Memorial Tribute


 David Curry 1949 - 2015
Dave Curry David Curry, Ph.D Few people at the University of Missouri-St. Louis knew that respected criminology professor David Curry had been sentenced to 34 years in prison on federal drug charges. Or that, years later, he had been granted a rare presidential pardon. His boss and some other faculty at UMSL were aware of his 1982 conviction in Alabama. Others on campus knew him only as a soft-spoken professor who was internationally known for his research into gang violence in St. Louis and elsewhere.

"Dave was a big dog," said Robert J. Bursik Jr., a colleague at UMSL. Professor Curry died last month at age 66. He called himself a "convict-criminologist."

Glen David Curry grew up poor, the son of a coal miner in West Virginia. His father found abandoned homes in which his family could live while he drove around looking for work. They moved so much that Professor Curry never finished his last year of high school. But with sky-high test scores, he got into the University of Mississippi, where he earned a master's degree with an ROTC scholarship.

He was drafted and sent to Vietnam as an intelligence officer during the war. He was promoted to captain but never got to wear his bars. Disguised as a civilian, he slept with a loaded .38-caliber pistol under his pillow. His job was to target enemy agents for assassination.

He returned to the U.S. with what he later learned was post-traumatic stress syndrome. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Chicago, then took a job teaching at the University of South Alabama in Mobile.

By then, he was speaking out against the war. He served as a state coordinator of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He became a regular expert witness for the local NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

His criminal conviction came about while he was counseling other Vietnam veterans at an outreach center in Mobile. An undercover detective for the Alabama Bureau of Investigation testified that Professor Curry was a regular supplier of cocaine for other veterans. A jury found him guilty on two of three counts of distribution, plus conspiracy to distribute, and one count of using a telephone to facilitate a felony.

The amount of cocaine was small: 6.2 grams. But a federal judge sentenced him to consecutive sentences totaling 34 years. "The sentences were obviously political punishment for being vets against the war," Professor Curry later wrote.

He was sent to prison and exhausted most of his appeals. Then came an unexpected break: The judge resentenced Professor Curry to five years in prison plus six years special probation and another six years regular probation - again, to run consecutively.

That's when Professor Curry learned that the high school education he never finished would expedite his release from prison. It didn't matter that he had a Ph.D. So he took classes for his GED and passed the test in a prison cafeteria.

He was released to the custody of a professor at the University of Chicago, where he did post-doctoral work and finished his first book, "Sunshine Patriots." It's an academic book about Vietnam and draft evaders.

He got an offer as interim lecturer at a college. But when the higher-ups learned of his criminal record, he was told to withdraw his application.

In 1994, Scott Decker hired him to teach at UMSL. "He told me when we started to recruit him that he had been to federal prison," recalled Decker, then chairman of the criminology department. He now teaches at Arizona State University in Phoenix.

Decker told his boss and they hired Professor Curry to teach statistics and mathematics. "He was one of those rare people who really knew it but also could teach it," Decker said.

In 1999, Professor Curry got another break when, as he later wrote, the undercover cop who had sent him to prison "helped me by morphing from lying drug user to convicted murder... I applied for a Presidential Pardon in 2000."

He got help from a cousin, a former government official who knew the pardon process.

The president's pardon attorney notified Professor Curry that his case was being sent to the president's office. That led to Professor Curry worrying about how publicity would affect his then 8-year-old daughter. The attorney said he would try to avoid publicity. President Bill Clinton signed the pardon on Nov. 21, 2000. Professor Curry recounted how presidents traditionally pardon turkeys at that time of the year. "I was pardoned just before Thanksgiving with the other two turkeys," he wrote. Professor Curry retired from UMSL in 2011.

He died April 27, 2015, at his home in Mobile. He had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He also suffered from Parkinson's disease and hepatitis C, a disease many Vietnam War vets believe they contracted from inoculations or blood transfusions.

His body was cremated; friends and family hope to have a celebration in St. Louis of his life.

Survivors include his wife of 26 years, Janet Bonham Curry of Bel Nor; his daughter, Zoe Michaela Curry of Bel Nor; a brother, Steven Curry of Princeton, W.Va.; a sister, Sharron Curry of Montgomery, Ala.; and his first wife, Janette Curry of Mobile.

