Fall Trainings

We have a number of great trainings happening this fall all with the aim of supporting people who are advancing alternative approaches to justice, safety, healing and accountability. Please join us!

Responding Restoratively: An Introduction to Restorative Principles and Practices
with Sethu Nair and Cameron Rasmussen

November 2nd-4th, 2018
9:30-5:00pmColumbia School of Social Work
1255 Amsterdam AveThis is an introductory training to the principles and practices of restorative justice and restorative approaches to conflict resolution. Participants will learn the ethos of restorative approaches including underlying theory and values as well as experience and learn some foundational tools to respond to conflict and harm in a restorative way. Participants will learn how to facilitate restorative community building circles and less formalized restorative responses.

REGISTER HERE: https://restorativeresponses.eventbrite.com

Full Circle: Reclaiming and Reconnecting to Our Restorative Practices
with Whitney Richards-Calathes

November 9th-11th, 2018
9:30-5:00pmColumbia School of Social Work

1255 Amsterdam AveThis three day experience is an opportunity for those who identify as a people of color to collectively explore restorative/transformative justice and circle practice and philosophy. It is an invitation to reconnect with our indigenous roots, our ethnic identities, and our cultural practices.  How do we ensure that restorative action is always in alignment with racial justice? How do we reclaim circle keeping as a cultural tool as well as an abolitionist stance? How can we embody transformations away from punishment as transformations away from white supremacy too?  This training will give tools and information, but it will also be highly experiential. All levels of experience with RJ are welcome, but this is an opportunity specifically for people that identify as people of color, that work predominantly in spaces with people of color.

REGISTER HERE: https://reclaimingrestorative.eventbrite.com

The Empathic Facilitator: Leading A Transformative Group Process
With Piper Anderson

November 30th – December 1st

The Empathic Facilitator is a two-day training for anyone who leads groups and wants to develop the skills to lead a transformative change process. The principles and practices learned in this training can be adapted for a range of settings and groups whether you regularly facilitate workshops, team meetings, or offer one-on-one coaching.

REGISTER HERE: https://empathicfacilitatorfall2018.eventbrite.com

Research Opportunities: From the Inside Out

People in prison, including those suffering from mental illnesses, are victims of mistreatment such as violence due to the use of excessive force and severe neglect in the form of moral exclusions and disengagement by prison guards and other staff  (Haslam, 2006; Blackler, 2015; Gullapalli, 2015), as per correctional policy. This mistreatment is not conducive to a successful reentry back into society. The US rate of recidivism in 2014 was 76.6% compared to Norway’s 20%. This difference is attributed to Norway’s implementation of the concept of “restorative justice” (Sterbenz; 2014). This concept prioritizes the humanization and rehabilitation of people in prison. Acknowledging their humanity and treating people in prison as PEOPLE instead of irredeemable and unworthy of acceptance (Dreisinger; 2016). Despite the above research, existing information, and efforts made by activist and organizations lobbying against these conditions, the inhumane treatment continues to occur (Blackler, 2015). This would suggest that a larger constituency remains compliant with, and/or ignorant to, these abuses.



Columbia Journal 57: Call for Submissions from Incarcerated Writers

Community Outreach Program

Columbia Journal’s Community Outreach Program aims to maintain and sustain space for those writers from vulnerable and at-risk communities who have traditionally been excluded from the larger literary discussion of art, taste, and scholarship. The outreach program actively questions and challenges our formal thinking about what we consider “good writing”, who we consider “serious writers”, and whose stories we read in literary magazines.

Download Columbia Journal 57_ Call for Submissions from Incarcerated Writers (3)



Columbia Journal wasfoundedin1977bystudentsintheC olumbiaUniversitySchoolofthe Arts Graduate Writing program. Since then, we’ve featured work from Nobel laureates and unknowns, National Book Award winners and newcomers. Our past issues have included writers such as Raymond Carver, Lorrie Moore, Kara Walker, Mary Karr, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Today, Columbia Journal publishes both in print and online, columbiajournal.org, seeking to showcase the best poetry, nonfiction, fiction, translation and visual art on both platforms. The print edition, published each spring, is a combination of solicited work and the best of the submissions we’ve received—including the winners of our annual winter contest. Online, you’ll find reviews and interviews with writers and artists, as well as the same caliber of original, vibrantly creative work that the print edition is known for.

PRI to co-organise conference on women in prison ft Dr. Kathy Boudin

Penal Reform International and the Vance Center are co-organising a conference on Women in prison: evidence, advocacy and reform, in Bogota from 5–7 September 2018.

