10th Annual Transformative Justice and Abolition Criminology Conference via Zoom February 9, 2024
10th Annual Transformative Justice and Abolition Criminology Conference
9:00am to 5:10pm (Western Time USA)
10:00am to 6:10pm (Mountain Time USA)
11:00am to 7:10pm (Central Time USA)
12:00pm to 8:10pm (Eastern Time USA)
Public, Free, Recorded, and via Zoom
You are invited to a scheduled Zoom Conference on Feb. 9, 2024.
10th Annual Transformative Justice and Abolition Criminology Conference (Free and Public)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 872 8122 8077
Lucas Alan Dietsche
INTERESTED THEMES: Transformative Justice
Critical disability studies
Cultural and Religious intersectionalities
Policy and/or/versus Culture Social Change
Social and Cultural Construction of Disabilities
Fighting Political and Corporate Repression
Being a Scholar-Activist
Decolonizing Movements and Education
Hip Hop Pedagogy, Activism, and Studies
Rhetoric of Health and Wellness
Social Attitudes of Neuroatypicality
Community Justice and Circles
Peace Studies and Making
Conflict Transformation and Resolution
All Speakers have 20 minutes to present with 10 minutes of questions and comments. SUBMIT
All submissions for the conference need to be in a Word Doc. as an attachment in an E-mail with the following information:
1. Title of Presentation
2. Biography third person 80 to 100 words one paragraph
3. Description/Abstract of the presentation around 200 words third person and one paragraph
SEND SUBMISSION TO: Lucas Dietsche email@example.com
Deadline is passed for submissions.
(Based on USA Mountain Time)
10:00am – 6:10pm
1). 10:00am – 10:10am – Welcoming and Introduction
Lucas Alan Dietsche
Biography: Lucas Alan Dietsche is a National Director of Transformative Justice and member of the Division of Convict Criminology. He is a PhD student in Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Theory with a Masters in Criminology researching Poetic Inquiry, zines, taphology, carceral feminism, and Marxist feminist abolition. Dietsche is adjunct professor of Prisoner Education of Adams State University. He was Superior, WI’s first Co-Poet Laureate. His poetry and novella published works include “Word Out: Poems Written Under the Big Top of Dodge and Stanley Correctional Facilities”, “Commies and Zombies”, “Since the Oregon Trail”,“Moods are Like Wisconsin Weather”,”Elba Memoirs of an Ex-Capitalist”, and “Kapshida.” and “for god’s throw away children”. He has published poetry in Transformative Justice Journal, Ariel Anthology, and the co-campagin manager for Gladis the Orca for President-2024.
2). 10:10am – 10:30am – Protecting Children with Mental Disorders in Uganda
Presenter: Doreen Nanyonjo
Biography: Doreen Nanyonjo is a female Ugandan that graduated with a bachelors in human resource management at my career University and she is a co-founder of African Legacy of young generation and NGO that assists children and the youth better than lives in the rural areas of Uganda and this organisation has been running from 2017 to date she has worked with organizations from the USA and that is “Stop the school to prison pipeline” where she and her team have been helping children of the incarcerated persons in Uganda through providing food and other basic needs to these children. She has collaborated with hand to Globe, an organization in the USA where she has been able to reach out to school children in the rural areas of Uganda. She has also worked with children with autism and down syndrome through assisting them with their physical activities and also acquiring some skills in occupational therapy. She is currently working with film impact movement that helps you acquire the knowledge and skills in the film industry.
