The Searchlight Series

The Searchlight Series

Eastern State Penitentiary Presents
The Searchlight Series:
Conversations About Crime, Justice, and the American Prison System


Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site partners with nationally recognized penologists and educators to present an ongoing discussion series about crime, justice, and the American prison system. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required. The 2017 schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, January 3
Tuesday, February 7
Tuesday, March 7
Tuesday, April 4
Tuesday, May 2
Tuesday, June 6
Tuesday, July 11 (Note: The July event will take place the second Tuesday due to the Independence Day holiday.)
Tuesday, August 1
Tuesday, September 5
Tuesday, October 3
Tuesday, November 7
Tuesday, December 5

Discussion topics and speakers listed below. (Some topics TBD.) Click here for a list of last year's discussions.


Jeffrey C. Jones: Freeing the Incarcerated Mind

Jeffrey JonesTuesday, January 3, 6:00 - 7:00 pm
Free. No reservations required.

Racial disparity in the US prison system is a national crisis – one in every ten Black men is in prison or jail, and one in six Latino men can expect to go to prison in his lifetime. Jeffrey C. Jones will speak on how we can eliminate the stereotypes that have surrounded people of color for far too long and how to ensure success for boys and men of color.

Jeffrey C. Jones, an award winning and dynamic speaker, is the founder of Greater Days Ahead and works as Philadelphia Community Manager of BMe, a national network of people committed to build caring and prosperous communities inspired by Black men.

Dr. Keesha Middlemass: The New U.S. Attorney General and Federal Criminal Justice Policy

Keesha MiddlemassTuesday, February 7, 6:00 - 7:00 pm
Free. No reservations required.

With Senator Jeff Sessions nominated to be the new U.S. Attorney General, what changes in federal criminal justice policy should the nation expect? Dr. Keesha Middlemass leads a non-partisan discussion of Senator Sessions’ public comments and voting record, and explores three areas of possible change: federal electronic surveillance, drug enforcement and sentencing, and prosecution of human rights violators under U.S. immigration laws.

Keesha M. Middlemass, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She is author of Convicted & Condemned: The Politics and Policies of Prisoner Reentry, former American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow and a former Race, Crime and Justice Fellow at the Vera Institute of Justice.

Dr. Jill McCorkel: Why Orange Really Is the New Black: A Look Inside Women’s Prisons

Jill McCorkelTuesday, March 7, 6:00 - 7:00 pm
Free. No reservations required.

The U.S. is the global leader in women’s incarceration, locking up over a third of the world’s women prisoners. Dr. Jill McCorkel discusses her research to explore why this is the case and what the implications are for children and communities.

Dr. Jill McCorkel is Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology and a faculty associate of the Africana Studies Program at Villanova University. She is the author of the book Breaking Women: Gender, Race, and the New Politics of Imprisonment.

Nazgol Ghandnoosh: Want to End Mass Incarceration? Reform Life Sentences.

Tuesday, April 4, 6:00 - 7:00 pm
Nazgol GhandnooshFree. No reservations required.

In U.S. prisons, one in nine people is serving a life sentence. Bipartisan support for criminal justice reform is growing, but policymakers have yet to address a key driver of mass incarceration: long prison sentences for serious and violent offenses. Nazgol Ghandnoosh will explore how lawmakers have toughened parole policies and practices in recent decades.

Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D., is a research analyst at The Sentencing Project. Her work on racial disparities in the justice system, public opinion about punishment, and the scope of reform efforts has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and WNYC’s On the Media.

Jimmy Dolan, Chick Goodroe and Allen Hornblum: The K&A Gang and Eastern State Penitentiary

K&A GangTuesday, May 2, 6:00 - 7:00 pm
Free. No reservations required.

For more than a quarter-century, Kensington, a working-class neighborhood in Philadelphia, was home to the K&A Gang, who traveled from Bar Harbor to Boca Raton breaking into upscale homes. Most of the gang members eventually spent time at Eastern State Penitentiary. Author Allen Hornblum chronicled the gang in his book, Confessions of a Second Story Man. He will be joined by Jimmy Dolan and Chick Goodroe, former K&A Gang members, who will recount their experiences in the gang and their time at Eastern State Penitentiary.