Following the tragic accidental death of her five-year-old son, Susan’s world collapsed. Her loss snapped the final tether of resilience burdened by a past of pain and trauma. She descended into an emotional abyss of darkness and despair, yet was not offered the resources needed to heal. Without support, she turned to drugs and alcohol which led to nearly 20 years revolving through cycles of incarceration.
Drawing on her personal experiences, she founded A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project (ANWOL) in 1998 - dedicating her life to helping others break the cycle of incarceration. ANWOL provides resources such as housing, case management, employment, legal services, leadership development and community organizing on behalf of, and with, people who struggle to rebuild their lives after incarceration.
Susan has earned numerous awards and honors for her work. In 2010, she was named a CNN Top Ten Hero and received the prestigious Citizen Activist Award from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is a recipient of both the Encore Purpose Prize (2012) and the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award (2014). In 2015, on the 50th Anniversary of Selma and the Voting Rights Act, Susan Burton was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of eighteen New Civil Rights Leaders in the nation. Released in 2017, her memoir, Becoming Ms. Burton received a 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in the category of Biography/Autobiography. Becoming Ms. Burton is also the recipient of the inaugural Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice.
Dr. Breea Willingham is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at SUNY Plattsburgh. Her teaching and research areas include women in the criminal justice system, black women’s prison writing, higher education in women’s prisons, the impact of incarceration on families, and race and crime. Dr. Willingham worked as a newspaper reporter for 10 years in the Carolinas and Upstate New York before entering academia. Two of Dr. Willingham’s books – a monograph titled What Good Would a College Degree Do for These Women? The Paradox and Politics of Higher Education in Women’s Prisons and an edited collection titled Punishment and Society will be published later this year.
Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Smallwood, Esq. is the Associate Director and Postdoctoral Fellow of the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative at Vanderbilt Divinity School. She earned her PhD from Chicago Theological Seminary, May, 2017 in Theology, Ethics, and Human Sciences. Dr. Smallwood, a graduate of North Carolina Central School of Law, is a former criminal defense lawyer having worked both privately and in the public domain for more than 20 years. She is experienced as a former Assistant District Attorney as well as a private practitioner in North Carolina.
While serving as an Associate Minister at Israel Baptist Church, Washington, DC she successfully wrote a grant through CSOSA – Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency– to develop programs for the transition of formerly incarcerated persons to their families, homes, and neighborhoods. There, she gained a deeper appreciation for the myriad ways people are “othered.” To that end, Dr. Smallwood engaged her community in Chicago, while matriculating, by serving as a consultant for the Workers Center for Racial Justice. In that capacity, she worked with community organizers on a “Ban the Box” initiative, the “Fight for $15,” student equity for formally incarcerated mothers seeking to obtain their degrees, A Just Harvest – a community kitchen to feed homeless and transient citizens, and numerous protests against police brutality. One such protest, “I Shocked the Sherriff,” a non-violent, direct, community action, brought light to the corruption surrounding the death and investigation of the LaQuan McDonald murder-by-police. Her work with the formerly incarcerated resulted in her receipt of the Henry W. Edgerton Civil Rights Award presented to her by Senator Tim Kaine at the National Press Club. This award, conferred by the ACLU, is the organization‘s recognition for a distinguished career as an active defender and supporter of civil liberties. At Vanderbilt, Dr. Smallwood is building a national network of racial justice proponents for collaborations that will critically strategize for the future to dismantle racial injustice in every form.
panel 1: carceral logics, carceral shadows
Nyle Fort is a minister and organizer based in Newark, NJ. He has worked in the fields of education, criminal justice, and youth development for nearly a decade in various capacities including: Youth Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, American Friends field worker at Union County Juvenile Detention Center, and research fellow at the St. Andrew Centre in Southern India.
A freedom fighter committed to global transformative justice, Nyle brings his national experience and international lens to his local work. He recently travelled to Ferguson, Missouri to help build the Movement for Black Lives. Upon his return home, Nyle created Strange Fruit Speaks: a black church liturgy commemorating the last words of African Americans killed by police and vigilantes. Furthermore, he established Newark Books and Breakfast: a monthly political education program providing free books and breakfast to local youth and families. Most recently, Nyle participated in the Vatican’s III World Meeting of Popular Movements, a joint initiative of Pope Francis and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to promote international solidarity across movements for social change. In addition to his organizing work, Nyle has spoken at various academic, cultural, and religious institutions including Harvard University, University of Amsterdam, the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Center (former Audubon Ballroom), and Riverside Church. His writings are featured in several academic presses including Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy and Socialism and Democracy as well as various popular media outlets including The Nation, The Guardian, Ebony and more. Nyle received a BA in English from Morehouse College and a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student in religion and African American studies at Princeton University.
