UW News

April 6, 2006

‘Green Jobs, Not Jails’ is title of lecture April 13

Attorney and human rights activist Van Jones will present his vision of Green Jobs, Not Jails at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 13 in 110 Kane.

Jones is the founder and executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. The talk is part of the “Public Rhetorics and Permanent War” series, sponsored by the Simpson Center for the Humanities and the Ethnic Cultural Center.

One of the primary factors contributing to high crime and incarceration rates, Jones says, is the shortage of living-wage jobs in urban America. Moreover, he says, the available jobs rarely contribute to, and often damage, the environmental health of the community. Thus, the same neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by police abuse, incarceration, crime and unemployment often suffer from the most insidious examples of institutionalized environmental racism and degradation.

Jones’s lecture will discuss the intersection of the growing “prison-industrial complex” that preys upon low-income communities of color with its reliance on decreasing public investment in education and the proliferation of disproportionate environmental hazards facing these communities.

“I will offer a practical and conceptual strategy designed to help construct a green economy with the power to lift people out of poverty while respecting and repairing the environment,” Jones says.

Born in rural west Tennessee, Jones completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee at Martin and his law degree at Yale University. He has worked with a variety of well-known organizations and initiatives in the social justice and environmental arenas.The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, headquartered in Oakland, Calif., is helping to lead the national fight for alternatives to the U.S. incarceration industry.  The talk is free and open to the public.