Incarceration Nation at Eastern Kentucky University

As students journeyed to class throughout this past spring semester at Eastern Kentucky University, they were greeted with blossoming flowers, and sprouting trees. EKU is commonly referred to as “The Campus Beautiful” and it truly lives up to that name. 

EKU LogoHowever, there is something about EKU that many of our fellow students were unaware of: Whether it be a stroll to class or a peaceful nap in the Ravine,EKU students are surrounded by criminals. The Young Americans for Liberty at Eastern Kentucky University sought to bring awareness to this fact during our 2015 Spring semester.

Greetings all, I am Dustin Isaacs. I have very recently been elected to the position of President of our YAL chapter here at Eastern. It’s an absolute pleasure to join all of you fellow lovers of liberty. I would like to inform everyone about our chapters Incarceration Nation efforts here at EKU.

The Young Americans for Liberty at EKU began preparing for this event by inviting Sabrina Butler from the ACLU’s “Witness to Innocence Tour” to share her story with students.

We promoted her arrival by getting information posted on the EKU webpage as well as in the Eastern Progress newspaper:

Sabrina Butler speaks at EKU

Eastern Progress

Her visit drew more than 70 students; many of which were engaged and asked thought provoking questions. One key to success we found was asking professors to alert students of the event and requesting they offer extra credit. Throughout her speech it was clear to see that some students were shocked by her stories. We provided our guests with pizza and refreshments (After sending a member to buy more when turnout was twice what we expected!) and gathered their contact information. Information that was later used to promote our next general meeting.

Butler Speech

Other aspects of the EKU Incarceration Nation involved our homemade prison bars, which were made from the instructions available from YAL National.

Prison bars

Our chapter members stationed our table at Powell Corner, a location with the highest volume of student traffic. As students neared our location we made sure to step into their line of sight and ask, “Excuse me, are you a criminal?” 

This method often ensured a response, typically of intrigue or utter denial. We asked students follow up questions, such as “Have you ever smoked marijuana?” or “Have you ever drank alcohol under the age of 21?” Many students answered yes to at least one of the questions and sometimes to all. It was clear that EKU is full of criminals.

tabling 2

We wanted each student we spoke with to leave better informed about our criminal justice system. We garnered well over 150 sign ups after three days of tabling and at our next informational meeting we had seven new faces and many more contacts from interested students.

Another fun aspect of the project was our incorporation of “man on the street” interviews. We walked around campus seeking students to stop and speak with us for a moment about the Criminal Justice system. We had such a good time talking to students we did it for three days. The video we captured involved students looking into the camera and saying “I’m a criminal.”

Overall our event was a tremendous success for liberty at EKU and we had a great time doing it. The enthusiasm was high from all members and we worked together well to make sure that everything went smoothly. It was a team effort and I am appreciative of each and every member of my team!

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