Abstract: In Uganda, like many other African nations, the well-being of children with mental disorders presents a significant concern that directly impacts the legacy of the young generation. This abstract explores the importance of protecting these vulnerable children, highlighting the need for comprehensive support systems, awareness campaigns, and policy reforms. The prevalence of mental disorders among children in Uganda remains understudied and often overlooked, leading to inadequate resources and limited interventions. Without appropriate care and attention, these children face immense challenges in their personal, social, and academic lives. Additionally, the enduring stigma surrounding mental health issues further exacerbates their struggles, hindering their full integration into society. To ensure they are preserved and strengthened, it is crucial to implement multifaceted approaches that prioritize the well-being of children with mental disorders. This includes the establishment of mental health support services in schools, healthcare facilities, and local communities. By providing accessible and specialized care, these children can receive early intervention, diagnosis, and treatment, enabling them to thrive despite their challenges. Raising awareness and destigmatizing mental health within Ugandan society is imperative. Education campaigns, community engagement, and cultural sensitivity should be emphasized to challenge misconceptions and promote acceptance. By fostering an open dialogue, the barriers to seeking help can be dismantled, enabling children with mental disorders to access the necessary support networks. Policy reforms are also essential in creating a sustainable framework for protecting children with mental disorders. Advocacy for inclusive legislation, increased funding for mental health initiatives, and the integration of mental health into national education and healthcare systems are critical steps in safeguarding them.
10:30am – 10:40am Q and A
3). 10:40am – 11:00am- Locked Away: Texas Civil Commitment
Presenter: Mandi Harner-Brady
Biography: Mandi Harner-Brady is a Texas-grown mother, wife, and advocate residing in San Marcos, Texas. Her future goals include additional advocacy projects and learning the ins and outs of legislation and politics.
Abstract: The number of men in civil commitment increases every year, especially in the state of Texas. This workshop will focus on bringing true change to the civil commitment program and will bring our personal experiences with the Texas Civil Commitment Office out into the open. This presentation will be given as an auto-ethnography from a former security officer and medical assistant at the Texas Civil Commitment Center. This needed insider perspective of the horrendous events that unfold at the Littlefield facility. This presesntation will include a outlook as per a family member civilly commited in Texas.
11:00am-11:10am Q and A
4). 11:10am-11:20am- How to Reduce Mass Incarceration Through Litigation
Presenter: Andy Hope Williams Jr. a/k/a Hood Candidate
Biography: Andy Williams Jr. is an abolitionist and 2024 Presidential applicant for the United States of
America. As a formerly enslaved individual, Andy has used his life experience to become
advocate to abolish slavery by any means necessary. On July 1, 20121, Andy sued the United
States and 30 states for the practice of low-pay and unpaid prison labor. On July 3, 2023, Andy
announced his campaign for President with a platform for Freedom by abolishing legalized
slavery and involuntary servitude once and for all.
Abstract: Modern day prisons system is a form of slavery, just by a different name. We the People have the power to change that. People arrested and in prison have constitutionally protected rights,
just most of them don’t know how to enforce them. Andy will share that our rights are unalienable
and that they come from a Creator and/or Natures God, not the Government. When those rights
have been infringed, we have a right to advocate and seek redress for infringement upon those
our rights. We do this through the Supremacy Clause and Article III of the Constitution, as well
as 1985 (3), the Klux Klan Act which holds prosecutors and judicial officers accountable for
their misconduct. Once presented with the information and put in practice that Andy will share,
we the people can institute a new government by the people, for the people, because we are the
11:20am-11:30am Q and A
5). 11:30am-11:50am- “Decolonizing Criminal Justice Education: A Paradigm Shift in Pedagogy”
Presenter: Cory Rowe
Biography: Dr. Cory Rowe is born, raised, and currently lives in Jackson Heights, NY. She is a
tenured associate professor at LaGuardia Community College where she teaches
courses in criminal justice and corrections as well as courses for credit at Rikers Island.
She has more than twenty years of experience working with incarcerated people,
including adults in prisons, youth in detention centers, and people in jail. Cory holds a
BA in African American Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison an MA in
Criminal Justice, specializing in Juvenile Justice, from John Jay College and a PhD in
Criminal Justice from the CUNY Graduate Center.