The conference will bring together 45 women prisoners’ rights advocates from the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe to share information about conditions of women’s imprisonment in their respective countries and regions and build capacity for improved and collaborative monitoring, reporting and advocacy regarding such conditions. Participants will include academics, grassroots advocates and international experts on women’s rights and women’s imprisonment, including formerly incarcerated women. The workshops will explore themes such as the growing trend of women’s imprisonment around the world, the international legal framework regarding women’s imprisonment, improving conditions for women in prison, research methods on women’s incarceration, and strategies for effecting change. Key speakers will include Dr. Kathy Boudin, Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Justice at Columbia University, and Roger Juan Maldonado, President of the New York City Bar Association.



Remembering Justice-in-Education Scholar Richard Lynch

by Nicole Callahan

At the end of William Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, the brilliant, powerful, and deeply complicated Cardinal Wolsey comes to a critical moment of self-recognition. He meditates there on the cruel and paradoxical cycles of the life of man, how “to-day he puts forth / The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms, / And bears his blushing honours thick upon him; / The third day comes a frost, a killing frost, / And, when he thinks, good easy man, full surely / His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root, / And then he falls” (HVIII, III.ii).

Richard “Rick” Lynch, one of our deeply beloved Justice-In-Education Scholars, passed away on July 3, 2018. Home for just over a year, he had completed Humanities Texts, Critical Skills with great success, and was enrolled in University Writing and University Studies for the summer session, approaching the course and the work with his usual dedication and commitment. Rick had also earned his parole on June 14th, ten days before his 49th birthday on June 24th.

By any definition, as Shakespeare wrote, Rick’s “greatness [was] a-ripening,” and the devastation in our community over his loss speaks to the incredible impact he had on each of us. Rick was an essential part of our JIE family. At the beginning of our class, Rick wasn’t quite sure, as a fellow scholar remembers, “about all this ‘Columbia Shit.’” Quickly, however, he transitioned from, in another student’s words, from the guy who “chewed gum at the back of class… to the scholar whose perspective I was always eager to learn from.”

He was always early to class, and he and I would sit there across from each other, on the hard benches in the hallway of Philosophy, talking about his deep revulsion at the actions of Humbert Humbert, or how many years the most recent writing assignment had taken off his life. Sometimes he’d tell me an inappropriate joke, or ask me a question about Columbia, or about my life, and then we’d go in to class. As many times as I tried to get him to sit next to me at the table, he liked his corner by the door, his book on his knee.

Rick was the Greek chorus of our class, the brave and honest man who would never back off from confronting us with ideas we might be trying to avoid. We could count on Rick, as a classmate put it, for “his hilarious bluntness, for saying the things we were all thinking, but were too embarrassed to say out loud.” Even when he knew that what he had to share would be unpopular or controversial, he shared it with grace, with care, and with humor.

I know that, just as he was to me, Rick was incredibly thoughtful and generous and loving with everyone, a deeply soft-hearted man underneath his gruff exterior. He’d notice when anyone even quietly cleared a throat in class, and then, as a classmate said, “he proceeded to offer me cough drops every single class after that, and sometimes even gave me several handfuls of them or brought an extra bag just for me. I am finding cough drops all over the place until this day.” He often brought bags of snacks to class, passing them off to another student to bring in because he didn’t want the credit or the attention. Another JIE scholar who had just come home was looking for a job in the music industry, and Rick, as soon as he found that out, called up old contacts and set up a job for his fellow student.

Rick was also, in the words of one of his classmates, both “unbelievably candid and so, so enigmatic. It’s those juxtapositions—the fact that you can’t quite figure him out, but still understand him—that makes Rick so special. I’ve never met anyone like him in my life—someone with absolutely no filter, but absolutely no ill will in his heart.” As well as we thought we knew him, as much as he let us in, there was still so much we didn’t know and so much he didn’t share. But the one place he never held back was in showing his love for and appreciation of this community that we all built together.

And because he would have laughed and grimaced at me for including even more Shakespeare, for too much emoting, and for going on at length (like one of my overwhelming e-mails), I’ll end with this blessing from Act IV, scene ii of Cymbeline:

Fear no more the heat o’ th’ sun
Nor the furious winter’s rages;

Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone and ta’en thy wages…

Fear no more the frown o’ th’ great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke…

Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor th’ all-dreaded thunder-stone;

Fear no slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan…

Quiet consummation have,
And renowned be thy grave.

If you have memories of Rick to share, or would like to see what his classmates of have shared, please click here.

