Beyond the Bars 2016 Save the Date: March 4-6


There is a ticket for each day of the conference.  We ask that you please only register for the day(s) that you intend to come.  While we fully intend to acommodate everyone who registers, registration does not guarantee you a seat. Space at all events will be first come first seated for all registered attendees.



Beyond the Bars: Connecting the Struggles is the sixth annual student-driven interdisciplinary conference on mass incarceration held at Columbia University. Given the greater consciousness of mass incarceration in the US, this conference brings people from different spaces and places to dig deeper in the work of ending mass incarceration, building justice and engaging in action beyond the weekend.

This year’s conference, Connecting the Struggles, aims to connect the many ways in which mass incarceration has impacted individuals, families and communities across the U.S, and beyond, as well as build connections across diverse struggles for social justice.

Albert Einstein stated that imagination is more powerful than knowledge ––Our comrade and sister Angela Davis, challenged us to imagine a world without prison. Join us as we honor the spirit of the struggle – join in solidarity with impacted people, and with academics, activists, practitioners and community members as we continue to connect the struggles to eradicate mass incarceration and to build justice and equity.


FRIDAY NIGHT KICK-OFF EVENT (Doors at 6:45 – Event Starts at 7:30)

Angela Davis
Virtual remarks from Mumia Abu-Jamal and Alicia Garza
Panel discussion with Abraham Paulos, Cory Greene, Delaine Powerful and Danielle Sered, moderated by Michelle Fine
Performance from Impact Repertory Theatre
Hosted by Malik Yoba


Morning Plenaries (10 -1:15) 

The Roots of Mass incarceration and the History of Resistance to it (10 – 11:30)
Challenging Reform Efforts that Exclude People Convicted of Violent Offenses (11:45 – 1:15)

Lunch (1:15 – 2:15pm) 

Afternoon Panels (2:15 – 5:30pm) 

Block 1 (2:15-3:45pm) 

Deconstructing the Calls to End Mass Incarceration: Examining  Solutions, Strategies, Values, and Visions
Youth Activism: Mobilizing Communities for Social Change
Shaping Public Opinion: The Role of Journalism and Media in Defining Justice
Examining Surveillance and Technology in the Struggles for Justice
Mental Health: Across the Justice Continuum
Reducing the Number of People Incarcerated: Exploring Mechanisms and Strategies for Release
Ending State Violence Among Police and Corrections: Looking at Solutions
Equitable Access to Education Across the Carceral Continuum

Block 2

Electoral Politics and Legislative Reform: What’s Possible?
Solitary Confinement: An Area Where Efforts Have Made a Difference
Removing Barriers: Knowing, Enforcing, & Protecting Your Civil Rights After Justice System Involvement
Revisiting the 1996 Immigration Law: The Birth of Mass Deportations and Its Impact on Mass Incarceration
Responding to Violence Among Community Members:  Beyond Police and Incarceration
Arts and Activism: The impact That Cultural organizing Has on the Movement to End Mass
The Power of the Student: Organizing for Justice on the College Campus
Women on the Rise: Emerging as Leaders for Criminal Justice Reform
Challenging the Punishment Paradigm: International and Domestic Models for Justice and Accountability


Opening (11-11:30) 

Block 1 (11:30-1) 

How Social Workers are Connecting the Struggles
Methods Matter: Participatory Strategies for Planning, Action Research and Coalition Building
Mass Incarceration, Trauma, & Healing Strategies
The Mindful Activist
The Deal with Divestment: Organizing Prison Divestment in CUNY
We are All Prisoners
Abolishing THE BOX At The Neoliberal American University

Lunch (1-2)

Block 2 (2-3:30) 

Respecting Differences: Reducing Volatile Interactions between Youth and Law Enforcement on the Street
The Blueprint: Building Fortified Cities of Reentry
Change from the Inside Out: Rehabilitation Through the Arts,
From Correction Officer to Prison Advocate
The “Ex”: Simulating the Life of a Returning Citizen
Behind Enemy Lines: From Slavery to Mass Imprisonment
Connecting the Struggles, Challenging Incarceration
The Great Expulsion: ICE Raids/Criminalization of Immigrants in the US

Block 3 (3:45 – 5:15)

The Second Prison: Unlocking Second Chances
Formally Incarcerated Included
The Impact of the Prison Nation on Young Women and Girls
No Borders No Prisons: U.S. Immigration Jail and the Israeli Occupation of Palestine
Peacemaking Circles: Repairing Harm One Circle at a Time
SpreadMassLOVE: A Creative Approach to Healing Relationships and Repairing Harm Caused by Mass Incarceration
Reintegration Not Reentry
Multi-Racial Coalitions for Prison Divestment: Building Unity Against Mass Incarceration and Detention
Criminal Justice and Child Protection: Examining Intersections of Systemic Abuses

Location Information 

March 4th – Friday Night Kick Off Event 
Lerner Hall, Columbia University
2920 Broadway, New York, NY 10027
(Broadway at 116th)
1 Train to 116th Street

March 5th & 6th – Saturday Panels and Sunday Workshops

Columbia University School of Social Work 1255 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027

(Amsterdam between 122nd and 121st)

1 Train or AC/BD to 125th Street, walk to Amsterdam and head South

Conference Co-Sponsors

The conference is organized with support from the Columbia University School of Social Work, the Institute for Research in African American Studies, Latin@ Caucus, the Policy Caucus and the Queer Caucus at Columbia School of Social Work.

Important Information and FAQs

For Saturday Morning, there are 180 seats for the two plenaries. After we reach capacity there will be seats available in overflow rooms.

Are there ID requirements or an age limit to enter the event? — ID is required, but all ages are welcome at this event and we strongly encourage young people to attend.

Will the event be livestreamed? — Yes. Friday night will be livestreamed and the two Saturday morning plenaries as well as the two featured Saturday afternoon sessions will also be livestreamed. Livestreaming can be viewed here:

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions? — Please email with any questions.