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The Visiting Room Project Symposium

Thursday, September 28, 2023
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Inquest is excited to partner with The Visiting Room Project for a day of in-person activities about life-without-parole sentences and the struggle to end mass incarceration. A full list of activities can be found below, with links to register. Registration is free, but space will be limited.

The Visiting Room Project is the largest collection of video interviews with men serving life-without-parole sentences in the world. All of these interviews were filmed in Louisiana’s Angola Prison. Following the election of a progressive DA in New Orleans, who created a Civil Rights Division, and a governor who has commuted more than 150 life-without-parole sentences, some of the men who were interviewed for the project have been able to return home. They will be joining us at Harvard alongside The Visiting Room Project team members. Click here to read bios of all of the presenters.

The symposium is hosted by Inquest and the Institute to End Mass Incarceration and made possible by generous support from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics, the Hutchins Center’s Institute on Policing, Incarceration & Public Safety, and the Phillips Brooks House Association.


Registration is free but required, as space will be limited.
All events are open to the public. Harvard buildings require keycard access, but someone will be on hand to let attendees into buildings.


8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Location: WCC 2012, Harvard Law School (NOTE THAT THIS IS A CHANGE OF VENUE!)
A breakfast conversation focused on prison education programs and the power of education for incarcerated people. Light breakfast will be provided.

12:15 p.m – 1:15 p.m.
Location: Austin Hall 101 East, Harvard Law School (NOTE THAT THIS IS A CHANGE OF VENUE!)
Legal strategies for how to help people who are incarcerated are rarely taught in law schools. The greatest experts in this field of law are incarcerated people themselves, who often teach themselves the law so they can pursue their own causes in court. This panel will present expert knowledge from formerly incarcerated people who became “jailhouse lawyers.” Cohosted by the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project. Pizza lunch will be provided.

4:15 p.m.–5:45 p.m.
Location: Phillips Brooks House, Harvard Yard
An informal conversation with The Visiting Room Project filmmakers and film subjects, geared toward students but open to anyone, discussing ways that people can get involved with the struggle to end mass incarceration, on campus and beyond, including via opportunities such as prison education. Hosted by the Phillips Brooks House Association. Light dinner will be served.

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Location: Austin Hall 100, Harvard Law School
The Visiting Room Project filmmakers will screen a curated selection of their profiles of men incarcerated for decades in Louisiana’s Angola Prison on life-without-parole sentences. Three men profiled by the project, who were unexpectedly freed after its completion, will attend the screening in-person and participate afterward in a conversation with Inquest Editor-in-Chief Andrew Crespo about their experiences in Angola. The filmmakers will also engage in a dialogue about the ethics of filmmaking and the power of public art in decarceral struggle. The screening is cohosted by the HLS FiLM Society and the National Lawyers Guild – HLS Chapter. Dinner will be served.