Formerly incarcerated leaders, policy-makers, academics, and advocates gathered on April 6, 2017 at Columbia University for a convening, “Leading with Conviction in the Era of Trump.” The event was hosted by the Center for Institutional and Social Change, JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), the Center for Justice at Columbia University, College and Community Fellowship, and the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice. The centerpiece of the event was the release of the report, written by Center Director Susan Sturm and Center Fellow Haran Tae Leading With Conviction: The Transformative Role of Formerly Incarcerated Leaders in Reducing Mass Incarceration. It is the product of many years of research and work, and the Center is proud to announce its release. Read the report here. The report details findings from interviews with 48 “leaders with conviction” over a 14-month period which indicate that such leaders are uniquely positioned to serve as organizational catalysts to mobilize change. They bridge the gap between communities and systems that typically do not interact.
The report culminates in policy recommendations to meaningfully encourage and support the leadership of formerly incarcerated people. Central to this goal is an investment in higher education for people while they are incarcerated and upon their return to their communities.
Performances, panel discussions, and interactive exercises at the event will brought to life the themes from the report. The panels provided a unique opportunity to hear about the power that leaders with conviction have to influence policy decisions from within government and other institutions as well as on the ground through community mobilization. The video stream of the event is here.