Abstract: This study delves into the application of decolonizing pedagogy as a transformative framework
in criminal justice education. Rooted in the belief that internal neocolonial conditions can be
altered through praxis, guided by reflection and transformative measures, the research aims to
amplify marginalized knowledge and reshape discussions about marginalized communities.
Adopting a decolonial perspective, a central focus of this transformative pedagogy involves
including community college students into a jail setting for criminal justice education,
challenging traditional norms, and fostering a shared learning experience among diverse
individuals. This unique integration aligns with decolonizing pedagogy principles, fostering an
inclusive and dynamic educational environment. While existing literature acknowledges the
transformative power of education within the correctional system, this research highlights a
less-explored aspect—the inclusion of community college students in correctional education
programs, specifically in criminal justice courses within jail settings. By shedding light on this
integration, the research contributes to the evolving discourse on decolonial approaches in
transformative education within the criminal justice system.
11:50am-12:00pm Q and A
6). 12:00pm-12:20pm- Building a Rural Abolitionist Feminist Movement
Presenters: Tova Strange (she/her) and Mary Jo Klinker (she/they)
Biography: Tova Strange and Mary Jo Klinker are both small community troublemakers engaged in political education.
Abstract: Abolition feminism offers guiding blueprints to dismantle structures of oppression both nationally and locally. This paper explores a rural abolitionist movement to stop increased surveillance and policing of youth. Using activist political education and local newspaper archives, we will apply SisterSong’s reproductive justice demands to show how parents and students used “the right to raise kids in a safe and healthy environment” to demand the removal of a school resource officer. As Mariame Kaba and Erica Meiners argue in “Arresting the Carceral State”: “…we won’t solve the STPP [school to prison pipeline] problem by simply changing school disciplinary policies. Because many states spend more on prisons than education, we have to change funding priorities as well.” For this reason, we will examine how the removal of resource officers did not offer systemic community change, and it was the demand of collective care that was able to save a youth rec center and stop the building of a juvenile detention center in rural Minnesota.
12:20pm-12:30pm Q and A
7). 12:30pm-12:50pm- Imperfect Victims: Criminalized Survivors and the Promise of Abolition
Presenter: Leigh Goodmark
Biography: Leigh Goodmark (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Marjorie Cook Professor of Law and co-
director of the Clinical Law Program at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, where
she directs the Gender, Prison, and Trauma Clinic. Professor Goodmark is the author of
Imperfect Victims: Criminalized Survivors and the Promise of Abolition Feminism (UC Press
2023), Decriminalizing Domestic Violence: A Balanced Policy Approach to Intimate Partner
Violence (UC Press 2018) and A Troubled Marriage: Domestic Violence and the Legal System
(New York University 2012).
Abstract: For the last forty years, the criminal legal system has been the primary societal response to
gender-based violence (intimate partner violence, rape and sexual assault, and human
trafficking) in the United States. Criminalization was meant to increase understanding of
gender-based violence and decrease the level of violence by changing community norms about
its acceptability. But one of the serious consequences—perhaps the most serious
consequence–of those efforts has been the increased rates of arrest, prosecution, conviction,
and incarceration of those who these changes were meant to protect: victims of violence. So
many victims of violence have been caught up in the criminal legal system in recent years that
an entire movement—known by the hashtag #SurvivedandPunished—has emerged to protest
their revictimization by the criminal legal system. This presentation will describe how victims of
violence become enmeshed in the criminal legal system, beginning with youth and moving
through arrest, prosecution, punishment, and post-sentencing, and argue that the only way to
prevent the criminalization of survival is through abolition feminism.
12:50pm-1:00pm Q and A
8). 1:00pm-1:20pm- Say his name: Bobby Ray Duckworth and intersectional organizing
Presenter: Rae Duckworth
Biography: Rae Duckworth is the current Operating Chairperson for Black Lives Matter Utah Chapter and the President for the Utah Black History Museum. As a family member of police violence, we
continue to stand in solidarity with families and victims of police brutality, as the police are not
our friends. Bobby Ray Duckworth is a cousin to Ms. Duckworth, who was murdered by police
while experiencing a mental health crisis on World Suicide Prevention Day, Sept 10th, 2019.
