News

Kevin Mays became a Beyond the Bars Fellow right after he came home from prison in 2019.

New piece in Inquest highlights the creation of our Justice Beyond Punishment Collaborative and what we have collectively learned in the last three

Join us April 4–7, 2024 for Beyond the Bars, an annual conference supporting movement building to end mass incarceration.

Kevin Mays became a Beyond the Bars Fellow right after he came home from prison in 2019. He is now a Beyond the Bars Senior Fellow, advocate, and so much more. Read his story below. 

New piece in Inquest highlights the creation of our Justice Beyond Punishment Collaborative and what we have collectively learned in the last three years of working together

Join us April 4–7, 2024 for Beyond the Bars, an annual conference supporting movement building to end mass incarceration.

Submit workshop proposals for this year's Beyond the Bars Conference: Justice Beyond Punishment on April 5–7

In partnership with Clean Start Africa, V-Day, and Classical Theatre of Harlem, CfJ staff and Right/Write to Heal participants brought the Beyond the Bars Conference to Kenya. 

New report reveals how New York City jails continue to inflict solitary confinement on people in its custody, in violation of state law and local regulations, with devastating and deadly consequences.

The one-of-a-kind Justice Ambassadors Youth Council (JAYC) brings criminal legal system impacted youth, from New York City’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, together with government executives to address New York’s most challenging community issues

Justice Through Code is a tuition-free national programs combine an in-demand tech certification, interpersonal skills building, and a network of industry mentors, in order to forge meaningful careers for historically untapped talent. In return, our employer partners access motivated and precision-trained individuals, and our communities gain a pathway to true generational change.

CfJ's co-founder Cheryl Wilkins was honored with the Kathy Boudin Award at the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign's 10 Year Anniversary Gala

Written and directed by Kirya Traber in collaboration with the performers, “Beyond Punishment” follows the lives of four remarkable individuals who grapple with the intersections and impacts of interpersonal and state violence.

The Columbia Center for Justice, in partnership with Project Restore BedStuy, is hosting a Toy Drive until Monday, December 18th.

"We are honored to receive support from the NBA Foundation, a recognition of the significance of our work in addressing New York’s most pressing challenges surrounding mass incarceration, poverty, and gun violence."

The Fellowship is made up of students, community members, and formerly incarcerated and directly impacted people.

Learn more about the incredible women who are participating in this year’s Women Transcending Collective Leadership Institute (CLI) cohort.

Applications are now open for the next cohorts of Justice Through Code!

Our Justice Beyond Punishment Collaborative has officially launched the Justice Beyond Punishment Campaign, a narrative and culture change campaign working to end state violence and the reliance on punishment, criminalization, and incarceration as the primary responses to interpersonal violence, and to advance more just and effective approaches to safety and justice.

The annual Free Her Conference is hosted by the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls and took place in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico this year. 

Hosted by Broadway Advocacy Coalition, the Arts in Action Festival is the premier space for organizations and individuals working at the intersections of arts and advocacy to come together to showcase their work, explore opportunities for collaboration, celebrate the resilience of the justice-impacted community, and focus the city’s attention on the many ways the “justice” system is failing to actually create justice for so many inhabitants of NYC.

Plan to join us for the 2024 Beyond the Bars Conference on April 5-7 in New York City

CfJ's Geraldine Downey, Jarrell Daniels, UniQue C. Starks, and other collaborators publish article in Cambridge University Press about our Justice Ambassadors Youth Council program

Since the Spring of 2019, over a hundred young New Yorkers and executives from New York City and State government, have joined various twelve-week cohorts of the Justice Ambassadors Youth Council (JAYC) to co-create policy proposals in a weekly educational seminar. 

The application period for the next cohort of the Beyond the Bars Fellowship is now open! The Beyond the Bars Fellowship is a certificate-based program through the Center for Justice at Columbia University that offers interdisciplinary leadership to develop and deepen identity, analysis, skills and networks toward ending mass criminalization, incarceration and to create a more just and safe world.

