Beyond the Bars 2018 Conference: Register Now!

Just added to the Friday night line up is the First Lady of NYC. Yes, Chirlane McCray will be kicking off the event with opening remarks. 

Learn more about the First Lady at The Official Website of the City of New York




Join us for the 8th Annual Beyond the Bars Conference: Closing Jails and Prisons. Beyond the Bars brings together a trans-disciplinary group to advance the work of ending mass incarceration and mass criminalization and building a just and safe society.  This year we aim to contribute to the growing movement to close jails and prisons as a part of the larger struggle for decarceration. In particular, we will focus on elevating the efforts led by grassroots organizers that include people who are formerly incarcerated and directly impacted.

Join us as we work to deepen our collective analysis and advance  strategies for a just, equitable and safe society. We are happy to have Patrisse Khan Cullors joining us for our Friday evening event, Building the Movement!
Thursday March 1st 
Ending the Incarceration of Women and Girls
Columbia Law School

(Doors at 6:15pm – Event Starts at 6:30pm)

Friday March 2nd
Building the Movement: Conversations with Patrisse Khan-Cullors
Lerner Hall, Columbia University

(Doors at 6:45pm – Event Starts at 7:30pm)

Saturday March 3rd
Closing Jails and Prisons
Columbia School of Social Work

(Registration begins at 8:30am – Panels start at 9:30am)

Sunday March 4th 
Building the Grassroots 

Columbia School of Social Work
(Registration begins at 9:30am – Program starts at 10am)


The Arts & Culture Committee for the 2018 Beyond the Bars Conference invites you to show your original visual artwork as part of the 2018 Beyond the Bars Conference March 1-4, 2018 at Columbia University in New York City. Our mission is to end mass incarceration and to bring justice to communities affected by the carceral system. Each year the conference examines different aspects of mass incarceration and alternative forms of justice. This year the theme is “Closing Jails and Prisons” and we are seeking artwork that imagines a post-carceral world.

If you would like to exhibit for the 2018 Beyond the Bars Conference please email us at by 5pm February 15, 2018. In your email please include a PDF of the artwork(s) you would like to submit along with your contact information and a brief description of how your artwork contributes to visions of a world free of prisons and jails.

You can also fill out this form to provide us information about your submission:

Richard Roderick, Program Director for the Justice Scholars Program is featured in the Yale News

Film director John Lucas hoped to show jailed friends’ ‘complex humanity’


When two men who were once among the four Ohio restaurant robbers who gained notoriety as “The Cooler Bandits” took the stage at Yale on Jan. 30, many in the audience felt they knew them personally.

Before Richard “Poochie” Roderick and Donovan Harris made their entrance in the Whitney Humanities Center, the audience watched the nearly two-hour documentary film “The Cooler Bandits,” which follows their journeys and that of their other two friends — Charlie Kelly and Frankie Porter — through different stages of their incarceration and reintegration into society. The film is directed by John Lucas, who joined Roderick and Harris in a Q&A after the screening.



Columbia Justice Lab Shaping Justice for the Future

Too Big to Succeed

January 29, 2018

In this new report, some of the nation’s leading community corrections administrators discuss the consequences of the tremendous growth in probation and parole supervision in the United States over the past several decades. They argue that the number of people under supervision needs to be cut in half.

Originally designed as alternatives to incarceration, the authors find that probation and parole are a deprivation of liberty in their own right and have become key drivers of mass incarceration by serving as a trip wire to reincarceration for many of those under supervision…






Christia Mercer: Reading gives people in prison hope. But some states want to take their books away.

We should be encouraging reading behind bars, given the nexus of illiteracy, criminal actions and high recidivism rates,

Jan.25.2018 / 9:57 AM ET

My students, occupants of the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center, had only just begun to settle into the semester when the prison went into lockdown in September 2017. For 12 days, MDC’s roughly 1,750 occupants were locked inside their cells, eating and defecating in their own little cages, some without the chance to shower.

What did my students do during those grimy days of confinement?