Image Credit: Alexandra Zarins Rolls

The Social Dilemma of the Youth: The Youth Crisis in NYC

Jarrell Daniels

Bronx Community college Panel

The Social Dilemma of the Youth: The Youth Crisis in NYC

Far too often society fails to adhere to the outcry our young people. They are the ones being under represented and under resourced. Our youth flow through life in silence, unheard in their public plight for attention. There has been a pre-existing power dynamic in America that pertains to the youth. The youth are not being included in community affairs, and social change initiatives have yet to feature the younger generations perspective. Young people are faced with more challenges due to technological advancements, advanced academic standards/curriculum, changing family structure, and accessibility to community programs and services. Social policies have been implemented that adversely affect young people. Upcoming generations of children have adapted all these new social customs.

The margin of understanding the plaguing dilemmas of the youth has not been met on common ground. Furthermore, minority youth, suffer the peer influence of social media and open encouragement of gangs. Failing education systems, lack of community involvement, and sense of social accountability, ultimately lead to imprisonment. Academic institutions are failing to cultivate the attention of young people in order to effectively meet their needs.  Parents are left trying to re-configure a healthy method to encourage and motivate their children. Peer youth advocacy has been my way of leading the charge for bringing the voices of the disenfranchised youth to the forefront of social justice. Building youth leadership, training through academia, socio-political awareness and providing community intervention are starting points I feel we as a society need to engage the youth.


DIG Member Christopher Medina-Kirchner creates “Formerly Incarcerated Reintegration Science Training (FIRST)” program

The Formerly Incarcerated Reintegration Science Training (FIRST) program helps integrate formerly incarcerated students into graduate school. This is accomplished by providing a sense of community to program participants while they are trained to conduct scientific research and prepare for a career in academia. Although participants come from diverse fields, all research projects have a social justice focus.

While in the program, participants are provided with a multitude of resources and mechanisms to assist in their professional development. Formerly incarcerated mentors help students design their projects, develop career goals, build professional networks, while also providing advice and encouragement. Weekly workshops help participants improve their research and writing skills. As an incentive for completing the program, stipends are provided. Finally, participants will present their research at the FIRST Annual Program Symposium, gaining valuable experience in science dissemination.




It Does Take a Village

When Mayor Bill de Blasio established the NYC Children’s Cabinet—a multi-agency initiative designed to foster stronger working relationships among city agencies whose major responsibilities include, promoting children’s wellbeing—he did not anticipate being called the “Baby’s Mayor.”

Center staff members, Jay Holder and Geraldine Downey, were invited to visit the Cabinet’s Baby Shower at Roy Wilkins Parks in Queens on March 12. They were amazed at the atmosphere and to the initiative’s approach to child development. Jay explained, “It was like being back in a human development course. They not only offered games and gifts to mothers and children, but they also provided parents with critical information on child development that included vital factors such as nutrition, and readings on healthy development.” Jay further elaborated, “I left that shower realizing that I had to do more. When the organizers said they would be having another shower for mothers on Rikers Island, the empathy employed by government hugged me at my core, and I started sending pictures of the event to my colleagues and contacts.”

A contact at Nickelodeon was the first to respond to the invitation and agreed to participate at the event. On Tuesday, June 19th(Juneteenth), approximately fifty mothers and sixty children celebrated the essence of motherhood together with dozens of agencies and organizations, such as the Osborne Association and The Fortune Society. Jay added, “I know that Chirlane McCray is out there attending most of the events, being hands on with the families, but I have to give a nod to Bill for understanding the need for this initiative, and the long-term significance these courses of actions have on the lives of others. For that, he is not just the mayor, he is the Baby’s Mayor.”



FreeHer National Conference:
The Women’s Collective that Will End the Criminalization and Mass Incarceration of Women and Girls

September 28-30, 2018 Marriott Tulsa Hotel Southern Hills 1902 E 71st Street, Tulsa, OK 74136

The mission of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls (National Council) is to end the incarceration of women and girls. We do this by providing a membership platform of technical support, complex coalition building, and comprehensive resources that assist local initiatives to organize toward our shared goal of shifting from a criminal legal system to one based on human justice. Through the work of the National Council, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and girls are connecting their criminal justice transformation work and sharing their expertise as directly affected women and girls. In the aggregate, as we grow in our membership, sisterhood, and common purpose, we contribute to meaningful change in public opinion and policy making that moves us toward our goal of ending incarceration of women and girls.

The 1st Annual FreeHer National Conference is a professional conference focused on incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and girls and transformation from a criminal legal system to community-led solutions. Participants represent a diverse array of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and girls, family members of incarcerated people, advocates, community organizers, practitioners, state administrators, policymakers, program directors, researchers, lawyers, judges, treatment providers, parole, probation, federal, state, and local jail and prison administrators, staff, professors, and students.

