Beyond the Bars Conference 2024


Past Event

Beyond the Bars Conference 2024

April 4, 2024 - April 7, 2024
6:00 PM - 5:00 PM
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  • Pre-conference: April 4, 2024, Collective Leadership Institute Graduation and Convocation
  • April 5-7, 2024, Beyond the Bars Conference: Justice Beyond Punishment

The annual Beyond the Bars Conference is a student-driven interdisciplinary conference on mass incarceration held at Columbia University. Each year the conference brings together students, faculty, activists, advocates, practitioners, those who have experienced and/or been impacted by incarceration, community members and more to connect, galvanize, and deepen the work of building justice and equity and ending mass incarceration.

Conference Overview

Carceral punishment remains a driving force in US society, with devastating consequences for families and communities, in particular Black, Brown, Indigenous, queer, trans, and poor folks. While movements for justice have made some progress in challenging punishment policy, practice, and culture, this has been much more difficult when it comes to issues of interpersonal and community violence. This year’s conference Justice Beyond Punishment, will explore the struggles to challenge carceral punishment while highlighting and advancing non-punitive approaches to interpersonal and community violence that offer us ways out of the punishment paradigm. Changing how we respond to interpersonal and community violence includes challenging and ending the violence of the state while building up community-based and community-specific approaches. It requires reckoning with the historic and current harms of carceral systems, and how the racialized punishment of the carceral state has done more to cause violence than prevent it. It means learning from and with impacted communities including  Indigenous, Black, Brown, queer, trans, and poor folks, and building a movement rooted in solidarity, self-determination, and dignity for all peoples. 

This year’s conference hopes to strengthen our collective work to challenge carceral punishment and strengthen community-based approaches to violence through focusing on the following questions: 

  • What strategies have been effective in challenging and dismantling state violence?  
  • What non-punitive approaches to interpersonal violence already exist that we can learn from, and grow? 
  • What are the underlying values and principles that can guide more just approaches to interpersonal violence and community violence? 
  • How do we build more solidarity across communities and movements around issues of violence?
  • What conversations need to happen in our movements to build stronger and more cohesive efforts to end state and interpersonal violence? 

This year's conference will take place at the Schomburg Center and Columbia School of Social Work, Sign up for our newsletter to receive more information closer to the conference. 

Conference is sold out. You can watch the livestream of Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday plenaries here

See preliminary agenda here

Thursday's program here

Friday's program here

Saturday and Sunday program here

Beyond the Panels one-pager

Contact Information

Melissa Tanis