This tragedy has increased awareness and participation, politically and within the community, in
decolonizing and accepting mental health practices and conversations.
Abstract: Bobby Ray Duckworth was shot several times by officer Garrett Safely while experiencing a physical mental health crisis. The loss of Bobby has altered our family and has increased the awareness of Bobby’s existence and his story. It is necessary to amplify his experiences, his story, and the obstacles he faced while being a victim of the state that ultimately ended his life. Working and studying with goals to support the much needed change. Additional goals include constructing and solidifying paths to becoming and staying a healthy parental example for my child as an aware community member empowered by intersectionality.
1:20pm-1:30pm Q and A
9). 1:30pm-1:50pm- Armed self-defense in the Hawaiian Kingdom:Speculative facts and legal deceptions of the United States occupation
Presenter: Kinikini Lani Lea
Biography: Dr. Lea Lani Kinikini (she/her/ia) is a critical cultural researcher with a PhD degree from University of Auckland in Pacific Studies (2010). She is co-editor of the book series Liberatory Voices from Community Colleges and has recent chapters on Polynesian Lowriders in Lowrider Studies Reader and Reppin’: Native Youth Justice. She currently is director of the Institute for Research & Engaged Scholarship at the University of Hawai’i West Oʻahu, a position which allows her to continue to blend the arts of letters with the deep social impacts of liberation actions.
Abstract: This presentation looks at the difficult truth of the longest running armed occupation of the modern era: the United States military occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom, a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean which has been settled for approximately 2,000 years by Kanaka Maoli, a seafaring nation with permanent boundaries and customary governance systems disrupted and transformed by Euroamerican imperialist incursion. This chapter raises awareness of the occupation of the Hawaiian Islands as a ‘difficult truth’ and discusses the sovereignty and occupation of the Hawaiian Islands alongside the George K. Young vs. The State of Hawaiʻi en banc open carry case in order to examine public sphere rights of defense versus private sphere as two key nuances for understanding and acting on the discursive field and legal ramifications of the Second Amendment.ʻ
1:50pm- 2:00pm Q and A
10). 2:00pm-2:20pm- Close Shadow Prisons: Minnesota and civil commitment
Presenters: Ruby Brewer and Tiffany Minkel
Biography: Ruby Brewer, (MS, LPC, CCATP) is President of TITUS. Tiffany Minkel is Vice-President of TITUS, both are co-founders of the END MSOP group in Minnesota. Brewer has a background as a clinician at MSOP and became acutely aware of the shortcomings in the system designed to treat and rehabilitate individuals. Witnessing the struggles and limitations of the program ignited a fire within Brewer’s need to seek change and reform. Brewer’s experiences allowed her to empathize with the individuals caught within the civil commitment system, motivating her to transition from clinical work to advocacy. On the other side of the spectrum, Minkel’s personal connection to MSOP, through a family member, brought her face-to-face with the human impact of civil commitment. Witnessing the challenges, stigma, and lack of effective treatment options, Minkel was compelled to join forces with Brewer to address the systemic issues plaguing MSOP and similar programs across the nation.
Abstract: In a presentation aimed at dismantling Minnesota’s shadow prisons and sex offense civil commitment, Minnesota and national advocates expose the inefficacy and exorbitant costs of the existing system. After serving a prison sentence, individuals are unjustly confined indefinitely under the guise of treatment, draining resources without preventing sexual harm. The stark reality is that the current system is not only morally questionable but also economically unsustainable. This presentation challenges policymakers and the public to reconsider sex offense civil commitment and the urgent need to close these shadow prisons. Minnesota must adopt a more compassionate and cost-effective approach to post-prison rehabilitation.
