Pullman, Wash. — Central topics discussed in the year’s Common Reading book “Just Mercy” will be the topic of two Common Reading lectures this week.
The Washington State University Common Reading Program welcomes Spokane’s Jacqueline van Wormer to discuss “Reforming the criminal justice system: national and local efforts” at 4:30 p.m. Mon., March 7, in Todd 216. Dan LeBeau senior deputy prosecutor for Whitman County, will present “Juries and Criminal Justice” on Tuesday, March 8, at 7 p.m. in Todd 216. The lectures are free and open to the public.
The WSU Common Reading Program hosts expert guest lectures, film showings, and other events that explore the topics raised in this year’s chosen book, “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson. Since 2006, the common reading has stimulated academic discussions in first-year courses, classrooms, and beyond, touching the academic lives of thousands of WSU first-year and other students.
An assistant professor in the WSU Spokane Dept. of Criminal Justice and Criminology, van Wormer will describe her efforts leading criminal justice reforms in Spokane County. They advocate for health-based treatment for those in incarcerated due to mental-health and substance-abuse issues.
In 2009, Van Wormer was named the State of Washington’s inaugural “champion for change” for her work involving juvenile justice.
She delivers numerous presentations across the country on issues related to courts, addiction, treatment, and adolescent brain development. She researches drug courts’ focus on reducing instances of relapse among nonviolent, substance-abusing offenders, and has worked with dozens of drug-court teams to assist in the planning and operation of alternative models to traditional sentencing.
The following evening LeBeau will discuss another key aspect of the criminal justice system. Juries were key to many of the issues raised in “Just Mercy.” LeBeau will address jury selection and the role members play.
Karen Weathermon, WSU Common Reading Program Co-Director, WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-5488, firstname.lastname@example.org
Emma Epperly, Communications and Marketing Junior Assistant, WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-9458, email@example.com