Justice Through Code now offers a 26-week program designed to empower intermediate-level learners looking to enhance their abilities and differentiate themselves in the tech industry

The Justice Ambassador Youth Council (JAYC) is a 12-week social action and life skills building educational seminar that brings together government officials and 18-25 year-olds – many of whom are legal system impacted or gang involved – and come from New York City’s most under-served neighborhoods

Collective Leadership Institute alum Chazidy Bowman shares how the program enhanced her work supporting other families impacted by incarceration

HousingPlus's Benefit celebrated some of the most ardent activists and community leaders working to create meaningful change across our broken legal system. 

Photos and Video from our Inaugural Kathy Boudin Lecture 

Collective Leadership Institute alum Gale Muhammad shares how the program changed her life and supported her work 

Our Right/Write to Heal Initiative traveled to Maine to perform their “Why I Write” spoken word and to visit currently incarcerated women who also participate in the program.

Remembering and honoring our beloved co-founder Kathy Boudin one year after she transitioned. 

Justice Through Code co-hosted an event with Business Roundtable, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Eaton, the Second Chance Business Coalition, and the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School during Second Chance Month 

“We believe the time is overdue for women impacted by the justice system to tell their own stories, in their own voices, about how they experienced incarceration and what it has done to their lives on the inside and after being released. acknowledging the harm we have done and the trauma we experienced on our journeys to healing.”

Find photos, videos, and more from the 2023 Beyond the Bars Conference: Seeding Justice

Finding purpose and power where darkness lives: Cheryl Wilkins journey through incarceration

Sign up to join us on March 24–26th in New York City for our annual conference

This year we are organizing a poster exhibition at the annual Beyond the Bars Conference that will create a platform for artists to showcase visual representations of how we can seed justice.

"Everyone deserves a chance to be seen, heard, and understood for who they are today, and every person supporting an incarcerated loved one deserves to have real hope that their loved one will come home someday."

This year's conference theme is Seeding Justice, exploring the ways in which movements for justice cultivate healing, accountability and transformation, for people and communities, as well as to hold harmful carceral systems to account.

On December 6, 2022 we celebrated the JAYC’s 5th annual graduation ceremony. The event took place at the Forum of Columbia and was introduced with opening remarks by program director Jarrell Daniels and facilitator Judge Jeanine Johnson. 

On November 14, the Columbia Center for Justice presented “Echoes of Attica,” featuring actors without costumes—only scripts in hand—and projected collages of mid-20th-century social figures in place of a set. 

Echoes of Attica, a music/theater piece about the 1971 Attica Prison revolt, will be performed by formerly incarcerated actors and musicians, to raise awareness about its relevance to the current outbreak of state violence against communities of color.

Why Understanding Restorative and Transformative Justice on Their Own Terms, and At Their Best and Worst, Will Help Us Build More of Both

On Saturday, September 24, 2022, Columbia’s Center for Justice collaborated with Sing Sing Family Collective for a project called Straight 2 School to facilitate conversations on higher education for children whose families have been impacted by incarceration. 

We are dedicated to carrying forward Kathy Boudin’s unwavering passion and fierce commitment to ending mass incarceration, to investing in the power of those who have been locked away, and to building communities of care and support. Since Kathy’s passing, CfJ has created the Kathy Boudin Freedom Fund.

“Thinking Back & Looking Forward” is a multipart conversation chronicling the responses of two correctional leaders, Brian Fischer and Elaine Lord, and two formerly incarcerated leaders, Cheryl Wilkins and John Valverde, following the ban on incarcerated people’s access to Pell Grants in 1994 and their work to bring college back into their respective facilities. 

Read the story of how two of our Beyond the Bars fellows from the 2016-2017 cohort have remained close friends since first meeting during the fellowship

On September 10, the Center for Justice joined Kathy Boudin's family and friends in celebrating her life and reflecting on her legacy. 

The National Executive Council at the Center for Justice partnered with The CUNY Graduate Center to highlight structural incarceration

In June, over 70 women from across the country who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system gathered in New Orleans for a celebration of sisterhood.

On Saturday, July 30 the Center for Justice at Columbia University partnered with Community Justice Alliance and New Settlement Community Center to host our 3rd Annual Anti-Gun Violence Rally.

