Statement on Atlanta Public Safety Training Center

July 21, 2023
Photo by Christopher Alvarenga on Unsplash

Higher education can and must be a tool to end systems of power and oppression.

This statement lives on the homepage of the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison’s website for a reason. The things we learn - and the communities we build as we learn them - are tools for changing unjust social conditions.

This vital work requires partnership and collaboration with a wide variety of stakeholders: corrections, higher education, community-based organizations, state agencies, etc. The National Conference on Higher Education in Prison (NCHEP) is a space to bring these stakeholders to the table. The Alliance acknowledges the diversity of experiences and viewpoints represented by individuals in the field of higher education in prison. It is our aim to shape the NCHEP into a forum in which all people involved or interested in higher education in prison feel empowered to contribute. This underscores our commitments to inclusivity and discourse, valuing the unique perspectives that arise from varying backgrounds.

No group is a monolith. Despite the differences that exist amongst NCHEP attendees, we strive to cultivate a conference where difference does not mean distance. We believe it is possible to find common ground through a shared goal to expand and and improve higher education in prison, and we make this choice because millions of people are currently in prison.

We welcome discourse and debate relating to the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, coined “Cop City” by activists and organizers, at our conference. Members of our community have reached out with concerns about the conference location in Atlanta. We appreciate this feedback and we hope all will continue this dialogue. The conference location will not move. However, we encourage all who travel to participate in NCHEP to engage thoughtfully with the history, city, and community of Atlanta.

Please learn more about the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center (or "Cop City"). An NPR article from earlier this year provides a brief overview. We hope that your engagement will not stop there, but that you will continue to follow news updates and do your own research into the number of organizations, activists, and individuals who have been deeply involved in this issue.