration — the thinkers and the doers who have been harmed by it, are working in and around the system that feeds it, and are dedicating themselves to combating its devastation. The publication’s opening slate of authors debuting content its first week includes people presently and formerly incarcerated in jails and prisons, elected officials, lawyers, policymakers, and leading academics. On just its opening day, Inquest will publish:
- An essay by the first incarcerated person ever elected to public office in the nation’s capital
- A piece by leading legal scholars, including a former member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, criticizing the Biden administration’s string of early disappointments on criminal justice issues.
- An essay arguing against closing a prison in the state of Washington, by a man who is currently incarcerated there.
- A piece explaining how the forensic science system is a facet of law enforcement and feeds mass incarceration.
Andrew Manuel Crespo, the Institute’s Executive Faculty Director, is one of Inquest’s founding editors. “Our goal in creating Inquest is to build an energetic and creative forum where people actively engaged in the essential work of decarceration can come together across fields, backgrounds, and experiences to share ideas with one another and with the world,” Crespo said.
Premal Dharia, the Institute’s Executive Director, is also a founding editor. “As people across the country continue to recognize the devastating harms of our carceral state, Inquest provides a space for exploration, innovation — and collaborative movement toward the end of those harms,” Dharia said.
To help launch the effort, the Institute named Cristian Farias, a seasoned legal journalist and an alumnus of the New York Times’ editorial board, a Senior Fellow in 2020. Along with Crespo and Dharia, Farias is one of Inquest’s founding editors. “Andrew and I are so thrilled to have Cristian on board as a member of Inquest’s core founding team,” said Dharia. “His deep experience in legal journalism – and his editorial experience at the New York Times and elsewhere – is an invaluable asset as we seek to offer creative, thoughtful essays that go beyond the surface and get at the core of what we need to understand and do to dismantle mass incarceration.”
“When the idea for Inquest took root, we had only scratched the surface of the enormity of its mission, and how necessary it is to center the voices who get that the problem of mass incarceration requires far deeper interventions than what we see currently implemented” Farias said. “At a time when many are trying to get us to look away from our long history of racism and social control, I really hope Inquest does the opposite: force us to stare at mass incarceration for the horror that it is and confront it.”
Inquest is an early initiative of the Institute to End Mass Incarceration, but its editorial direction is distinct from the Institute’s research, organizing campaigns, and advocacy. The platform is open to submissions from people with ideas from a range of core areas, including how to address the foundations of mass incarceration, its entrenched institutions and practices, the laws and policies that fuel it, and pathways and interventions to confront its harms. For inquiries, contact [email protected].