Request for Proposals

The FreeHer National Conference will feature 45 to 90-minute workshops. We are interested in proposals on a variety of issues related to incarceration of women and girls on topics including but not limited to:

  • Alternatives to Incarceration
  • Bail Reform
  • Barriers to Re-Entry
  • Clemency/Compassionate Release/Pardon
  • Closing Jails/Prisons
  • Collateral Consequences
  • Court Fees-Fines
  • Employment
  • Ending Violence
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Fair Wages
  • Families
  • Housing/Halfway Houses
  • Innovation
  • Know your D.A.
  • Legislation
  • Litigation
  • Organizing
  • Parole/Probation
  • Peer Support
  • Shifting
  • Storytelling/Raising Awareness
  • Supervised Release
  • Transformative Justice
  • Trauma Informed Care – Self Care – Healing

Please include in your proposal: 1) the materials you will need for your workshop (e.g. projector, paper, markers, etc.), and 2) whether you would like to do a 45-minute, 60-minute, or 90-minute workshop.

To submit a proposal, please send to (email below) by August 1, 2018.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments at: info@thecouncil.us

2018-19 Beyond the Bars Fellowship – Apply Now!

The Beyond the Bars Fellowship offers students and community members an interdisciplinary leadership development program to develop and deepen their identity, analysis, skills and network towards ending mass incarceration and creating a more just and safe world. Through seminars, workshops and guest lectures Fellows explore their own experiences and identities as people working for social change; gain a theoretical and practical understanding of mass incarceration; and are introduced to various models of social change including community organizing, legislative advocacy, messaging and communications and more.  In addition Fellows work together with the Center for Justice and the Criminal Justice Caucus to organize the annual Beyond the Bars Conference on ending mass incarceration and realizing social justice. The Fellowship is made up of both Students and Community members and our aim is to work collaboratively with the University and Community towards social change. 

Is the Fellowship Right for me?

We aim to bring together Columbia University students with the larger NYC community to create a diverse and rich learning environment that can be mutually beneficial to all Fellows. We encourage people impacted (directly and indirectly) by mass incarceration to apply. Please note that extensive experience is not a requirement.

What will you gain?

  • Leadership Development: Participate in regular seminars, workshops and guest lectures and deepen your understanding of yourself as well as develop your understanding of justice issues and your capacity to enact change.
  • Organizing Experience: Work collaboratively to help organize the annual Beyond the Bars Conference
  • A Community of Mentors and Colleagues: The Fellowship is an intentional and experiential learning community that will support your growth as a social justice advocate.

All applicants should meet the following:

  • Have a desire to be a part of group learning environment
  • Demonstrated enthusiasm for social justice.
  • Commitment to fulfill all requirements of the Fellowship

Columbia Fellows should be Current Columbia student enrolled at least half-time in an undergraduate or graduate program.

Community Fellows are not enrolled at Columbia University. We encourage applicants who are not students or have not attended college to apply. Students from other colleges / universities are welcome to apply.


The priority application deadline is Monday August 20th.  After that we will be accepting applications on a rolling basis until Monday August 27th.

Application Materials

  • 1 page cover letter including:
    • Why you are interested in becoming a Beyond the Bars Fellow
    • What you hope to gain from the Fellowship
    • An assessment of your strengths and challenges
  • Resume / CV

To Apply

Email your application materials to: btbfellowship@gmail.com

Application Process  

  • July 10th: Application Period Opens
  • August 17th: Priority Application Deadline
  • August 27th: Application Period Closes
  • August 22nd- August 30th – Interviews
  • September 7th: Accepted Applicants are Notified
  • September 20th: Fellowship Starts

Tentative Fellowship Calendar

The Fellowship meets most Thursday nights from 6:15-8:30pm starting September 20th going through to early April 4th. 

Fall Dates

  • September 20th
  • September 27th
  • October 4th 
  • Oct 12th – Oct 14th: 3 Day Retreat
  • October 18th
  • October 25th
  • November 1st
  • November 8th
  • November 15th
  • November 29th
  • December 6th
  • December 13th

Spring Dates

  • Saturday January 12th – Day long Conference Planning Retreat
  • January 17th
  • January 24th
  • January 31st
  • February 7th
  • February 14th
  • February 21st
  • February 28th
  • March 7th-10th:  Beyond the Bars Conference
  • March 14th
  • March 28th
  • April 4th: Fellowship Graduation
  • April 12th-14th: 3 Day Closing Retreat