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Episode 61 | Justice, Incarceration & Design, Pt. II

Deanna Van Buren and Raphael Sperry join us to discuss the architecture of incarceration, and how their respective work campaigns for reform.

Episode 61 | Justice, Incarceration & Design, Pt. II

About Deanna Van Buren and Designing Justice + Designing Spaces
Deanna Van Buren designs restorative justice centers that, instead of taking the punitive approach used by a system focused on mass incarceration, treat crime as a breach of relationships and justice as a process where all stakeholders come together to repair that breach. With help and ideas from incarcerated men and women, Van Buren is creating dynamic spaces that provide safe venues for dialogue and reconciliation; employment and job training; and social services to help keep people from entering the justice system in the first place. “Imagine a world without prisons,” Van Buren says. “And join me in creating all the things that we could build instead.”

Designing Justice + Designing Spaces is a U.S. non-profit that engages and designs around issues of mass incarceration. Founded by Deanna Van Buren and Kyle Rawlins, the organization is inspired by the idea of ‘restorative justice’ – the philosophy that when a crime has been committed, our priorities should center on making amends and healing, rather than punishment.

Much of the architectural apparatus within our communities and our criminal justice system are organized around punitive models of justice – the belief once a crime has been committed, the offender must be removed from society and that confinement will act as a deterrent against future crimes. High rates of recidivism strongly suggest that this model has failed.

About Raphael Sperry and and Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility
Raphael Sperry is an architect based in San Francisco who heads Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, a nonprofit group that advocates for socially responsible design. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects and a Soros Justice Fellow . Sperry recently advocated that the AIA (American Institute of Architects) add specific language to its code of ethics that would prohibit the design of torture chambers in U.S. prisons and around the world.

Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) is a U.S. based non-profit founded in 1981 dedicated to peace, environmental protection and socially responsible development. ADPSR was first established to promote nuclear disarmament and correct the imbalances caused by military excesses overshadowing domestic needs. Throughout the 1980s, the non-profit initiated numerous peace projects including peace parks, conferences, exhibits, and citizen diplomacy exchange programs with the former Soviet Union. It now counts hundreds of members from across all design professions and remains a constant agitator for a more humane practice of design.


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our theme music for 2018 is "Alright With Me" by Reggie Young from his album "Young Street." The break music is "Justice's Groove" by Stanley Clarke from his album "At The Movies."