Teresa Miller, Law Professor and Prison Reformer, Is Dead at 59

When Teresa Miller, a professor at the College at Buffalo College of Law, confirmed her documentary movie in regards to the Attica Correctional Facility throughout a panel dialogue at the Glimmerglass opera pageant in 2014, it sparked an concept. Why not, she thought, carry an opera to the jail?

Francesca Zambello, the director of the pageant, in Cooperstown, N.Y., had the identical notion and joined the hassle. Ms. Miller helped persuade jail officers to grant permission, and a yr later Glimmerglass took Verdi’s “Macbeth” to Attica. Opera there turned an annual custom, with Ms. Miller annually sitting amongst a rapt viewers of inmates to observe the manufacturing.

“It’s tradition we don’t see,” Donovan Jackson, an Attica inmate, instructed the information web site syracuse.com in 2017. “Ours is hostility and violence.”

Bringing the surface world behind jail partitions — and then displaying that exterior world what life behind bars is like — was a central a part of the legal justice work executed by Ms. Miller, who died at 59 on Aug. 6 at a hospital in Manhattan.

As a legislation professor at Buffalo for 19 years — she was later a high administrator for the State College of New York, of which Buffalo is a component, specializing in range points — she had made it a observe of getting her college students step exterior the classroom and into the penal system as a approach to humanize incarcerated individuals.

She reached a bigger viewers with two brief documentaries, most notably the 24-minute “Encountering Attica” (2009), which she produced and additionally directed with Tim Gera. The opposite, “4 Myths About Attica” (2011), which she additionally produced and directed, was made for a College at Buffalo convention she organized on the fortieth anniversary of the jail rebellion at Attica that left 43 individuals lifeless.

“Encountering Attica” reveals the interactions between three first-year legislation college students and 4 males serving life sentences, together with for homicide. Placing college students in dialog with inmates, Ms. Miller discovered, fostered empathy amongst each teams. (She was additionally an adviser to Attica inmates in search of parole.)

Ms. Miller first took college students to the jail in 2007. “Bringing a video digicam into a jail isn’t any small feat,” she wrote in a 2012 paper for the Journal of Authorized Schooling titled “Encountering Attica: Documentary Filmmaking as Pedagogical Instrument.” Acclimating college students was additionally a problem.

“For the typical legislation scholar,” she wrote, “strolling into the state correctional facility in Attica, New York, is a surprising transition into a very overseas tradition through which frequent family objects are prized, seemingly innocuous actions are forbidden, applied sciences the general public takes without any consideration are alien, and the sight of a tree trunk, grass, flowers are distant reminiscences.”

She added, “The video digicam has the potential to take away a number of the obstacles between the jail and society.”

Teresa Ann Miller was born on Feb. 20, 1962, at Fort Benning, Ga., the place her father, Billy G. Miller, was stationed. A lieutenant colonel within the Military, he was a helicopter pilot within the Vietnam Battle. Her mom, Henrietta Thomas Dabney, was an administrator at the College of North Carolina and later at Norfolk State College in Virginia. Ms. Miller grew up in each states. Via genealogical analysis, she later discovered {that a} relative is the civil rights lawyer Fred D. Grey, who had helped defend Rosa Parks.

Ms. Miller attended Booker T. Washington Excessive College in Norfolk, graduated from Duke College in 1983 with a bachelor’s diploma in psychology and went on to Harvard Law College, graduating in 1986. She then earned a grasp of legislation diploma from the College of Wisconsin at Madison.

Ms. Miller clerked for federal Decide William M. Hoeveler of the Southern District of Florida and taught at the College of Miami Law College.

She joined the Buffalo legislation faculty college in 1995 and in 2014 turned the primary vice provost for fairness and inclusion at the College at Buffalo. She continued to rise by way of SUNY’s ranks, changing into the system’s senior vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and chief range officer in 2018. In that position she instituted a program selling tenure-track professorships for individuals of colour throughout SUNY’s 64 campuses.

In her work on legal justice she was a member of an American Bar Affiliation job pressure on defending prisoners’ rights and served on the boards of the jail reform teams Prisoner Authorized Companies of New York and the Correctional Affiliation of New York.

Her daughter Seychelle Mikofsky stated Ms. Miller died of gallbladder most cancers.

Ms. Miller married Daniel Mikofsky, a human assets govt, in 1998. They separated in 2013. She can be survived by their two different youngsters, Miles and Croix; her associate, Paula DiPerna; her sisters Belinda Matingou, Janelle Jordan and Celinda Kibria; and her brother, Jason Miller.

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