2:20pm-2:30pm Q and A
11). 2:30pm-2:50pm- Labels Hinder Formerly Incarcerated Persons
Presenter: David L. Garlock
Biography: David L. Garlock is a successful returning citizen, reentry professional, and criminal justice reform advocate. David enjoys educating the next generation of criminal justice professionals on rehabilitation and advocating in various spheres for an effective and equitable justice system. He is a writer, author and poet who shares his story in many written forms. He is on numerous non-profit boards, along with being a frequent speaker at colleges and universities, criminal and social justice conferences, and community events. He was in the movie Just Mercy in 2020 and presented at TEDx Arcadia in April of 2022.
Abstract: Labeling Theory and Labels are detrimental to those who have ever been incarcerated. Society wants people to come out of prison and to succeed- but labels and the boxes people have to check hinder successful reentry. To help people reenter- we can’t put Scarlet Letters on them, but we need to
humanize them. Do you want to be called a thief, a cheat or a liar for the rest of your life?
2:50pm-3:00pm Q and A
12). 3:00pm-3:20pm- Towards a Hopeful Justice: Transforming Justice for Women with Convictions
Presenter: Ian Mahoney
Biography: Dr Ian Mahoney is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and co-chair of the Critical Criminology and Social Justice research group at Nottingham Trent University. His research adopts a cultural criminological lens and is focused around understanding and addressing the harms and impacts of crime and contact with the justice system across diverse groups including minoritised communities, women
with convictions, and individuals convicted of sexual offences. He has recently co-edited a collection
Holistic Responses to Reducing Reoffending which explores theoretical and conceptual ideas, and
practical examples of ways holistic opportunities can promote desistance, reducing reoffending, and
supporting effective (re)settlement and (re)integration.
Abstract: In the UK Women with convictions (WwC) account for 14 per cent of deaths during post-
release supervision, 35 per cent of which are self-inflicted despite making up less than five
per cent of the prison population. This highlights the extent of WwC’s marginalisation, the
complexity of their needs, and the urgency with which their (re)integration and
(re)engagement within communities must be addressed. It ls also known that WwC’s stories
and experiences of discrimination and marginalisation are often intersectional, shaped by
race, gender and social class in particular. This paper draws upon emerging findings from an
ongoing study, being undertaken in Stoke-on-Trent, UK which is underpinned by a Transformative
Justice approach and delivered viaarts based workshops. The project aims to build a network of
community support for women with lived experience of the criminal justice system. The paper will
outline some of our key ideas and findings to date and consider implications for wider community
building, support, action and engageme
3:20pm-3:30pm Q and A
13). 3:30pm-3:50pm- Critical disability theory, schizophrenia, and transformative justice
Presenter: Jess Bobb
Biography: Bobb graduated in 2020 from Minnesota State Community and Technical College with her Associate’s in Legal Assisting, with a focus on disability law and advocacy. She has been in the psychiatric system since age 8, and uses her experience with serious mental illness to propel others forward. She is currently happily employed at NIAM, LLP, in Fargo, ND, where she is a peer support specialist. She hopes to return to school for a social work degree. In her free time, she enjoys judging speech and debate, reading, a variety of crafts, and being a bunny mom. Bobb has been a mad pride activist all her life.
Abstract: This presentation will discuss how schizophrenia is one of the top ten disabling conditions worldwide on how people with schizophrenia are constantly stigmatized and ostracized. The Prison-industrial complex, non-profit organizations, and other civil organizations have a long history of stigmatization and criminalization of the mentally ill. This research demonstrates the powerlessness of mentally ill and much to the chagrin of the person-centered language creators of the mad pride movement. Sadly, much of the ruling class and prison-industrial complex stigma-creating factors delineate agency over mentally ill advocacy agency and language. This presentation will be an autoethnography of a mad pride activist and institutionally-impacted person. Critical disability theory impacts people specifically with schizophrenia and why transformative justice communities needs to be cognizant of and in solidarity with the mad pride movement .