Source: 2015


 Elizabeth (Liz) Elliott 1957 - 2011
Liz Elliott Elizabeth (Liz) Elliott, M.S.W., Ph.D was an Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at the School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. She was actively engaged in prisons and in restorative justice since 1981, first as a community-based social worker (1981-1986), then as a lecturer for the Prison Education Program in B.C. federal prisons (1988-1991) and most recently as a professor. Elliott lectured, presented and published in the areas of restorative justice, prisons and criminological theory. She was the co-editor of the recently published New Directions in Restorative Justice (Willan, 2005), had written several book chapters and journal articles on restorative justice or prison, and was a founding editor (1988) of the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons (University of Ottawa Press), and was an editorial board member for the journal, Contemporary Justice Review (Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group). She was a board member of the Canadian prisoner aid organization the John Howard Society of the Fraser Valley (B.C.) and the West Coast Prison Justice Society (Prisoners' Legal Services), and was a regular member of the restorative justice group FAVOUR, which continues to meet weekly in Ferndale Institution (federal minimum security prison).

Source: Simon Fraser University Burnaby, British Columbia; Center for Restorative Justice - (edited)


 John Irwin 1929 - 2010
John Irwin - Photo by Anne Irwin John Irwin, Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University (SFSU), passed away January 3, 2010. After a conviction for armed robbery and serving a five year sentence in California's prison system, he received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1968.

Irwin taught Sociology and Criminology at SFSU for 27 years. In prison he discovered that deviants and convicts were mostly ordinary human beings. This insight, not entirely appreciated by many academics who study crime and criminals, guided all of his academic and political activities. His considerable research on prisons included six books. The first four books, The Felon, Prisons in Turmoil, The Jail, and It's About Time: America's Imprisonment Binge (with James Austin), are already considered to be classics. His most recent books, The Warehouse Prison, and Lifers: Seeking Redemption in Prison have also been well received by the academic and policy community. He was also one of the contributing authors to the American Friends Service Committee's influential report Struggle for Justice: A Report on Crime and Punishment in America.

While Irwin has contributed to many community programs over the years, he is best known for creating Project Rebound at SFSU in 1967. Project Rebound is a program that provides comprehensive support for ex-convicts to enter and complete degrees at SFSU. Over the last 40 years, many Project Rebound students have obtained BA, MA, and PhD degrees in various disciplines. As an organizer and leader of the Prisoners' Union in California, he worked closely with the California legislature on the Uniform Sentencing Act passed in 1976. He received the August Vollmer award from the American Society of Criminology (ASC) for outstanding contributions to criminal justice. John also served on the Board of Directors for the JFA Institute and the Sentencing Project.

John was one of the founding members of the Convict Criminology Theoretical Perspective. John has been a friend, mentor, and inspiration to many people in the Convict Criminology Group. He has been instrumental in helping many ex-convicts and non-convicts in their careers.

John helped begin Convict Criminology in the 1990s. He said it has always been his dream to have a group of ex-convict academics to write together. But there were so few, until the war on drugs and the dramatic growth in prison populations that occurred in the 1980's and 1990's. Since our very first Convict Criminology Session at ASC in 1997, John has participated in nearly every session. This has included as many as six and seven sessions the last few years. He came to ASC to see the cons and prisoner rights advocates, to help our group grow and prosper. Personally, we found his wise counsel and sincere friendship to be invaluable. Each time we introduced John to a new member of the group he would spend time with him or her. John recognized that each of the ex-con graduate students and new PhDs was a small miracle.

John, we will miss you...

Submitted by Stephen C. Richards, Jeffrey Ian Ross, and Bob Grigsby
January 5, 2010

 Thomas Joseph Bernard 1945 - 2009
Thomas Joseph Bernard - Photo by Centre Daily Times Thomas Joseph Bernard died Tuesday, July 28, 2009 in State College, after returning from a week's vacation at a North Carolina beach where he and his loving family celebrated his 64th birthday and his life.

