This report is an urgent call for a comprehensive philanthropic response to the growing crisis of criminalization. Over the past decade mass incarceration – the reality that over 2.2 million people are locked up in the nation’s prisons and jails, and 60% are people of color – has emerged as a central social justice issue of our time. Advocates, organizers, and philanthropic partners have confronted this crisis by working to reduce both racial disparities and the overall population of incarcerated people, and to mitigate the collateral consequences of criminal convictions.
Beats, Rhymes & Justice, a collaboration with Audio Pictures LLC., uses digital music production, lyric writing and media literacy to engage young people in producing and recording songs at Rikers Island. Students learn to create and record songs using iPads and music production software and also critically examine a variety of works from hip-hop artists including Tupac, Nas and Kendrick Lamar.
June Jordan (1936-2002) was a political activist and poet who founded “Poetry for the People Workshops” while teaching at UC Berkeley. She believed that poetry is a communal and easy-to-use art form. In memory of June Jordan’s work, Christopher Soto was invited by Columbia University to teach a community-based writing workshop that serves both the Columbia University student body and also members of the surrounding community in Harlem. Although all applications will be considered, youth ages 16-18 in the Harlem area will be be giving strong consideration. Over the span of 8 weeks, participants of the workshops will be reading about contemporary American poetry that has supplemented various protest movements in the 20th and 21st centuries. Workshop participants will also be writing and editing their own poems during this course.
Application Deadline: September 22, 2017
Workshops will take place on Columbia’s campus
Dates and Times:
Monday, Oct 16 | 7pm-9pm
Monday, Oct 23 | 7pm-9pm
Monday, Oct 30 | 7pm-9pm
Monday, Nov 6 | No Class
Monday, Nov 13 | 7pm-9pm
Monday, Nov 20 | 7pm-9pm
Monday, Nov 27 | 7pm-9pm
Monday, Dec 4 | 7pm-9pm
Monday, Dec 11 | 7pm-9pm
Please email 5-7 pages of poetry in a word document to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also include a title page, which states your name, address, age, and a short statement (3-4 sentences) about any writing experience that you have or that you would like to gain.
About the Instructor:
Christopher Soto (b. 1991, Los Angeles) is a poet based in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of “Sad Girl Poems” (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016) and the editor of “Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color” (Nightboat Books, 2018). He cofounded the Undocupoets Campaign and worked with Amazon Literary Partnerships to establish grants for undocumented writers. In 2017, he was awarded “The Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism” by Split This Rock. In 2016, Poets & Writers honored Christopher Soto with the “Barnes & Nobles Writer for Writers Award.” He frequently writes book reviews for the Lambda Literary Foundation. His poems, reviews, interviews, and articles can be found at The Nation, The Guardian, The Advocate, Los Angeles Review of Books, American Poetry Review, Tin House, and more. His work has been translated into Spanish and Portuguese. He received his MFA in poetry from NYU, where he was a Goldwater Hospital Writing Workshop Fellow.
Every Friday evening, with sadness and with pride, I make a 90-minute trek from Columbia University to Sing Sing Correctional Facility to teach a drugs and behavior course. My students, who are bright and predominantly black, enthusiastically engage with the curriculum, not least because some of them have a personal stake in the subject. Several are serving time for a drug-related offense, as are hundreds of thousands of other Americans….
The March for Justice is an undertaking by the Alliance of Families for Justice–NY (AFJ-NY) to bring attention to human rights abuses in New York State prisons and jails. The March will start in New York City on August 26, 2017, and culminate in a press conference and rally in Albany on Sept. 13, 2017, the anniversary of the 1971 Attica uprising and massacre. Read the March for Justice Executive Summary.
Tentative March Schedule Some towns will change–final route will be posted here soon
* means confirmed:
Day 1, Sat. August 26: Harlem*→Bronx*
National Black Theatre, Harlem, NY. Get flyer.
Day 2, Sun., August 27: Bronx*→Yonkers*
Day 3, Mon., August 28: Yonkers*→White Plains*
Day 4, Tues., August 29: White Plains*→Tarrytown*
Day 5, Weds., August 30: Tarrytown*→Ossining*
Day 6, Thurs., August 31: Ossining*→Peekskill*
It’s Time to Overhaul America’s Broken Probation and Parole Systems
July 13, 2017Topeka K. Sam
I was released from prison two years and two months ago. Since then, I have been working to improve the lives of formerly incarcerated women and men.
I’ve received fellowships from Beyond the Bars and the Open Society Foundations, and was named a Justice in Education Scholar at Columbia University. I founded the Ladies of Hope Ministries, which helps women and girls transition from prison back into society through education, entrepreneurship, and advocacy. I am establishing Hope House, a re-entry housing development for women and girls. As a founding member and national organizer of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, I have crisscrossed the country organizing council chapters and creating symposiums at law schools nationwide.
‘You go, girl!’: Joy, tears as 19 Washington prison inmates earn college degrees
Originally published June 24, 2017 at 6:00 am Updated June 24, 2017 at 11:24 pm
Nineteen women inmates at the Washington Corrections Center for Women graduated last week with associate degrees through a fast-growing college program run by a Tacoma nonprofit.
GIG HARBOR — College graduations are emotional occasions, but it would be hard to match the level of enthusiasm and joy that pervaded the gymnasium at the Washington Corrections Center for Women this month when 19 inmates received diplomas.
Parents and grandparents, sons and daughters, cousins and friends and other student inmates filled the room, bursting into applause over and over. Laughing, crying and shouting “You go, girl!” again and again…
As Cheryl Wilkins accepted her college diploma, hundreds of women screamed her name and whooped with joy. They were so loud that Wilkins’ brother, sitting with his four-year-old daughter, couldn’t hear the girl cheering, “Auntie! Auntie!” Other family members were even more enthusiastic. When another woman’s name was called, her six-year-old daughter grabbed her hand and dragged her to the stage. “Come on Mama, get your degree!” Wilkins remembers the girl shouting. “Her daughter took the diploma and walked off the stage with it.”
If you’ve ever glanced out the window of a plane flying into or out of LaGuardia Airport, you’ve seen Rikers Island. The flat strip of land, strikingly treeless, sits in the East River between Queens and the Bronx. With its clusters of long, low buildings, Rikers could be some sort of warehouse and distribution center, where tractor-trailers back up to bays to be loaded or unloaded. But there are no trucks. What is warehoused here is people — about 7,500 on any given day — detained by the New York City Department of Correction. Most of them, accused but not yet convicted of crimes, have been waiting months and even years for their day in court. Others have been found guilty and sentenced to a year or less in jail….