playlist

Life in—and after—prison

More than 2.3 million people in the United States are in prison or jail. Here, talks that speak to the experience of life behind bars—and different perspectives on what can make it a rehabilitating experience.

  1. 8:48
    Angela Patton A father-daughter dance ... in prison

    At Camp Diva, Angela Patton works to help young girls and their fathers stay connected and become part of each others' lives. But what about girls whose fathers can't be there — because they're in jail? Patton tells the story of a very special father-daughter dance.

  2. 3:50
    Damon Horowitz Philosophy in prison

    Damon Horowitz teaches philosophy through the Prison University Project, bringing college-level classes to inmates of San Quentin State Prison. In this powerful short talk, he tells the story of an encounter with right and wrong that quickly gets personal.

  3. 12:00
    Shaka Senghor Why your worst deeds don’t define you

    In 1991, Shaka Senghor shot and killed a man. He was, he says, "a drug dealer with a quick temper and a semi-automatic pistol." Jailed for second degree murder, that could very well have been the end of the story. But it wasn't. Instead, it was the beginning of a years-long journey to redemption, one with humbling and sobering lessons for us all.

  4. 9:36
    The Lady Lifers A moving song from women in prison for life

    The ten women in this chorus have all been sentenced to life in prison. They share a moving song about their experiences — one that reveals their hopes, regrets and fears. "I'm not an angel," sings one, "but I'm not the devil." Filmed at an independent TEDx event inside Muncy State Prison, it's a rare and poignant look inside the world of people imprisoned with no hope of parole. (Note: The prison's Office of Victim Advocacy has ensured that victims were treated fairly and respectfully around this TEDx event.)

  5. 23:41
    Bryan Stevenson We need to talk about an injustice

    In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America's justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country's black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America's unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.

  6. 10:32
    Dan Pacholke How prisons can help inmates live meaningful lives

    In the United States, the agencies that govern prisons are often called 'Department of Corrections.' And yet, their focus is on containing and controlling inmates. Dan Pacholke, Deputy Secretary for the Washington State Department of Corrections, shares a different vision: of prisons that provide humane living conditions as well as opportunities for meaningful work and learning.

  7. 5:07
    Nalini Nadkarni Life science in prison

    Nalini Nadkarni challenges our perspective on trees and prisons — she says both can be more dynamic than we think. Through a partnership with the state of Washington, she brings science classes and conservation programs to inmates, with unexpected results.

  8. 5:00
    Jeff Smith Lessons in business ... from prison

    Jeff Smith spent a year in prison. But what he discovered inside wasn't what he expected — he saw in his fellow inmates boundless ingenuity and business savvy. He asks: Why don't we tap this entrepreneurial potential to help ex-prisoners contribute to society once they're back outside? (From the TED Talent Search event TED@NewYork.)

  9. 14:35
    Daniel Reisel The neuroscience of restorative justice

    Daniel Reisel studies the brains of criminal psychopaths (and mice). And he asks a big question: Instead of warehousing these criminals, shouldn't we be using what we know about the brain to help them rehabilitate? Put another way: If the brain can grow new neural pathways after an injury ... could we help the brain re-grow morality?