On January 29, 2011 I had the pleasure to help facilitate Columbia University School of Social Work’s (CUSSW) first ever skills-based conference on criminal justice titled “Removing the Bars.” The Criminal Justice Caucus at CUSSW, of which I am a member put together and sponsored this conference that despite some resistance and numerous logistical considerations proved to be a great success. The conference was a full day of workshops, a panel of formerly incarcerated individuals and their family discussing their experiences, and a plenary session on the “Cradle to Prison Pipeline” where The Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund-NY presented. Among my responsibilities I was able to recruit my professor, Markus Redding JD MSW to speak on the problem solving courts of New York City and how social workers are, can be, and should be involved the court system.
The conference brought in students from various schools, professionals in the fields of law, social work, and criminal justice as well as community members. The diversity of attendance spoke to the need for these issues to be explored and part of the beauty of the conference was that new or uncovered issues were raised that can be addressed at future events. At the end of the day I let out a giant sigh of relief and satisfaction. It was a lot of work that proudly exemplified collaboration across caucuses at CUSSW and I believe the work was all worth it. I look forward to helping bring the conference back in future years. Check out the Criminal Justice Caucus blog to read more about it.
We also had really cool t-shirts!