A Holiday Message From Director Geraldine Downey

December 21st, 2016

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We are reaching out after an arduous and contentious election that left much of our country divided, and many with a feeling of discontent and powerlessness. However, instead of feeling defeated, we feel even more driven to continue our work to end mass incarceration. We are dedicated to transforming our criminal justice system from one that focuses on punishment and disenfranchisement to one that that emphasizes people’s humanity and capacity to improve their lives, while ensuring public safety.

As we’ve outlined on the accompanying summary, our accomplishments over the past year have been many; but we cannot do this work alone. In order to effect change in our criminal justice system, we need your help. Your support will allow us to develop frameworks for changing the punitive narrative and to support local and national institutions and communities in implementing new approaches to safety and justice. But more importantly, your financial support will enable us to continue investing in people directly affected by the criminal justice system by providing access to education, employment and leadership opportunities.


Consider supporting us so we can continue our work in 2017.

Please Click Here to donate


More specifically, your support will help:

  1. Talented students who were formerly incarcerated enroll at Columbia University;
  2. Bring more Columbia University professors to teach credit-bearing courses at correctional facilities in New York State
  3. Provide educational workshops for youth detained at Rikers Island;
  4. Engage community youth in summer-long workshops that combine arts and social justice;
  5. Fund research examining the effects of having a criminal record on people’s chances of applying for and attaining educational and employment opportunities;
  6. The Beyond the Bars conference and the Beyond the Bars Fellowship;
  7. Our policy work on releasing people who have served sentences that exceed concerns for public safety;
  8. Our continued efforts to implement restorative justice-based alternatives to the punishment paradigm in Rikers Island and the state prison system

With your help, we can make an even bigger difference in transforming the criminal justice system next year.


Best Wishes,

Geraldine Downey



Center for Justice