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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

RIKERS: An American Jail

screening and panel discussion

rikers film poster

RIKERS: An American Jail
A Film by Bill Moyers
Screening and Panel Discussion 

Date: Monday, October 23, 2017
Location: Stokes Hall S195
Time: 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

The event is free and open to the public. RSVP encouraged

Featuring panelists Tom Lynes, Marina McCoy (Boston College), Stephen Pope (Boston College), and Joli Sparkman. Moderated by Erik Owens (Boston College).

To watch the film, please visit:

Co-sponsored with the Theology Department


A film by documentarian Bill Moyers, RIKERS: An American Jail offers a look inside one of America's most notorious prisons, through interviews with those men and women who have experienced it firsthand. What are we to do with the crisis happening behind the walls of the American prison, especially as those who teach and study at the intersection of religion and public life?

Boston College professors Marina McCoy and Stephen Pope will lead a panel discussion of the film, and its theological and social implications. Both McCoy and Pope have been long involved in local prison ministry and will be joined by Tom Lynes and Joli Sparkman, who will offer their own experiences in the Massachusetts Correctional System, as well as their perspectives on the documentary, the American system of mass incarceration, and the process of restorative justice. 

marina mccoy

Marina McCoy is an associate professor of philosophy at Boston College, specializing in ancient Greek philosophy. She also teaches in the PULSE program at Boston College. For the past 12 years, she has served as a volunteer with the lay Dominican group at MCI-Norfolk, a state prison.

professor stephen pope

Stephen J. Pope is a professor of theology at Boston College, focusing on social and theological ethics. A member of the Society of Christian Ethics and the Catholic Theological Society of America, he teaches in the Perspectives program, as well as courses on science and ethics, St. Thomas Aquinas and virtue. He is the author of Human Evolution and Christian Ethics and the editor of Solidarity and Hope: Jon Sobrino’s Challenge to Christian Theology. He received a B.A. from Gonzaga University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Joli Sparkman is the Reentry Coordinator at Bethany House, assisting individuals being released from jails and prisons to successfully reintegrate into the community by assisting them to receive community based services. She is a survivor of the Massachusetts Correctional System after serving 18 years in prison, as well as a survivor of experiences in the commercial sex trade as a child and adult. Because of her life experiences, Joli is able to relate to those who have gone through the same types of trauma. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Bethany House Ministries, Inc. and has been a certified peer supporter both inside of MCI Framingham Prison and outside since 2010. She graduated from Boston University in 2006 and is actively pursuing her LADC. Besides her work as the Reentry Coordinator for Bethany House, Joli is co-owner and operator of A Stitch in Time Textiles, a benefit corporation specifically designed to employ former incarcerated females and victims of human trafficking.

Tom Lynes was formerly incarcerated in the Massachusetts Correctional System, and now works as a plumbing specialist in Boston. He cherishes his relationship with his daughter and step-daughter, and lives to help any other human being in any way he can. 

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In the News

The Records Project, run by The Marshall Project, is a curated collection of some of the most gripping and dependable criminal justice journalism from across the internet. Check out their record on Rikers Island, and come watch and discuss "RIKERS: An American Jail" on October 23, hosted by the Boisi Center.