Recognized as a White House Champion of Change and one of Pacific Standard Magazine's Top 30 Thinkers Under 30, Talila engineers & leads innovative and intersectional social justice campaigns that illuminate and address grave injustices within our legal system that have gone unaddressed for generations. For over a decade, Talila has been entrenched in anti-violence, decarceration & prison abolition work that highlights and addresses the nexus between race, class, disability and structural inequity--focusing in particular, on people with multiply marginalized identities. As one of the only people in the world working on deaf wrongful conviction cases, Talila regularly presents at universities; testifies before legislative & regulatory bodies; and trains members of congress, attorneys, and law enforcement about this and other disability-related topics. As the creator of the only national deaf prisoner database, Talila advocates with & for hundreds of deaf defendants and incarcerated & returned individuals.
Talila co-founded & serves as the volunteer director of Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf communities (HEARD), an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that works to correct & prevent deaf wrongful convictions; end abuse of incarcerated people with disabilities; decrease recidivism for deaf and returning individuals; nd increase representation of deaf people in professions that can combat mass incarceration. Talila also serves as a consultant on education and workplace inclusion; an expert on cases involving deaf/disabled people; and previously served as the Givelber Public Interest Lecturer at Northeastern University School of Law and as a visiting professor at Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf. As a founding member of the Harriet Tubman Collective and the co-creator of Disability Solidarity praxis has spent most of 2017 traveling the "United States," specifically to exchange knowledge with marginalized communities; visit incarcerated deaf/disabled people; and bake for "love, life & liberation" under the moniker Sweet Solidarity. A recent graduate of American University Washington College of Law, Talila has received awards from numerous universities, the American Bar Association, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the American Association for People with Disabilities, the Nation Institute, National Black Deaf Advocates, and EBONY Magazine, among others.
Sahar Aziz is Professor of Law, Chancellor’s Social Justice Scholar, and Middle East and Legal Studies Scholar at Rutgers University Law School. Professor Aziz’s scholarship adopts an interdisciplinary approach to examine intersections of national security, race, and civil rights with a focus on the adverse impact of national security laws and policies on racial, ethnic, and religious minorities in the U.S. She is the founding director of the interdisciplinary Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Civil Rights, and a faculty affiliate of the Department of Political Science at Rutgers University-Newark. She teaches courses on national security, critical race theory, evidence, torts, and Middle East law.
Professor Aziz’s academic articles have been published in the Harvard National Security Journal, Nebraska Law Review, George Washington International Law Review, Penn State Law Review, and the Texas Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Journal. Her book The Muslim Menace: The Racialization of Religion in the Post-9/11 Era is forthcoming with Harvard University Press. In 2015, Professor Aziz was named an Emerging Scholar by Diverse Issues in Higher Education and recipient of the Derrick Bell Award from the American Association of Law Schools Minority Section. In 2017, she was selected as the recipient of the Research Making an Impact Award by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU). Professor Aziz’s commentary has appeared in the New York Times, CNN.com, Carnegie Endowment’s Sada Journal, Middle East Institute, Foxnews.com, World Politics Review, Houston Chronicle, Austin Statesmen, The Guardian, and Christian Science Monitor. She is a frequent public speaker and has appeared on CNN, BBC World, PBS, CSPAN, MSNBC, Fox News and Al Jazeera English. She is a blogger for the Huffington Post and the Race and the Law Profs blog. She also served on the board of the ACLU of Texas and as a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution – Doha. Professor Aziz earned a J.D. and M.A. in Middle East Studies from the University of Texas where she was as an associate editor of the Texas Law Review. Professor Aziz clerked for the Honorable Andre M. Davis on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
panel 2: Probation and Parole: Punishment Beyond the Prison
Keesha M. Middlemass, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Trinity University (San Antonio, Texas). Middlemass conducts research on race, institutions, public policy, and marginalized populations. Her recently published book, Convicted & Condemned: The Politics and Policies of Prisoner Reentry (NYU Press, 2017), is a significant interdisciplinary and mixed methods contribution to the study of prisoner reentry, politics, public policies, and race. Middlemass advances our understanding of prisoner reentry through the use of participant observations, in-depth interviews, and archival research to triangulate the lived experiences of former prisoners with the politics of public policies. Convicted & Condemned weaves together personal narratives and public policies to demonstrate that the barriers created by a felony conviction leads to food insecurity, restricted access to public housing, and inadequate education and employment opportunities. In addition to the policy barriers,individuals coming home from prison have limited social capital. This holistic approach to prisoner reentry helps us move beyond traditional reentry studies to fill in critical gaps about what we did not previously know about prisoner reentry and the immediate consequences of public policies and the impact they have on men and women convicted of a felony. Professor Middlemass is currently exploring food insecurity in the returning prisoner population. Her research is published in Aggressive Behavior, Criminal Justice & Behavior, The Prison Journal, Punishment & Society, and International Journal of Eating Disorders. Professor Middlemass is a former Andrew Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow on Race, Crime and Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice in New York City and a former American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow.
