University of Rochester

EVENT: Journalist To Discuss His Findings on U.S. 'Prison-Industrial Complex'

February 8, 2005

A journalist who has covered some of the world's most important stories over the past 25 years will discuss his investigation into the U.S. prison system at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, in 188 Gleason Hall on the University of Rochester's River Campus.

Alan Elsner, a senior national correspondent for Reuters news agency, has published a book on his findings titled Gates of Injustice, an expose of the violence, corruption, and politics that have put U.S. jails in crisis. Based on visits to institutions in a dozen states and interviews with inmates, lawyers, corrections officers, medical staff, family members, and religious volunteers, the book paints a terrifying picture of how prisons work.

Elsner traces how the United States, with two million people behind bars, came to incarcerate a quarter of the world's prison population and how a giant "prison-industrial complex" promotes imprisonment over other solutions. He describes how race-based gangs control institutions, how rape is an epidemic in prisons, and how inadequate medical care helps spread diseases into society outside jailhouse walls.

Since his first assignment—covering Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem in 1980—Elsner has reported on Margaret Thatcher's tenure as British prime minister, the bombing of an Air India passenger plane, the end of the Cold War, the reunification of Germany, the first Gulf War, and the September 11 attacks and their aftermath. His stories have been carried in major newspapers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Elsner's talk is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the College and is free and open to the public. For more information, contact (585) 273-5000.