Beyond the Bars 2020 - Registration and Schedule

February 14, 2020

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

Beyond the Bars: Freedom Plans     

Strategies for Challenging a Carceral Society

March 5th-8th, 2020

Register here:

This year's theme aims to explore strategies for challenging a carceral society. Our conference is now 10 years old, as is the book The New Jim Crow. While our movement legacy extends far beyond the past decade, in the past 10 years the movement challenging incarceration and criminalization has grown significantly - in part due to the role of currently and  formerly incarcerated and directly impacted people. On the other hand, the total number of people in jails and prisons in the U.S. has decreased very little, incarceration of people who are undocumented has increased, and criminalization of activism is on the rise. We are at a time when the movement against mass incarceration is one of many social movements mobilizing for justice and liberation, both in the United States and throughout the world. These movements have birthed many possibilities as well as many challenges. It is our hope that Beyond the Bars 2020 will be a generative space to surface and explore strategic issues and further our freedom plans towards transforming the society in which we live.

We hope that Beyond the Bars 2020 will contribute to our collective movement efforts in the following ways:

  • Learn from the strategies and experiences throughout the history of our own movement and that of others
  • Surface and examine critical issues that our movement is currently facing, including differences in visions and strategies, the ever growing size and diversity of people and organizations within the movement, liberatory reforms, abolition, and more
  • Consider the role of electoral politics, the 2020 election, and people in positions of state power, in challenging a carceral society
  • Make visible the existing solidarity across movements and borders, and support new solidarities
  • Highlight and consider the role of particular movement efforts and strategies such as  participatory defense, jail closure, transformative justice, reform oriented prosecutors, ending death by incarceration and more

Register here:


Thursday Night - Until She's Free: The Energy of Collective Leadership  (Doors at 6:30pm - Event Starts at 7:00pm)  Location: MIST Harlem

Featuring The Graduates, Ivan Calaff, the Women Transcending Collective Leadership Institute.  Hosted by Sharon White-Harrigan.

Friday Night: Building the Movement: Freedom Plans (Doors at 6:45pm – Event Starts at 7:30pm) Location: Lerner Hall, Columbia University

Featuring conversations about movement history and abolition, with Angela Davis, Soffiyah Elijah, Edwin Cortes, Alec Karakatsanis, Derecka Purnell, Erica Meiners, Claudia Muñoz. and Lex Steppling. Performances by Kierah King and Musical Connections. Hosted by Yolanda Johnson-Peterkin.

Saturday - Strategies for Challenging a Carceral Society: Plenaries and Breakout Sessions (Registration and Continental Breakfast Begins at 8:45am - Panels Start at 9:30am)  Location: Columbia School of Social Work

Morning Plenaries (9:30 -12:30pm)

  • Challenging a Carceral Society: Visions, Strategies and Decisions (9:30 - 11:00am) with Kassandra Frederique, Danielle Sered, Andrea James, James Kilgore, Jose Saldana and Nkechi Taifa
  • Electoral Politics and Social Movements: Intersections, Contradictions and Freedom Struggles in 2020 (11:15 - 12:45pm) with Rukia Lumumba, Rachel Gilmer, Jaime Estades, Maurice Mitchell, Chesa Boudin and Barbara Ransby

Lunch (12:45 - 1:45pm)

Afternoon Plenary (1:45 - 3:15pm)

  • Bridging Movements for Justice: Lessons, Solidarities and the Road Ahead with Tia Oros Peters, Peggy Sheppard, Timmy Châu, Andrea Richie, Phal Sok, and Bryonn Bain

Breakout Block  (3:30 - 5:00pm)

