Web Historical Disclaimer:

This is a historical page and is no longer maintained. Read our Web history statement for more information.


Schedule of Events
The program begins with a welcoming reception on Sunday evening, April 23 (tentatively at 5 p.m.). The substantive sessions will begin early Monday morning (April 24) and will run through Tuesday (April 25) at 5 p.m. If you choose to stay for the executive session working group, that meeting will take place all day on Wednesday (April 26). The tentative ending time for that session is 4 p.m.

On Monday and Tuesday, we will have luncheons hosted by the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum. There will also be a reception at the University of Texas Law School on Monday in the early evening immediately following the substantive sessions. Dinner will be on your own each night, and there are excellent restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the primary conference hotels.


Topics to be Discussed
The symposium agenda will feature a close look at international and domestic oversight models. The international models include the British Prison Inspectorate (an independent government body that routinely inspects all British prisons), the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (an international treaty body that inspects prisons in 45 European countries), the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman (an office that inspects prisons and reviews prisoner complaints), and Independent Monitoring Boards (civilian monitoring groups assigned to individual prison facilities in England). We will also examine external oversight models in the United States, such as Inspectors General, legislative oversight committees, monitoring by advocacy groups, commissions, appointed citizen boards, and accreditation audits.

The agenda will address the following topics:

  • Is transparency essential for the protection of human rights?
  • What are the differences between regulation, accreditation, audit, investigation, and inspection?
  • What does it mean to be “independent?”
  • What standards, if any, should apply during an inspection? How much uniformity should there be among existing standards?
  • Are prisons and jails similarly situated when it comes to oversight issues or are there different considerations that must be taken into account in designing oversight mechanisms?
  • Does “oversight” necessarily include the power to enforce recommendations?
  • Is it possible to maintain transparency without inviting liability?
  • What is the role of the media in helping make prisons transparent and accountable?
  • What would be effective oversight models for the U.S. as a whole? Should monitoring bodies be national, state, or local entities? Should they be branches of government, non-profit agencies, citizen groups, or something else?

Please continue to check back as the conference agenda develops.


Venue Information
Austin, Texas is the perfect venue for this event. It is an entertainment-filled destination, known as the “live music capital of the world,” and it is especially beautiful during the month of April, when wildflowers are in bloom and the weather is delightful. Home to the state Capitol and the flagship campus of the state university, Austin is a community used to intellectual debate and engagement with important issues of social policy.

University of Texas tower

University of Texas tower


LBJ Library and Museum

LBJ Library and Museum

The conference will be held at the Joe C. Thompson Conference Center, which is located adjacent to both the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum on the University of Texas campus. The LBJ Library and Museum, one of the nation’s most highly regarded presidential libraries, is well worth the time for a more extended visit than our luncheons will provide.

We will be providing transportation to and from the conference hotels to all of the conference events.

If you are staying at either of the primary conference hotels (The Driskill and the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental), it is neither desirable nor necessary to have a car. The hotels are located in the middle of the downtown business and entertainment district, and parking is very expensive.

If you are staying at the overflow conference hotel (The Doubletree Club Hotel), a car may be helpful, although it is not essential if you are willing to take a taxi to get to restaurants in the evening. Parking at the Doubletree is free and the hotel is within reasonable walking distance of the University. We will also provide transportation from this hotel to the conference venue.

If you have a car, free parking for the event is available in the Thompson Conference Center parking lot, located on Red River Street, near the intersection with E. Dean Keeton Street (26th Street). Map.