The Justice Center recently hosted an event featuring The Visiting Room Project, a digital experience that invites the public to sit face-to-face with people serving life without the possibility of parole and hear them tell their stories. More than five years in the making, the project’s collection contains more than 100 filmed interviews with people currently serving life without parole at Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary.
The event began with a 30-minute screening of several compiled interviews from The Visiting Room Project, followed by a panel discussion featuring people who were interviewed by the project and are now free: Arthur Carter, Terry Pierce, Archie Tyner, and Daryl Waters. Marcus Kondkar, one of the creators of the project and chair of the Sociology Department at Loyola University New Orleans, explained the project’s genesis and introduced the panelists. Rhiannon Hamam, supervising attorney with the Mithoff Pro Bono Program who spearheaded the event, moderated the panel discussion.
“The Visiting Room Project provides unique insights into the lives and stories of people who are directly impacted by the laws and legal systems our students are learning about while in law school. It’s important for future lawyers to hear from non-lawyers about their experiences with these systems in order to expand law students’ understanding of—and motivate their commitment to—their future clients,” said Hamam. “The formerly incarcerated ambassadors from the project are powerful advocates in their own right, and I hope that law students were inspired by their stories, perspectives, and advice.”
“The Justice Center was honored to host The Visiting Room Project co-founder and ambassadors,” said Nicole Simmons, director of the Justice Center. “I’m grateful to Rhiannon Hamam for her leadership in orchestrating this impactful event.”