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Heather Ann Thompson
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Dr. Heather Ann Thompson is a native Detroiter and historian at Temple University who has written numerous popular as well as scholarly articles on the history of mass incarceration as well as its current impact. These include pieces for the New York Times, The Atlantic,, Dissent, and New Labor Forum, as well as the award-winning articles: “Why Mass Incarceration Matters: Rethinking Crisis, Decline and Transformation in Postwar American History” and “Rethinking Working Class Struggle through the Lens of the Carceral State: Toward a Labor History of Inmates and Guards. Thompson recently served on a National Academy of Sciences blue-ribbon panel that studied the causes and consequences of mass incarceration in the U.S. and serves as well on the boards of several policy organizations including the Prison Policy Initiative the Eastern State Penitentiary, a historic site, and on the advisory boards of Life of the Law. She also works in an advisory capacity with the Center for Community Change and the Open Society Foundation on issues related to work. On the scholarly front, Thompson recently was honored to be named a Distinguished Lecturer by the Organization of American Historians and, in addition to recently completing Blood in the Water: the Attica Prison uprising of 1971 for Pantheon books, Thompson is also the author of Whose Detroit: Politics, Labor and Race in a Modern American City as well as the edited collection, Speaking Out: Protest and Activism in the 1960s and 1970s. She has also consulted on several documentary films including Criminal Injustice at Attica. In 2015 Thompson joins the faculty at the University of Michigan.

Entries by Heather Ann Thompson

America's Real State of Emergency: Baltimore and Beyond

(10) Comments | Posted April 28, 2015 | 2:18 PM

As most Americans were sitting down to dinner Monday night, Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan was declaring a state of emergency in the city of Baltimore. Baltimore was burning, he explained, and nothing short of calling out the National Guard could now bring calm to Charm City. Mere minutes...

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Ferguson's Despair and the Devastation of White Privilege

(4) Comments | Posted November 30, 2014 | 5:34 PM

All day people gathered, waiting, daring to hope, that maybe this time black lives would matter. Minutes passed. Then hours. And, as darkness descended on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, the now enormous crowd continued to wait patiently -- trying its best to remain optimistic. Perhaps, despite so many decades...

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Violence in Post-Verdict Ferguson: What We Should Really Be Worried About

(141) Comments | Posted November 20, 2014 | 11:02 AM

Many reports out this week warn that if the grand jury sitting in the Darren Wilson case decides not to indict, there will likely be violence in Ferguson, Missouri. This, the media explains, is why Governor Jay Nixon has already declared a state of emergency. This...

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The Fury in Ferguson and Our Forgotten Lessons From History

(0) Comments | Posted August 18, 2014 | 10:22 PM

August 9, 2014, was a summer day that began like any other. It was hot and humid. Chores had to be done. Errands had to be run. For 18-year-old Michael Brown the day was also just normal. He was enjoying finally being done with high school. He was supposed to...

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Shame of the Nation: The Fight to Keep Children Locked Up for Life

(18) Comments | Posted August 6, 2014 | 11:15 AM

If 11-year-old Jordan Brown had yet had the opportunity in school to learn about the United Nations, it probably wouldn't have surprised him to also learn that the U.S. is one of only two nations on the globe that have refused to ratify the UN Convention on the...

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Redemption and the War on Drugs

(3) Comments | Posted July 25, 2014 | 2:31 PM

Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

I have never met Shaka Senghor, but I feel like I know him well -- at least the 19-year-old Detroiter that he used to be. When I graduated from the Detroit Public School system in...

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Dodging Decarceration: The Shell Game of 'Getting Smart' on Crime

(3) Comments | Posted July 9, 2014 | 5:31 PM

It has taken a long time, far too long, but politicians seem finally to have realized how catastrophically expensive it is for the United States to lock up more people than any other country on the planet. Although most had cared little about how much it would cost their districts...

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Rescuing America's Inner Cities? Detroit and the Perils of Private Policing

(4) Comments | Posted June 25, 2014 | 9:46 AM

When the film Blade Runner came out in 1982, and then Robocop hit theaters in 1987, movie watchers were strangely entertained by the dark visions of a dystopic future that they saw splashed across the screen before them. In both blockbusters, cities had become places where...

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