Jefferson-Bullock makes the case for equality, understanding at conference

Jalila Jefferson-BullockJalila Jefferson-Bullock, associate professor of law, was recently a conference panelist at the University of Pennsylvania Black Law Students Association 33rd Annual Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander Commemorative Conference. The conference celebrates the life of Dr. Alexander, the first Black woman to graduate from Penn Law in 1927.

Jefferson-Bullock was originally interested in the conference because Dr. Alexander was the first president of Delta Sigma Theta, a worldwide society of black women to which Jefferson-Bullock belongs.

Beyond that connection, Jefferson-Bullock is passionate about solutions to the long-lasting, harmful effects of imprisonment of people of color and considers herself a prison abolitionist. She and her fellow panelists talk was entitled "The Road to Freedom: Abolishing America's Prison System."

"My role on the panel was to help the panel discuss processes that can be put into place to punish people differently, so prison does not have to be the default method in our country. We talked about the rise of probation and alternatives to incarceration; other programs such as home incarceration for certain offenders, probation for certain offenders, drug programs, and transformative justice," said Jefferson-Bullock.

She said her panel spoke about the root of crime and why certain people act the way they do. "People are inherently good, but they react that way because something went wrong in their life. I like the concept of transformative justice-we do not just throw the book at them. We need to figure out why they are in this position in the first place. Similar situations tell us that maybe something is wrong with society that needs to be changed," Jefferson-Bullock said.

Her participation and discussion in this panel resonates with our Spiritan mission. Jefferson-Bullock said, "It is about equality and assistance to the least among us. Prisoners are considered the least among us; they have no real rights. But our Duquesne mission is directly from God-to assist the least among us. It goes back to our commandments to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. If you love your neighbor as yourself, that is really what transformative justice is all about."

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University’s academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

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