September 11, 2017, BY Mike Ferlazzo

Bucknell students ask question of panelists at the Mass Story Lab.
Bucknell student Collin Mills '21 asks a question of the panelists at the Mass Story Lab. Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

Bucknell students, faculty and community guests gained new insight into life behind bars through stories told by people who have been directly impacted by incarceration during Mass Story Lab, held Sept. 6 in Larison Hall.

Mass Story Lab was designed by storyteller, educator and cultural organizer Piper Anderson, who led the night's participatory discussion. The night's theme, "Mental Health and Mass Incarceration," was particularly meaningful to the students and faculty who have read Just Mercy by lawyer Bryan Stevenson, this year's first-year common reading. The true story calls on the need to fix the country's broken system of justice.

During the program, the audience heard stories by three former prisoners, the mother of a former inmate, and a father whose son was murdered and who now conducts a prison ministry. Anderson then invited the panelists to join small group discussions designed to envision a future beyond prisons.

Chris (left), the mother of a formerly incarcerated son, speaks with Piper Anderson, creator of Mass Story Lab. Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

Bucknell psychology major Katie Carroll '19 found herself seated near Trevor, who served 10 years in prison after being incarcerated at age 17 for attempted murder. He's now been out for more than a year.

"For somebody with no personal relationship with someone who's been incarcerated, this is an opportunity to learn what it's like to be incarcerated, and as a student, that's very important to me," Carroll said.

The event was co-sponsored by the Lewisburg Prison Project and Bucknell University's Office of the Provost; Center for Social Science Research; Social Justice Residential College; Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Gender; The Griot Institute for Africana Studies; The Office of Civic Engagement; Managing for Sustainability Program; Writing Center; and the departments of philosophy, political science, geography, and sociology & anthropology.