LEWISTON — The 2018-19 season of the Great Falls Forum kicks off Thursday, with Joseph Jackson, coordinator of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition and program coordinator with Maine Inside Out.

His talk is titled “Prison Reform in Maine, and the Need for Those with Lived Experience to Lead the Discussion.” It will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in Callahan Hall at the Lewiston Public Library.

Jackson spent two decades as a prisoner within the Maine Department of Corrections. In 1996 he was sentenced to 30 years on a charge of manslaughter in the Lewiston shooting death of a New York man. He served 19 years.

At the time of his sentencing, Jackson, who was living in Lewiston, expressed sorrow for the death of the victim and said he shot in self-defense.

As a prisoner, Jackson completed the programs Literacy Volunteer Training, Peer Education, Work-Ready Alternatives to Violence One, Two and Three. He is a founder of the Maine State Prison Chapter of the NAACP and served on its executive committee in several capacities from 2003-2012.

While incarcerated, Jackson earned his associate and bachelor’s degrees with summa cum laude honors from the University of Southern Maine in Augusta.


In 2012, he was selected as a member of Who’s Who among students in colleges and universities. Jackson is the first person in Maine to be selected to a graduate program while still a prisoner. He recently earned his master’s degree from the University of Southern Maine and was one of four commencement speakers for his class.

Jackson was published in the online news site Village Soup in 2003 and 2004. His poetry was featured in Portland and Bangor’s NAACP Martin Luther King Breakfast catalogs from 2005-2012. Jackson’s poem “Brighter Days” was published in The UMA Scholar in 2012, his poetry was featured in the Bangor Daily News in 2014, and in 2016 he released his master’s thesis, “Black In Maine.”

In his Great Falls Forum presentation, Jackson will discuss the current state of Maine’s system of punishment as state-sanctioned trauma for adults and youth. He proposes that the Department of Corrections has failed in its mission to protect the public by failing to prepare prisoners for responsible re-entry.

The Forum series features statewide and regional leaders in public policy, business, academia and the arts. The programs are free, open to all and no reservations are required.

Coffee, tea and bottled water are provided for a donation. Attendees are welcome to bring a brown-bag lunch.

The Forum co-sponsored by the Sun Journal, Bates College, Maple Way Dental Care and Lewiston Public Library.

For more information, contact the library’s Adult and Teen Services at 207-513-3135 or lplreference@gmail.com.

Joseph Jackson

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