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Books for changing the world

June 11, 2024 at 7.00pm – 8.30pm


Witness: An Insider's Narrative of the Carceral State

Join Lyle C. May and Danielle Purifoy for a discussion of the new book: Witness: An Insider's Narrative of the Carceral State, followed by a Q&A with Lyle live from death row.



Join Lyle C. May and Danielle Purifoy for a discussion of the new book: Witness: An Insider's Narrative of the Carceral Statefollowed by a Q&A with Lyle live from death row.


In Witness, Lyle C. May offers a scathing critique of shifts in sentencing laws, prison policies that ensure recidivism, and classic "tough on crime" views that don't make society safer or prevent crime. These insightful and analytical essays explore capital punishment, life imprisonment, prison education, prison journalism, as well as what activism from inside looks like on the road toward abolishing the carceral state.

No outside journalist can adequately report what happens inside death row or what it is like to live through thirty-three executions of people you know. May's grounded writings in Witness challenge the myths, misconceptions, and misinformation about the criminal legal system and death in prison, guiding readers on a journey through North Carolina's congregate death row, where the author has spent over twenty years of his life.

***Register through Ticket Tailor to receive a link to the live-streamed video on the day of the event. This event will also be recorded and captioning will be provided.***



Lyle C. May is a prison journalist, abolitionist, and Ohio University Alum currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in sociology, with a criminology major. He is a member of the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society and the Author's Guild. Lyle's writings have appeared in Scalawag Magazine, Perspectives on PoliticsThe InterceptAmerica MagazineInside Higher Ed, and elsewhere. Lyle is also a coauthor of Inside: Voices from Death Row (Scuppernong Editions, 2022) and contributor to Right Here, Right Now: Life Stories from America's Death Row (Duke University Press, 2021). He routinely lectures to high school and university students, church groups, and community organizations on the politics, policies, and experiences of mass incarceration. As he pursues every legal avenue to overturn his wrongful conviction and death sentence, Lyle advocates for greater access to higher education in prison.

Danielle Purifoy, JD, Ph.D (she/they), is an assistant professor of Geography and Environment at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also serves as a faculty project lead for the UNC Environmental Justice Action Research Clinic. Danielle’s research intersects Geography, Law, Environmental Studies, and Black Studies to learn about Black placemaking practices from town formation to ecological stewardship. She is the former Race and Place editor of Scalawag, a media organization devoted to Southern storytelling, journalism, and the arts. You can find her work in Society and Space, Annals of the American Assocation of Geographers, Inside Higher Ed, Environmental Sociology, Scalawag, Southeastern Geographer, Southern Cultures, and Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, among other publications.