The application period for the next cohort of the Beyond the Bars Fellowship is now open! Please help us spread the word.

Justice Through Code, jointly offered by Columbia University’s Center for Justice, and the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School, is a free coding intensive and serves as a gateway for formerly incarcerated individuals to enter career-track positions in the technology sector.

Expansion Includes $4 Million in grants to support Design and Implement Automatic Record Clearance Technology with Code for America’s Clear My Record Tool, Support Job Placement Through National Urban League’s Urban Tech Jobs Program and Columbia University’s Justice through Code

This year, seven formerly incarcerated students affiliated with Columbia's Center for Justice will graduate from the university.

We want to keep you updated on the many ways our team is working to dismantle injustice and create opportunities for formerly incarcerated leaders to flourish.

Celebrating the life and mourning the loss of our co-founder and co-director Kathy Boudin

Find videos, photos, resources, and more from this year's Beyond the Bars Conference: Movement Building In A World On Fire

Register now for the 2022 Beyond the Bars Conference: Movement Building In A World On Fire, Saturday April 9 in NYC

Join us and the Abolition Caucus at Columbia School of Social work for an advocacy fair connecting Columbia students to campaigns and efforts towards decarceration, abolition, restorative justice, and more!

We are seeking a Project Manager for Project Restoration, a collaboration with Bridge Street Development Corporation and the Center for Justice. 

Host of CUNY TV's One to One Sheryl McCarthy sits down with Roslyn Smith and Esther Cohen to discuss the "Right/Write to Heal" Initiative, a writing group for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. 

This year's Beyond the Bars Conference will be at Riverside Church in New York City and live-streamed

New report from the Center for Justice compiles and analyzes data on in-custody deaths in New York State between 1976 and 2020 and offers policy recommendations for curtailing the number of deaths behind bars.

This year's conference will take place virtually. The theme is Towards Freedom: Violence, Safety, and Abolition 2021. 

A fiscal analysis of pending justice reforms in New York State finds that implementing them would collectively save and/or generate an estimated $1.52 billion for the state annually.

From Prison to Programming: Justice Through Code Provides a Pathway to Careers in Tech

Merch for the 2021 Beyond The Bars conference is now available! Get your BTB swag in time for the conference on March 18-21. 

The Center for Justice is seeking a Program Coordinator to support the development and implementation of the Justice Beyond Punishment Collaborative.

The new, special edition issue of Synapsis Journal features auto-ethnographies of incarceration, Covid-19, and surviving lockdown with poetry, songs, non-fiction pieces, and letters written by Justice-in-Education Scholars. 

Sign up now for Responding Restoratively: An Introduction to Restorative Principles and Practices with CSSW lecturer Sethu Nair. 

Justice Ambassadors Youth Council (JAYC) is a platform for 18 to 24 year olds, who have been previously justice-involved and youth residing in New York City, to participate in an eight week, structured classroom setting with city officials to hold conversations about challenging community issues, including racial inequality, poverty, trauma, and to co-develop policy proposals. 

Are you formerly incarcerated and want to learn how to code and explore jobs in the tech industry? We are currently accepting students for our Justice Through Code program for the spring semester. 

Justice Through Code has teamed up with software development agency Emergent Works to provide job opportunities for JTC graduates as they work alongside seasoned software engineers.

The Center for Justice joined the Mayor's Office Young Men's Initiative, Life Camp, Save Our Streets and many others for a march toward community safety and to empower youth to explore alternatives to violence.

Justice Through Code and Coursera have teamed up to provide free life-changing access to online educational experiences to formerly incarcerated and justice-involved individuals.

The Task Force stood in front of the Rikers Island sign at the entrance to the Rikers Island Bridge, calling for an end to abuse by Corrections staff and release for the women still detained at the Rose M. Singer Center

Manual allows prosecutors and colleges to replicate the Inside Criminal Justice program, a seminar-style college course in which prosecutors and incarcerated students study together inside prisons.

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 criminalization and incarceration, and creating a more just and safe world. 

The Justic Ambassadors Youth Council builds on the leadership skills of previously disenfranchised youth and provides them with the opportunity to become drivers of democratic change within their community.