3:50pm-4:00pm Q and A
14). 4:00pm-4:20pm- Re-humanizing Begins with Your Language
Presenter: Kyle Robinson
Biography: Robinson is a member of Village Second Chances [a community building space made up of advocates and family of incarcerated individuals, where they learn, heal and support each other while also championing Second Look Legislation.
Abstract: In a world where the justice system often defines individuals through stigmatizing labels, this presentation aims to shed light on the transformative power of words. This thematic presentation delves into the impact of language on communities affected by the justice system, emphasizing the need for mindful discourse. As an advocate for prison reform, Robinson explores the crucial role language plays in shaping public perception and dispelling prevalent misconceptions. The objective of this presentation is to educate and empower the audience, primarily comprised of prison reform advocates, to be conscious of the language used when discussing individuals impacted by the justice system. Robinson contends that rehumanization is intrinsically linked to the words we choose, challenging the retrograde term “criminal” and other forms of “otherizing” language. By unveiling the harm inflicted and opportunities for healing embedded in our language, the presentation seeks to initiate a paradigm shift in public discourse.
4:20pm-4:30pm Q and A
15). 4:30pm-4:50pm- Radical Vision for Prison Abolition
Presenter: Jennifer Ortiz
Biography: Jennifer Ortiz is an Associate Professor of Criminology at the College of New Jersey. She earned her Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her research interests
center on structural violence within the criminal justice system with a focus on gangs and reentry
post-incarceration. Her research has been published in leading corrections journals including The
Prison Journal, Corrections: Research, Policy, and Practice, and The Journal of Prisoners on
Prisons. Ortiz is the author of the recently published edited volume Critical & Intersectional
Gang Studies. Ortiz maintains a firm commitment to service and activism. She is currently the
Division Chair for the American Society of Criminology’s Division of Convict Criminology and
Book Review Editor for the Critical Criminology Journal. She previously served as President of
the New Albany, Indiana Human Rights Commission and as an executive board member for
Mission Behind Bars and Beyond, a Kentucky-based non-profit reentry organization. Ortiz is
also the former Research Director for the New York State Permanent Commission on
Abstract: In recent years, citizens of the United States have borne witness to atrocities within the criminal legal system including the public executions of unarmed persons and the horrid state of the
American penal system. The realities of the cruelty that exists within criminal justice have given
rise to a renewed call for abolition, a concept that for decades has existed only in the margins of
critical criminological research. However, abolition remains a controversial term because most
people are uninformed about what abolition entails. The present chapter begins with an auto-
ethnographic reflection of my journey from prison reformer to prison abolitionist. The chapter
then provides a thorough yet concise explanation of prison abolition followed by a vision of the
world without prisons.
4:50pm-5:00pm Q and A
16). 5:00pm-5:20pm- Finding Joy and Peace: An Autoethnographic Reflection on Sophia’s Garden
Presenters: Tracey Hudson and Mechthild Nagel
Biography: Dr. Tracy Hudson is a distinguished educator and advocate for diversity and equity in education. With over 32 years of experience in public school education, she has made a successful
transition into higher education, currently holding the position of Diversity Faculty Fellow
Assistant Professor in the Physical Education department at SUNY Cortland. In this role, she
serves as the coordinator for the course Foundations of Education in American Culture, guiding
preservice teachers in exploring the historical distribution of opportunities and privileges within
With her wealth of knowledge, research-backed strategies, and innovative teaching methods,
Dr. Hudson has created the groundbreaking Empowering I-CORT Agents of Change project. This
project reflects her unwavering belief in the principles of Intentionality, Care, Optimism,
Respect, and Trust (I-CORT) as catalysts for student growth and success. Dr. Hudson’s visionary
approach aims to instill a sense of agency and empowerment in students, equipping them with
the skills and mindset needed to create positive change in their lives and the lives of the
students they teach.