Olinda Moyd, Esq. is Chief Attorney of the Parole Division, D.C. Public Defender Service. She has been an attorney at the Public Defender Service since January 1990, initially assigned to the Prisoner’s Rights Division. In this capacity, Olinda represented D.C. residents imprisoned in Lorton, Virginia, at both administrative hearings and in individual and class action litigation before local and federal courts challenging 8th Amendment and other constitutional violations.
Since 1998, Olinda has been assigned to the Parole Division and in August 2003, she was appointed Division Chief. Olinda leads a team of attorneys who provide fervent legal representation and advocacy to District residents facing imprisonment through revocation of their parole or supervised release by the U.S. Parole Commission. During her experience in representing prisoners and parolees, Olinda has become passionately aware of the overwhelming number of poor people and people of color who flood the criminal justice system: either in prison or jail, or those subjected to restrictive supervision conditions while in the community. While individuals who are released to the community may be free of physical restraints, the intensive supervision to which they are subjected is often over burdensome and presents significant challenges to their families, communities and tends to thwart successful reentry. She recently proposed, developed, and moderated a conference session at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, 2017 Annual Conference titled Parole, Probation & Supervised Release: The Other Loss of Liberty in December 2017.
After graduation from The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law, Olinda worked in the Legal Department of the NAACP National Headquarters and then at the ACLU National Prison Project. She has dedicated her legal career to representing the most under-represented persons in our society; those who are incarcerated and those persons facing loss of liberty. Olinda was also a visiting professor at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, where she co-taught the Prisoner’s Rights and Advocacy Clinic. Olinda served as the coordinator of Legal Services, was a board member and member of the scholarship committee at Our Place, DC. She continues to serve as a board member of the Pauline Sullivan Scholarship Fund which provides educational scholarships to women in prison and those recently released from incarceration. Olinda has volunteered in several Maryland institutions for decades as a teacher, self-help group leader and she currently teaches parole education and legal writing to men serving life sentences at the Maryland Correctional facility in Jessup. She founded the Maryland Prison Renewal Committee, a community-based prisoner support and advocacy group, which is now the Maryland Justice Policy Institute, Inc. Olinda is a member of the bar of Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the United States Supreme Court.
Reuben Jonathan Miller, PhD, is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration (SSA) and a faculty affiliate in the university’s Center for the Study of Race Politics and Culture. Dr. Miller’s research examines life at the intersections of race, poverty, crime control, and social welfare policy. He has conducted fieldwork in Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Belgrade and Glasgow, and his research has been published widely across academic fields. His book based on 15 years of fieldwork and practice, titled Halfway Home, will be published in the fall of 2019 and he is launching a comparative study of punishment and social welfare policy in port cities along the transatlantic slave trade route. A native son of Chicago’s South Side, Dr. Miller received his PhD from Loyola University Chicago, an AM from the University of Chicago and a BA from Chicago State University.
panel 3: police violence and alternatives to policing
Alex S. Vitale is Professor of Sociology and coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College. He has spent the last 25 years writing about policing and consults both police departments and human rights organizations internationally. He also serves on the New York State Advisory Committee of the US Commission on Civil Rights. Prof. Vitale is the author of City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New York Politics and the The End of Policing. His academic writings on policing have appeared in Policing and Society, Police Practice and Research, Mobilization, and Contemporary Sociology. He is also a frequent essayist, whose writings have appeared in the NY Daily News, NY Times, The Nation, Gotham Gazette, and The New Inquiry.
