News Releases

ICOPA International Conference on Penal Abolition

For Release Upon Receipt - June 11, 2012

St. Augustine

The Institute of International Relations (IIR), The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, will host the “14th International Conference on Penal Abolition” from June 12th to 15th 2012. As the country marks its 50th year of independence, the conference, held for the first time in Trinidad & Tobago, presents an ideal time to re-think institutions, examine assumptions, and explore new ideas on developing a just society. 

Penal Abolition refers to the rejection of the current global system of punishment and incarceration for crimes against the state. At this conference, academics, prisoners, members of the Youth Training Centre (YTC), police, prison and tertiary students will, for the first time, have the opportunity to sit with activists and practitioners, judges, magistrates, attorneys and NGO's, to re-consider the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago and internationally.  

The theme for this four-day conference is ‘Inspiring Abolition: Strengthening Ourselves for Local/Global Influence.’ The first day opens with a film introducing American approaches to abolition. On Wednesday, Professor Ruggiero will interrogate and reposition the concepts of justice law and punishment from a European perspective. On Thursday, Professor Hamblet will lead the session on conflict transformation and the shift from punitive measures to social measures in addressing crime.

On Friday, Director of the Prison Transformation Unit, Mr. Husbands, will end the conference by discussing steps toward transformation to a just society.

The sessions will be held at The IIR Boardroom, The Learning Resource Centre (LRC) at The UWI, St. Augustine Campus and at the Conference Centre, the Trinidad & Tobago Prison Training Academy, Tumpuna Road South, Bandoo Trace, Arouca. At the Tumpuna Road session, current prisoners will be encouraged to participate through videos, Skype and written contributions. 

Keynote speakers at this year’s ICOPA conference will be Professor Vincenzo Ruggiero, Professor of Sociology at the Middlesex University in London and Professor Hal Pepinsky, Professor of Criminal Justice at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Participants at the Conference include academics, community activists, government ministers, students, former prisoners, NGOs, members of the judiciary, and others. Interested persons can register at or on the day of the conference.

For further information, visit the conference website at or contact Dr. Anthony Gonzales at or or at (868) 662-2002 Ext 82011.

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About UWI

Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)