Through this project, Dr. Hudson has provided students with transformative learning
experiences that go beyond traditional academic boundaries. She understands that true
education involves nurturing the whole student, including their social, emotional, mental,
physical, and civic development. By integrating civic engagement and empowering students to
become change agents, Dr. Hudson has created a platform for individuals to make a tangible
impact on the world around them.
Abstract: This research paper offers an autoethnographic reflection on the program “Sophia’s Garden,” which integrates applied learning, philosophy, and play as a framework to teach elementary students about conflict. As professors and program facilitators, we engage in self-reflection to
gain deeper insights into the transformative potential of Sophia’s Garden. Our reflections
encompass the impact of the program on our teaching practices, personal growth, and
understanding of cultivating joy and peace amidst conflicts. By immersing students in
interactive activities and discussions, the program aims to foster critical thinking skills,
empathy, and a deeper understanding of conflicts from multiple perspectives. Through our
autoethnographic exploration, we examine the impact of Sophia’s Garden on our teaching
practices. We reflect on significant moments, challenges encountered, and insights gained
during our facilitation of the program. Additionally, we explore how the integration of applied
learning, philosophy, and play influences our pedagogical approaches, personal growth, and
The analysis and discussion of our autoethnographic reflections reveal recurring themes and
patterns within our experiences as program facilitators. We identify the transformative
potential of Sophia’s Garden in shaping our teaching practices and enhancing student
engagement in conflict resolution. By drawing upon relevant literature and theoretical
frameworks, we situate our reflections within the broader context of innovative pedagogical
Our autoethnographic reflection on Sophia’s Garden provides valuable insights into the
effectiveness of integrating applied learning, philosophy, and play as a framework for teaching
conflict resolution to elementary students. By sharing our experiences and reflections, we
contribute to the understanding of innovative pedagogical practices and inspire educators to
explore new approaches to cultivate joy and peace amidst conflicts.
5:20-5:30pm Q and A
17). 5:30pm-5:50pm- Curriculum on Racial Justice and Abolition Democracy:
Centering the Experiences of Marginalized Communities
Presenter: Lisette Bamenga Hughes
Biography: Lisette Bamenga Hughes is the Curriculum Director for the Racial Justice and Abolition Democracy project at Columbia University. She used to teach for close to a decade in NYC schools, but after an involvement with the legal system, she found a new sense of purpose in speaking out for people
who are in carceral spaces. For this reason, Lisette joined Hudson Link for Higher Education in
Prison, which provides college programming and re-entry services to people who are
incarcerated in New York State. Lisette cherishes this Nelson Mandela quote: “education is the
most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Abstract: The Square One Project and the Initiative for a Just Society at Columbia University, alongside
community-based organizations and higher educational institutions, have established the Racial
Justice and Abolition Democracy Project (RJAD), a prototype for a national upper-division
action-oriented multi-disciplinary curricular program in the humanities, arts, social sciences,
public policy, and law. The curriculum is being designed, developed, and tested collaboratively
with community and post-secondary education partners. Additionally, a diverse team including
academics, artists, lawyers, advocates, abolitionists, many who are currently or formerly
incarcerated, worked to convey the narratives and needs of marginalized people by asking them
about the problems plaguing their communities and the changes they hope to see. Course
materials have been developed for use by colleges and universities, in carceral higher education
programs, and within community-based settings. The RJAD curriculum takes a
multidisciplinary approach to the history of the United States through the lens of reckoning with
racialized history and its link to democratic structures with an emphasis on the criminal legal
process. The goal of this curriculum is to increase learning about the history of racial injustices
and encourage students and participants to re-imagine a more fair and just society without jails
and prisons. Through this process, we aspire to demonstrate that justice and education inside and
outside of jails and prisons are twin pillars of a strong democracy.
5:50pm- 6:00pm Q and A