Professor Vitale is originally from Houston, Texas and received his BA in Cultural Anthropology and Urban Studies from Hampshire College and his Ph.D. in Sociology from the CUNY Graduate Center.
Ricardo “Cobe” Williams works as Deputy Director for Cure Violence, selected as one of the top 10 NGOs by Global Journal in 2013. Cobe travels the globe and the US training violence interrupters in mediation and conflict resolution strategies for Cure Violence. He provides training for 52 sites in 23 cities in the United States disproportionately impacted by violence, including Chicago, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. Cobe began his career with CeaseFire Illinois, the Cure Violence partner organization in Chicago as a violence interrupter in Englewood on Chicago’s south side. His work was chronicled in the 2011 award-winning film “The Interrupters” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and aired on PBS’ FRONTLINE in January, 2012 as a two-hour special. The film was selected by New Yorker magazine, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly and the LA Times as one of the best films of 2011.
Internationally, Cobe has adapted the violence prevention model to different environments. He has provided training in shantytowns in Trinidad and Tobago, Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica, among indigenous populations in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the first successful adaptation of the Cure Violence model in prison. In 2013, the Cookham Wood Youth Offender Institute in southeast England showed sharp decreases in violence, including 95% reduction in group attacks and more than a 50% reduction in all other types of violence directly attributable to the program. More recently, he provided training and adaptation of the model in Nigeria, Africa where extremism and religious conflict contribute to the violence. For these efforts, Cobe received the “Hero Award” from world famous psychologist and renowned speaker Phillip Zimbardo and former Illinois governor Pat Quinn. He has also been recognized by the Mayor of Milwaukee, University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago State University for his work. He has appeared on Vice and Crime Watch Daily. He is in demand as a speaker, presenter and trainer nationally. He has appeared on the TEDX stage, spoken at the U.S. Capitol, the United Nations, the American Bar Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He also appeared at numerous colleges and universities including Notre Dame, Iowa, Loyola, University of Chicago and NEIU. He also regularly gives motivational talks to high school students, juvenile detention centers, and nonprofit organizations.
Cobe’s passion for helping and mentoring urban youth has enabled him to make a significant impact through CeaseFire Illinois and Cure Violence nationally and internationally. He is now one of three Cure Violence trainers who deploy globally to train new violence interrupters and outreach workers at Cure Violence partner program sites throughout the world. He is married and lives in a Chicago suburb with his wife Andrea, a nurse, and their four children.
Eugene Puryear is a Washington, D.C.-based activist. As a high school student in Charlottesville, Va, Eugene organized a walkout when the war in Iraq began in 2003, and helped to organize a number of the large-scale demonstrations that took place against the continuing U.S. war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a key leader In the struggle to free the Jena Six in 2007, was a founder of the anti-gentrification group Justice First as well as the Jobs Not Jails coalition, DC Ferguson Movement and Stop Police Terror Project-D.C. Puryear is also the author of the book Shackled and Chained: Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America.
WORKSHOPS: COMBATTING THE SHADOWS
workshop a: “Earth Liberation Not Mass Incarceration”: Building Momentum at the Intersections of Abolition and the Environment
Shandre Delaney advocates with Human Rights Coalition and Abolitionist Law Center in Pittsburgh and Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike in Philadelphia and London. She has been an organizer campaigning for human and civil rights of prisoners for 15 years. She is coordinator of the Justice for Dallas 6 Support campaign, a national and international intersectional network of organizations. She is mother of Carrington Keys, one of the Dallas 6, a group of jailhouse lawyers and whistleblowers who were charged with riot for peacefully protesting abuse of prisoners at SCI Dallas in Dallas, Pennsylvania. Because of the Dallas 6 fight for justice, she and other family members, prisoners and activists formed the Prisoner Justice and Whistleblower Support Campaign. This project was formed to protect prisoners and jailhouse lawyers facing retaliation and abuse for their activism and peaceful resistance.