Tom was born on July 23, 1945 in Springfield, Illinois. He was the son of Edward Lawrence Bernard and Frances Joan McEvoy Bernard, who predeceased him, and was the second of five children. He attended Blessed Sacrament Grade School and Griffin High School, and received his B.A. in Mathematics at the University of Notre Dame in 1968. In 1975 Tom received his M.S. in Administration of Justice at Southern Illinois University and in 1981 he received his Ph.D. in Criminal Justice at The State University of New York at Albany.

Thirty-four years ago on June 15, 1975 he married the love of his life and his stalwart advocate, Wendy J. Moran. Tom was a Professor of Criminal Justice and Sociology at The Pennsylvania State University. He authored many scholarly books and articles including Vold's Theoretical Criminology; Consensus Conflict Debate: Form and Content in Social Theories; and Cycle of Juvenile Justice. He also was proud to serve as editor or co-author on books such as Behind a Convict's Eyes: Doing Time in a Modern Prison; Life for a Life: Life Imprisonment, America's Other Death Penalty; Prison, Inc.: A Convict Exposes Life Inside a Private Prison; and others.

With his lifelong commitment to service, Tom was active at University Baptist and Brethren Church and volunteered at Camp Blue Diamond up until May of this year. He also volunteered at the Obama Presidential campaign and on work-service projects in Honduras. He was an avid fan of Penn State's Essence of Joy choir, and an ongoing member of both Essence 2 choir and UBBC choir. Tom was thrilled to travel in a music ministry to South Africa in 2005 with Essence of Joy, and in 2008 to participate in a cultural exchange in South Africa with Voices of Joy.

Tom is survived by his spouse, Wendy J. Moran and two sons: Evan Francis Bernard Moran and his spouse Laura M. Savino of Redmond, WA; and Brian Edward Moran-Bernard of Harleysville, Pa. He is also survived by his brother and two sisters: George E. Bernard of South Bend, IN; Catherine A. Bernard and spouse William Sandberg of Takoma Park, Md.; and Mary Bernard Magrinat and spouse Gustav C. Magrinat of Greensboro, N.C. He was predeceased by his brother, Edward L Bernard, Jr. In addition he is survived by his beloved nieces, nephews, and family friend: Thomas E. Magrinat and spouse Amy and their children Walker and Aubrey; Claire, Julia, and Alexander Sandberg-Bernard; and Linda Harris Holsapple.

Tom was initially diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease in 1969, and was told that he had little chance of living out the year. He overcame this to live a full and wonderful life with appreciation for each new day. In May, when he learned the lung cancer caused by his Hodgkin's treatment of years ago would take his life, he named his cancer-care website "Luckiest Man Alive". He explained his outlook in a 1997 article called "A Sunny Day in Carbondale" where he wrote of his previous confrontation with death: "I had a ferocious appetite for life. I wanted happiness, love, fulfillment, joy, contentment, pleasure, accomplishment, and satisfaction. But I also wanted sorrow and pain, loneliness, and grief, frustration and anger and failure, bitterness and regret and even despair. I wanted it all. And that's what I got." Published in Centre Daily Times from July 30 to July 31, 2009

 Victor Hassine 1956 - 2008
Victor Hassine - Photo by Centre Daily Times Victor Hassine was a prisoner for over 20 years in the Pennsylvania State Prison System. He is the author of Life without Parole: Living in Prison Today which documents some stories of prison life, interviews with other prisoners and some short essays about his personal views of prison and the criminal Justice system in the United States.

His book, which is currently in its fourth edition, is used by many sociology and criminal justice professors to help teach American justice and social control. Hassine, an intellectual who graduated from Dickinson College and New York Law School, offered a rare and intelligent insider's look at life in an American prison, including achievements and failures in the criminal justice system. Hassine's writings have been favorably reviewed by the New York Times and have garnered many awards, including two prestigious Pen American Awards in 1991 and 1992 for non-fiction writing. He also wrote poetry about prison life published in an Anthology of Prison Writings, The Crying Wall, published by Willow Tree Press in 2005.

On April 27, 2008, Victor Hassine died while in prison in Pennsylvania under unusual circumstances. An outspoken advocate for prison reform, the cause of his death is presently under investigation by prison authorities and private investigators, though it appears that he hanged himself according to a memo prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections April 28, 2008. Victor Hassine. (2009, December 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:58, January 8, 2010, from