Criminal Justice Caucus

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Information about Conference Event Locations 

Friday night’s Kick Off Location: Lerner Hall at Columbia University – Friday April 5th  7:00pm – 9:30pm (Doors at 6:00pm)
(enter from the Broadway entrance)
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027 

Saturday’s Panels and Workshops Location: Columbia University School of Social Work – Saturday April 6th  10:00am – 5:30 pm (Registration at 9:00am)
1255 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027

Sunday’s Student Group Summit Location: Columbia University School of Social Work – Sunday April 5th  1:00pm – 4:00pm 
1255 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027

Information about Saturdays Panels and Workshops 

Morning Panels:

Panel #1: Challenging the Punishment Paradigm

The punishment paradigm has long served as a driving force in the criminal justice system, and with 11 children arrested daily in New York City schools in 2012 and record high rates of deportations over the last several years, the effects of the punishment paradigm are being increasingly felt outside of the criminal justice system.  The Punishment Paradigm Panel will bring together advocates to discuss the history of punishment in the U.S. and the influence of the punishment paradigm in our school, prison, and immigration systems.  Speakers will address the effects of the punishment paradigm in their fields and develop a dialogue with audience members to explore resistance to the influence of the punishment paradigm in our communities and our daily experiences.

Panel #2: Beyond the Bars: Visions for Moving Forward

This panel will explore possibilities that go beyond a reliance on punishment. Speakers will speak about existing programs that rely on a paradigm of human development and support, prison abolition, and frameworks that move away from criminalizing people and their behavior and instead look through different lenses, such as public health or human rights and human justice. There will be the opportunity to listen to an international perspective in terms of alternative approaches to sentencing, prison conditions and redefining what is defined as a “crime” and who is a criminal. It can be difficult to imagine an alternative and this panel will help open up a different vision.

Afternoon Panels and Workshops:

Block #1: 2:15-3:45pm

Another World in Our Hearts, Community Alternatives to Incarceration

The goal of this workshop is to explore New York’s current alternative o incarceration (ATI) programming structure and the current condition of communities struggling with mass incarceration. With at least 165 DCPA funded ATI programs in the state, New York continues to remain one of the largest incarceration states.  In New York alone, there has been an exponential rise of poverty, food insecurity, homelessness and incarceration over the last 25 years in communities of color. These increases have led to the creation of several ATI programs, which have neither curbed the trends of incarceration nor provided adequate resources to prevent recidivism rates in communities most affected by mass incarceration. This workshop will explore current ATI programs and ways to develop new strategies to approaching alternatives. The workshop will explore the economic and societal realities that affect these communities and the impact of ATI programs in these communities. There will be a discussion on the value and effectiveness of both grassroots community alternatives and large institutionalized alternatives. The workshop will consist of a panel, Q& A, and end with providing information about ways for participants to get involved.

Beyond Police Accountability: Creating Change from the Streets to City Hall

During the past two years policing has become a hot-button issue in New York City, with NYPD practices, such as Stop and Frisk, in the news regularly. However, the NYPD remains a deadly force, having killed 22 people in 2012. Communities are under siege; the racial disparities well-documented.  While lawsuits, city council and the mayoral race often get top billing in the media, the real battle is taking place in the streets, often out of sight. Our panel of activists will share their personal stories, discuss the intersection of policing and mass incarceration, and outline ways for you to stand up against police brutality.

Serving Time on the Outside – Mass Incarceration and Its Consequences for Families

In the era of mass incarceration, the criminal justice system touches the lives of millions of children, siblings, caregivers and spouses of incarcerated loved ones each year, who are “serving time” on the outside.   In the United States, 54% of men and women incarcerated are parents to a minor child. 2.7 million children with currently incarcerated parents live on the outside. Additionally, the lives of siblings, caregivers and spouses are also deeply affected by their loved ones incarceration.  This panel will explore the impacts of incarceration on families largely from the voices of family members affected by this system.  The implications for current and future policies, programs and services will also be examined.

Possibility, Promise, and the Prison to College Pipeline

Knowledge–as achieved through and beyond formal education structures–is a match capable of igniting recovery and redemption, sparking resistance, and provoking/promoting liberation.  Access to formal education, however, is particularly limited for students with criminal records, who bear the dual burdens of negative perceptions and paralyzing public policies.  These weights are emblematic of the individual and structural challenges that people in this population face as they endeavor to move forward vis-a-vis the attainment higher education.  This panel aims to highlight and speak to such problematic perceptions, policies, and practices, and highlight the promise and possibility that exists within the prison to college pipeline.  The session will begin with a discussion among panelists, followed by small group conversations that draw on the panelists’ dialogue.  Session participants will engage in an analysis of the prison to college pipeline, which will also serve as a site for the exploration the complexities of knowledge, education, and liberation.

Faith Based Communities: Incarceration and Reentry

What role can faith based communities play in supporting people who are inside prison, people in reentry and their families? This panel will discuss how faith and religion can be used to support formerly incarcerated individuals as they re-integrated back in society.  Panelist will explore how faith can be utilized to bring healing to those affected by mass incarceration.

