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Connections

Coming up on Connections: Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Gavel and scales of justice
Gavel and scales of justice

First hour: The Judicial Observation Project

Second hour: The Willard Suitcases Project

We talk with some of the people behind the newly launched Judicial Observation Project. It's a program designed to detect and address implicit bias and systemic racism in New York State's courts. Five judges and 14 trained observers have already signed on to the pilot program. We talk about the project's goals and how it will work with our guests:

  • Judge Melissa Barrett, co-chair of the Judicial Observation Project; Rochester City Court judge; acting Monroe County Court judge; and supervising judge for town and village courts in Monroe, Cayuga, and Wayne counties
  • Gary Domenico, co-chair of the United Christian Leadership Ministry's Core Team for planning, recruitment, and training for the Judicial Observation Project

Then in our second hour, 27 years ago, workers at a psychiatric center in the Finger Lakes made a remarkable discovery. Willard Psychiatric Center in Ovid opened in 1869; it was then called the Willard Asylum for the Insane. For more than 125 years, the staff cared for people with long-term mental illness. When it closed in 1995, workers discovered hundreds of suitcases belonging to former patients that appeared to be untouched since their arrival at the center. The finding was essentially a time capsule. Photographer Jon Crispin has captured the discovery in his "Willard Suitcases Project." He writes, "The suitcases and their contents bear witness to the rich, complex lives their owners lived prior to being committed to Willard. They speak about aspirations, accomplishments, community connections, but also about loss and isolation." Crispin's work is on view at St. John Fisher College. This hour, we explore what he has learned through his research, and we discuss life at Willard and how mental health care has changed over the century. Our guests:

  • Jon Crispin, photographer, and creator of the Willard Suitcases Project
  • Peg Ellsworth, historian, and former nurse at Willard Psychiatric Center
  • Ryan Thibodeau, professor of psychology at St. John Fisher College
Connections
Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.