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Beyond the Bars: Closing Jails and Prisons


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Beyond the Bars: Closing Jails and Prisons
March 1-4, 2018

The 8th annual Beyond the Bars Conference of the Center for Justice at Columbia University seeks to contribute to the growing movement to close jails and prisons as a part of the larger struggle to end mass incarceration. In particular, we will focus on elevating the efforts led by grassroots organizers that include formerly incarcerated and directly impacted people. 

Prison and jail closings have been taking place unevenly throughout the United States over the past decade. However, campaigns like the ones in New York, Los Angeles, and Milwaukee have helped to usher in a new phase, one that highlights the role of grassroots organizing and directly impacted leadership, and that has begun to put forth a more transformative vision of how to close jails and prisons and what comes in their place. Momentum for lasting change is building. Organizers, activists and scholars have been grappling with many of the deeply seeded issues related to incarceration and criminalization. From the movement to close youth prisons entirely, to centering the fight for racial justice, to highlighting the ways that women and lgbtq community are impacted, to focusing on the elderly inside prisons with long sentences that are about punishment not safety, to interrogating the effectiveness of punishment in reducing violence, we are at a moment where we are able to make concrete advances in reducing the carceral footprint.  

It is our hope that this conference will bolster these efforts in the following ways:

  • Convene and support a national network of people and organizations working to close jails and prisons across the country
  • Help articulate a vision and analysis for closing jails and prisons and what comes in its place
  • Address and examine some of the difficult issues and questions that arise in the efforts to close jails and prison
  • Further catalyze university involvement in the struggle to end mass incarceration

Program schedule: 

Thursday, March 1stEnding the Incarceration of Women and Girls
Columbia Law School, doors at 6:15PM - event starts at 6:30PM

Friday, March 2ndBuilding the Movement with Patrisse Khan-Cullours
Lerner Hall, Columbia University, doors at 6:45PM– event starts at 7:30PM 

Saturday, March 3rdClosing Jails and Prisons
Columbia School of Social Work, registration begins at 8:30AM - panels start at 9:30AM

Sunday, March 4thBuilding the Grassroots
Columbia School of Social Work, registration begins at 9:30AM - program starts at 10:00AM

The conference is free and open to the public.

For more information and/or to register, CLICK HERE.