  • Closing Jails, Prisons and Detention Centers with Lex Steppling, Reuben Jones, Marilynn Wynn, Bárbara Suarez Galeano and Hernan Carvente
  • Justice Beyond Punishment: Responding to Violence with Richard Cruz, Ejeris Dixon, Iesha Sekou, Deema Nagib and Erika Sasson
  • Ending Death by Incarceration: Strategies to Challenge Long Sentences and Parole Policy with Mark Shervington, Nicole Porter, Romarilyn Ralston, Deborah Coles, Carrington Keys and Amber-Rose Howard
  • Strategies for Resourcing Movements for Justice with Ellen Barry, Tina Reynolds, Cathy Albisa, Dawn Harrington and Susan Shah
  • Participatory Mobilizations Towards Freedom: Courts, Bail and Parole with Tiara Moore, Justine Moore, Michelle Lewin, Katy Naples-Mitchell, and Andrea James
  • 113 Million: Organizing the Power of Families Impacted by a Carceral Society with Ayana Aubourg, Monae Evans, Debbie Kilroy, Joyce McMillan, Soffiyah Elijah and Ebony Underwood

Saturday Evening - Film Screenings and Talkbacks (Films start at 5:30pm) Location: Columbia School of Social Work

  • Clemency (Screening and Talkback with Andrea James, Elaine Bartlett, Naquasia Pollard and Fox Rich, moderated by Keziah Sullivan)
  • We Came To Heal (Screening and Talkback with with Machlie, Philip, Arocks, Cory, Keron, Shaq, Alexander, Gregory and Jayanita from How Our Lives Link Altogether! (H.O.L.L.A!)
  • Undeterred (Screening and Talkback with Activists from Arizona with No More Deaths, Carlotta C. Wray and Jackson Warren Wray)

Sunday Building the Grassroots: Organizing Workshops . (Registration and Continental Break Begins at 9:30am - Program Starts at 10am) Location: Columbia School of Social Work

Opening: 10-11:00am

BLOCK #1 11:15 - 12:30pm

  • Narrative sharing of practices and tools that support healing for people who have been impacted by incarceration and criminalization.Creating Crimmigration: Foreign Born in US Prison
  • #CLEMENCY A Conversation w/ FoxandRob Featuring the Rich Family
  • Voices that Must be Heard
  • The Co-option of Survival: Carceral Feminism as a Tool of Mass Incarceration
  • The Importance of Holistic Reconciliation
  • The Ripple Effect of Healing
  • Show Me The Money: Reintegrating Formerly Incarcerated People/Returning Citizens Into Their Local Economies
  • Investing in Directly Impacted Leadership 
  • I Saw Myself See Myself as Belonging: Self-Liberation for the Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated

LUNCH: 12:30-1:30

BLOCK #2 - 1:30 - 2:45pm

  • Organizing behind the wall. How prison organizing informs community organizing, and helps us understand abolition
  • Second Looks to Second Chances: The Movement to End Life Imprisonment
  • 6Ds Until She's Free - a strategy to end criminalization of women and LGBTQ people of color
  • Creating Space for the Restricted: The Transformative Leadership of System- Impacted Students in Policy, Voting, and Access to Higher Education
  • Resisting Law Enforcement in Re-Entry Spaces
  • Reclaiming My Self: Building Our Capacities for the Movement through Healing
  • Formerly Incarcerated People Organizing in their Workplace: A Conversation about Challenges and Successes in the NYC Construction Industry 
  • Carceral advocacy: lessons from South Africa
  • Countering - Countering Violent Extremism
  • BEYONDrosies2020: A Focus Group
  • Liberated Movement: Theatre of the Oppressed for Education and Transformative Justice

BLOCK #3 - 3:00 - 4:15pm

  • Experiences of Sexual Harm & Including People with Convictions for Sex Offenses in Our Movements 
  • Closing Rikers, What Survivor Of Rikers Island Won. What is next?
  • The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls: National State Clemency Awareness Campaign: “Why #ClemencyWorks: An Essential Tool for Freeing our Comrades"
  • Back to the Basics; Grassroots Organizing 101
  • Developing Effective Messaging to Shift Policy and Gain More Public Support for Justice Campaigns
  • Helping our families & loved ones navigate the Carceral System
  • Community Safety in Crisis 
  • Challenging Incarceration and Barriers to Re-Entry of People with Disabilities
  • Building Political Will for Youth Justice through Art and Advocacy

The power of youth-reported criminal justice journalism


  • I Saw Myself See Myself as Belonging: Self-Liberation for the Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated
  • Liberated Movement: Theatre of the Oppressed for Education and Transformative Justice
  • The power of youth-reported criminal justice journalism