Exploring Restorative Justice Practices from the Community to the State

Restorative justice is an approach to justice that works to meet the needs of all involved in a given crime, including the person charged or convicted, the victim and the community at large.   In restorative justice practices there is a heavy focus on responsibility and accountability.  This presentation will explore several restorative justice practices that are happening at both the community level and at the state level.

Overcoming Barriers: Stories and Strategies for Successful Reintegration into Society

The reentry workshop aims to discuss critical barriers to reentry into society, as well as effective practices in overcoming these barriers. The workshop will feature a panel of formerly incarcerated individuals sharing their reentry experiences and lessons learned, as well as policy specialists describing what is currently being done to combat these barriers from an advocacy standpoint.

Aging in Prison:  Long Termers and Their Effort to Make Parole

The aging population is rapidly growing in prisons yet long termers who constitute a large percentage of those who are aging are consistently denied parole. Many of those who are aging in prison remain incarcerated in spite of acknowledgements of rehabilitation, leadership inside prison, and having the lowest recidivism rate. This workshop will examine the growth of those aging in prison and parole policies that impact the release and ability of long termers to return home.

Block #2: 4:00-5:30pm

Organizing Against Solitary Confinement: A workshop to Educate and Organize Against the Practice of Extreme Isolation and Deprivation in New York’s Jails and Prisons

This workshop will begin with a teach-in about the use of solitary confinement in New York City jails and New York State prisons, to answer the questions: what it solitary confinement? How is it used in New York State? And what are its lasting effects?  The teach-in will be followed by breakout group discussions with organizers currently involved in challenging the use of solitary confinement in city jails and state prisons.  Participants will have opportunities to learn from and collaborate with organizing groups that are taking a stand against the practice of extreme isolation and deprivation.

Juvenile Justice vs. Youth Justice

The panel “Juvenile justice vs. Youth Justice” will explore the juvenile justice landscape. It will hear the voice and experience of one of Central Park Five, listen to the voice of a young person currently involved in the system and discuss major reform campaigns such as raising the age of criminal liability in NYS. Present community stakeholders will participate in this panel looking at the issue of youth justice from the perspective of causes, challenges and opportunities that exist to transform the juvenile justice system.

The Bars that Bind: Health and Mental Health in the Criminal Justice System- Addressing the Consequences of Incarceration on Health

Every 1 in 31 adults is currently behind bars in the United States making issues of incarceration a national issue of concern. Incarceration affects not only those in prisons, but the communities from which they come from and will return. Individuals in prison have higher rates of communicable diseases, and have higher rates of mental illness than the general population. These individuals will return to communities ill equipped to provide them with adequate care thus creating a cycle of health issues and perpetual lack of treatment. This panel will educate participants on the cycle of health and incarceration and address ways to break the bars that bind our communities in perpetual ill health.

Dismantling the Intersection of Immigration and the Criminal Legal Systems – Building an Immigrant Movement for Justice

The growing intersection of immigration and the criminal legal systems has led to millions of deportations, separation of families, and the incarceration and criminalization of non-citizens, particularly poor people of color. Proposed federal and state immigration reforms continue to focus on enforcement, detention and deportation foreshadowing that things will only get worse. During this workshop you will hear from the people who have dedicated themselves to these issues. You will learn how they are organizing communities, advocating for policies, providing services, and creating the art that will not only change the system but dismantle, disrupt and destroy the ties that bind immigrants to the criminal legal system. Together the speakers seek to build the power of immigrant communities and to provide a guiding voice in the growing movement for immigrant rights as human rights.

Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence 

This discussion will explore the history of intimate partner violence and its intersection with the criminal justice system. Presented from the perspective of professionals working in the field and survivors sharing their stories.

Drug Policy in the Era of Mass Incarceration

Join leading researchers and advocates in the field of drug policy and behavioral health services in a critical conversation about the collateral consequences of the War on Drugs—including disproportionate harm to communities of color and the criminalization of addiction—and disconnects between scientific research and the drug classification system that underlies current U.S. drug policy.  Speakers will discuss weakness of current policies and examine future solutions.

The Long Shadow of Incarceration’s Stigma

Criminalization. Stigmatization. Marginalization. These are the lenses through which Americans typically view the millions upon millions of people in the nation who have ever been incarcerated. Such distortions undergird public opinion and policies that shut these men and women out of mainstream society—for the rest of their lives. From discrimination in employment, education and housing to the loss of voting and travel rights, the stigma makes its weight felt. The human and economic costs are incalculable. This workshop will feature a screening of the popular documentary short film The Long Shadow of Incarceration’s Stigma and a rich conversation about what we all can do NOW to end the stigma.

BeyondtheBars – Save the Date


  1. Thomas lARSON says:

    Look forward to attending the seminar- 4/5-4/6.

  2. […] Beyond the Bars: Moving Forward is this weekend, the third annual Conference on Criminal Justice at the Columbia School of Social Work.  The conference begins with speakers Angela Davis, Marc Lamont Hill, and Soffiyah Elijah with special guest performers throughout the evening.  Registration necessary, and more information about conferences and events is available here. […]

  3. Looking forward to attending.

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