On Thursday morning, July 16, Justice Through Code Program Manager Aedan Macdonald appeared on Digital Trends Live to share about how the program increases tech opportunities for formerly incarcerated people. Digital Trends is a tech news, lifestyle, and information website that publishes news, reviews, guides, how-to articles, descriptive videos, and podcasts about technology and consumer electronics products. Each week they host a live news show about the latest tech news, products, and more. Aedan was interviewed for a ten-minute segment about how offering coding courses to formerly incarcerated people can create more sustainable careers. 

Participants in the #WhatAboutHer? Rally shared the stories of women who have been brutalized or died by police or corrections brutality.

NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Program is accepting applications. The program awards $1,000 scholarships to selected NYCHA residents enrolled as undergraduates at the City University of New York (CUNY). The deadline to apply is July 23, 2020.

Are you formerly incarcerated and want to learn how to code and explore jobs in the tech industry? We are currently accepting students for our Justice Through Code program for the fall semester. 

Faculty and scholars from universities and colleges across New York City pen a letter to City Council Speaker and Members calling for a $1 billion cut from the NYPD budget and for reinvestment into communities

Over 120 Columbia Scholars Write Open Letter to Governor Cuomo Urging Immediate Release of Incarcerated People Vulnerable to COVID-19.

We want to thank so many of you for joining us at Beyond the Bars 2020.  It was an incredible few days to gather together to connect and to plot on the world we want, and to navigate the world we are in.  

Join us in the first of several calls to action coming out of Beyond the Bars 2020.  First up is supporting the work of the Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) Campaign to get emergency clemencies granted in NYS prisons for those at serious risk of being harmed by COVID-19. 

More than 40 current and former probation and parole executives from across the country, as well as The National Association of Probation Executives, released a statement today providing guidance to limit the threat of coronavirus. The statement is the first attempt by corrections officials across jurisdictions to limit the impact of coronavirus on the U.S. through correctional population reduction measures. 

This year's theme aims to explore strategies for challenging a carceral society.  Register and join us March 5th - 8th. 

The inaugural Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter Lecture Series at Columbia University sponsored by The African American and African Diaspora Studies Department prompted discussions of education and incarceration.

Ending Torturous Conditions, Decarceration and Closing Prisons
Building Solidarity and Justice from Mississippi to New York

We are so excited about our 10th annual Beyond the Bars Conference and we can't wait for so many of you to join us. 

Registration for the conference is free and open to all.  Registration will be up by February 14th so please check back here or sign up for our newsletter on the homepage. 

This year’s Beyond the Bars conference (March 5-8, 2020 in New York City) aims to explore the issue of strategies in challenging a carceral society.

It is our hope that Beyond the Bars 10 will be a generative space to surface and explore where the movement stands today, discuss a range of strategic issues, and further our freedom plans towards transforming the society in which we live. 

On our 10th year of the annual Beyond the Bars Conference, we are excited to gather with a broad range of activists, organizers, practitioners, students, educators, faculty, impacted people and community members, to grapple with movement building strategies for challenging a carceral society.

We are also excited to invite proposals for organizing workshops for Sunday March 8th.  You can click the link below to learn more about this year's conference as well as the request for proposals. 

The Collective Leadership Institute is inspired by our radical hope to strengthen the leadership of formerly incarcerated and directly impacted women, and expand their capacity to contribute to the women’s justice movement to end mass incarceration.

We are excited to announce the dates for Beyond the Bars 2020! Mark your calendars! Save the Date!
 

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. Apply now!

Olivia Heffernan profiles the inaugural Justice Ambassadors cohort. 

The co-founder, Jarrell Daniels, 24, modeled the program on the Inside Criminal Justice program–a partnership between the Manhattan DA’s Office, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and Columbia University, in which he took part toward the end of a six-year prison sentence he began at age 18.

New Columbia Initiative Brings Together New York Criminal Justice Officials with Local Youth to Address Issues of Mass Incarceration. Jointly authored policy proposals to be presented at Columbia University’s Inaugural Justice Ambassadors Youth Council Summit on June 11th.