Center for Justice receives Harriet Tubman Award of Movement Building Towards Collective Liberation

The Center for Justice is honored to receive the Harriet Tubman Award of Movement Building Towards Collective Liberation from How Our Lives Link Altogether (H.O.L.L.A!) and their Youth Organizing Collective.

H.O.L.L.A is deeply committed to the healing and leadership of youth, in particular those who have been impacted by incarceration and criminalization.  We are proud to work alongside them in the work of justice and healing and humbled by their recognition.



You can learn more about H.O.L.L.A! through their website and social media:

Faith, Hope, Reconciliation: The Church’s Role in Prison Reform

Hosted by Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC

Monday, January 29 at 7 PM – 8:30 PM


Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC 1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th St, New York, New York 10025

The Cathedral is pleased to present a panel discussion, sponsored by the Society of Regents, on the increasing need for American prison reform and the ways in which we can push for the fair treatment of both currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. The panelists have worked on ending the privatization of prisons, the Close Rikers campaign, and helping with reentry and will discuss how to push for change from both inside and outside the church.

The Reverend Winnie Varghese, moderator, is the Director of Justice and Reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street.

Reverend Canon Petero Sabune served for five years as the Protestant Chaplain of Sing Sing Prison, and for several years has served as Liaison for Reentry for the New York Department of Corrections and Community Service.

Ms. Cheryl Wilkins is the Senior Director of Education and Programs at Columbia University’s Center for Justice, which works to advance alternative approaches to safety and justice through community collaboration, education, research and policy with the mission of reducing the nation’s reliance on incarceration.

Learn more about the Society of Regents and the many ways they support the Cathedral at


Click Here to Learn More

Topeka K. Sam, Justice in Education Scholar and Co-Founder of Hope House featured in the NY Times

A House for Women Leaving Prison Sits Empty

When Shirelle Howard left prison in 2016, she had $112 in her pocket — her life savings.

After buying her train ticket from Taconic Correctional Facility to Manhattan ($12.75); a MetroCard ($5); and two slices of pizza and a soda for her first meal of freedom in 16 years ($2.99), she had $91.26 to start over.

For a year, she struggled. And then she got a lifeline: a room at “Hope House,” a new transitional home in the Castle Hill neighborhood of the Bronx for women just leaving prison.

At least, she thought she did…

Click Here to Read Full Article

NY Times Op-Ed from Columbia Law Professor Bernard Harcourt: Executing a Terminally Ill Inmate

The Ghoulish Pursuit of Executing a Terminally Ill Inmate

When judges schedule a lethal injection for a terminally ill prisoner whose struggle against lymphatic cancer and extensive medical history has left him without any easily accessible veins, our law descends into a ghoulish inferno. It is a dreadful place where our most august jurists ruminate over catheter gauges and needle sizes, and ponder whether to slice deep into the groin or puncture internal jugular veins. History will not judge us favorably….


Click Here to Read Full Article 


Related Article

The Decades-Long Defense of an Alabama Death-Row Prisoner Enters a Final Phase

Center for Justice Awarded the College and Community Fellowship Institutional Vision Award

On October 26th, 2017, the Center for Justice was awarded the College and Community Fellowship (CCF) Institutional Vision Award at their Bi-Annual Benefit Gala in downtown Manhattan. Center Directors Geraldine Downey and Kathy Boudin and Senior Director of Education and Programs Cheryl Wilkins accepted the award on behalf of the Center.


The Institutional Vision Award is given to formal institutions that participate in criminal justice reform work. CCF values the institutions that support the criminal justice reform movement with research, data, on-the-ground experience, and influence with their peers. The Center was honored as this year’s recipient for “its relentless commitment to transforming the criminal justice system and creating social change”.


CCF is an organization of educators, social workers, policy changers, and former students working together to help formerly incarcerated women succeed in college, career, family, and life while earning their college degrees. CCF seeks to eliminate individual and structural barriers to higher education, economic security, long term stability, and civic participation for women who have criminal convictions (including those currently and formerly incarcerated) and their families. CCF offers scholarship programs, professional and college counseling, mentorship, and social and support services. For more information on CCF and their work, please visit their website at: