The 15th Annual Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns:

Shasha 2016

The Role of the University in the Era of Mass Incarceration
October 14-15, 2016

With 2.25 million citizens behind bars, America incarcerates more people than any other country. The social and financial impact of this policy are spiraling out of control. For this year’s Shasha Seminar we will convene experts from across the country to examine the University’s role in this seemingly intractable problem and discuss paths forward.

Schedule | Speakers | Attendees

Registration for Shasha is now closed. For assistance, please contact

Keynote speaker:

Michael Romano '94 We are pleased to feature Michael Romano ‘94 as our keynote speaker. Michael teaches at Stanford Law School and is the Co-Founder and Director of the Stanford Justice Advocacy Project. He co-authored Proposition 36 which overturned key sections of California’s “Three Strikes” law and through the Justice Advocacy Project, helps to win the release of those convicted to life sentences under it. His current work also involves assisting the White House with President Obama’s initiative to grant clemency to nonviolent drug offenders and with law enforcement officials in California on police shootings.

Please join us on Friday to hear Michael speak about the scope and severity of our mass incarceration crisis and what the university’s roles and identities might be with regard to the carceral state. In addition to publishing scholarly and popular articles, Michael has been profiled in The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Economist and others. Most recently he was a subject of the PBS documentary The Return.

Concluding speech

Reginald BettsThe final speaker of the seminar will be noted poet, memoirist and author Reginald Dwayne Betts. Betts is the author of A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, Shahid Reads His Own Palm and Bastards of the Reagan Era. Incarcerated at age 16, Betts spent eight years behind bars where he completed high school and began writing. Upon release he completed his BA and MFA degrees and was recently awarded his JD from Yale Law School.

Betts has led educational programming and taught at Emerson College and he speaks widely on issues of incarceration and education. We welcome his talk on juvenile sentencing, non-discriminatory admissions policies and the redemptive power of education as a perfect cap to the weekend.

Art Exhibition

The seminar will feature an exhibit from the Community Partners in Action Prison Arts Program in Beckham Hall. Since 1978 the program has been providing visual arts classes to individuals incarcerated in Connecticut’s prisons. Additionally, the program regularly produces publications and exhibitions of incarcerated artists’ work. On display will be highlights of the Program’s permanent collection, exceptional pieces the Program has purchased from participating artists over the years.

Getting to Wesleyan


Hotel rooms have been reserved at the following locations. To receive the special event rate, please use the reference “Shasha” when booking your rooms:

The Inn at Middletown
70 Main Street
Middletown, Connecticut 06457
(860) 854-6300

Friday $185/night

Radisson Hotel Cromwell
100 Berlin Road
Cromwell, CT 06416
(860) 635-2000


The Shasha Seminar is an educational forum for Wesleyan alumni, parents, and friends that provides an opportunity to explore issues of global concern in a small seminar environment. Endowed by James Shasha ’50, P’82, the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns supports lifelong learning and encourages participants to expand their knowledge and perspectives on significant issues.