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A&S student spends summer researching criminal justice abuses

By: Yvette Lisa Ndlovu,  A&S Communications
Mon, 06/18/2018

After studying the criminal justice system and hearing the experiences of incarcerated family and friends, Benjamin Finegan ‘19, a government major, decided to spend his summer interning at The Urban Justice Center for the Corrections Accountability project (CAP) in New York City.

“The most abhorrent human and civil rights violations in the United States occur in jails and prisons,” Finegan said. “Incarcerated people are physically and mentally abused with impunity, subjected to the cruel and unusual punishment of solitary confinement, given inhumane levels of nutrition and healthcare and deprived of their ability to communicate with their families and the outside world.”

The Accountability Project uses research, public education and political action to address what it says is the commercialization of the criminal justice system.

“This approach is particularly compelling to me because it focuses on ending one of the root causes of mass incarceration, as opposed to the symptoms,” Finegan said.

Finegan works directly with the founder and director of the project. His duties include conducting research, authoring blog posts and op-eds and assisting with advocacy campaigns, as well as visiting prisons to work with the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated.

Finegan hopes that through working with CAP he will learn more about criminal justice reform in the field and continue this work after graduation.  

“I am convinced that the dismantling of the carceral state is one of the most important problems of our time,” Finegan said.