Mr. Carrington Keys is a prisoner in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) who was Incarcerated at the age of 18 in 1999. Because he is a jailhouse lawyer and activist behind the prison walls, he was held in solitary for nearly 10 years, where he endured many years of torture and environmental injustice. Due to him being an advocate for human and civil rights of himself and others, he became a political prisoner who is now 18 years beyond his minimum sentencing. In 2010, he and 5 others became known as the Dallas 6 for staging a peaceful protest in solitary confinement which ended in them being brutally beaten and charged with riot. After a 7 year court battle, the men were exonerated of these charges. He has written books on business, politics and prisoner struggles and has spoken via phone to classes and organizations about his life. Currently, he awaiting an appearance before the Pennsylvania Parole Board.
Melissa Legge is an Equal Justice Works fellow at Earthjustice’s Northeast Office in New York. Her fellowship project aims to use the power of environmental law to fight for environmental justice for the incarcerated. Melissa received her law degree from Yale Law School and a Master’s of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in May 2017. While in law school, Melissa spent summers at Earthjustice, the public interest energy law firm Spiegel & McDiarmid, and Environmental Defense Fund in Washington, D.C. During the school year, she was student in the Environmental Justice Clinic, a teaching fellow in the Environmental Protection Clinic, and a co-Director of the Temporary Restraining Order Project. Prior to law school, Melissa was an organizer at the consulting firm Grassroots Solutions in Minneapolis, Minnesota, working on federal energy and agricultural policy and other progressive campaigns. She received an A.B. in Environmental Studies and American Culture Studies in 2010 from Washington University in St. Louis. Her hometown is St. Johnsbury, Vermont, in Vermont’s beautiful Northeast Kingdom.
Jordan E. Mazurek is a national organizer with the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons. He’s been organizing for a hot minute with experience in areas as diverse as environmentalism, housing justice, labor struggles, racial justice, and working to reign in the prison industrial slave complex. He is currently an Erasmus+: Erasmus Mundus Fellowship holder pursuing a Ph.D. in Cultural and Global Criminology at the University of Kent, UK and University of Hamburg, Germany.
workshop B: Bail Reform: Critical Decarceration Effort or Rise of a New Surveillance State (or both)?
Alexander Shalom is Senior Supervising Attorney at the ACLU-NJ. In that role, Alex primarily litigates cases on issues that disproportionately impact people of color. He appears in state and federal trial and appellate courts on cases addressing important criminal justice issues. In the last few years he has appeared more than thirty-five times before the New Jersey Supreme Court on cases focusing on issues including the pretrial justice, right to counsel, sentencing, and search and seizure. Before joining the ACLU-NJ, Alex worked as an Assistant Deputy Public Defender in Essex County. In 2017, the New Jersey Law Journal named him the Attorney of the Year.
Mike Dashman is an attorney, mediator and a zealous advocate for restorative justice. She is the Founding Director of Restorative Justice Initiative, a Partner Project of the Fund for the City of New York. Restorative Justice Initiative is a citywide, multi-sector advocacy project promoting restorative principles and practices in New York City’s neighborhoods, courts and schools. Mika has been awarded the David Lerman Memorial Fund Fellowship in Restorative Justice by the Project for Integrating Law, Spirituality and Politics in both 2015 and 2017.
Mika is a New York State-certified mediator and she has mediated criminal court cases and facilitated community conferences through the New York Peace Institute. Mika also facilitates peacemaking/community-building circles for organizations, student and professional groups. Her restorative justice teachers include: Lauren Abramson, Kay Pranis, Dominic Barter, Eric Butler, Ray Deal and Sara Whitehorse.
Prior to beginning her work in alternative dispute resolution, Mika spent more than six years providing direct legal services to indigent individuals at several New York City non-profits, including Housing Works, Inc., where she also worked on all aspects of the agency’s civil rights impact docket. Mika received her J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law in 2005 and her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.
Erich Kussman is a graduate of Pillar College and recieved a Bachelor's Degree in Biblical Studies. He is pursuing a Masters in Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is an author, activist, and public speaker. He grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey. Erich has spent 12 years in the NJ State prison system. He has articles published in magazines such as "First Things" and "Conspire!" He has years of experience in prison ministry. He currently serves as the chaplain at Community Access Unlimited in Elizabeth, NJ. He is also a Vicar in the ELCA. He is a devoted father and husband. He desires to be the change he wishes to see in the world.