Laura Whitehorn served 14+ years in federal prison for the “Resistance Conspiracy” case. Released in 1999, she is an organizer for Release Aging People in Prison/RAPP (RAPPCampaign.com) and the NY Taskforce for Political Prisoners, both committed to ending prison injustice and freeing incarcerated people including political prisoners. She edited “The War Before” by the late Safiya Bukhari, who was a member of the Black Panther Party, a political prisoner, and co-founder of the Jericho Movement (http://www.feministpress.org/books-n-z/the-war-before). Whitehorn helped organize the 2014 exhibit “Self-Determination Inside/Out” at Interference Archive in Brooklyn, showing how the struggles of incarcerated people have shaped social movements outside from the Attica rebellion to today (http://interferencearchive.org/self-determination-insideout/). She is a member of both the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People and Families Movement and the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. Along with her partner of nearly 30 years, writer/activist Susie Day, she was part of a prison, labor, and academic delegation to Palestine in March 2016, and works on the No Separate Justice Campaign to protest the U.S. targeting of Muslims.
Donna Hylton has been deeply involved in movements for social justice around the world. She draws upon her experience imprisoned in a women’s correctional facility for 27 years, with some of that time spent in solitary confinement. Now free on parole, she emphasizes the importance of building communities through economic, racial, and gender justice.
Donna is a founding member of From Life to Life, a nation-al initiative dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. She is especially concerned with the gen-eral tendency to devote more resources and attention to dis-mantling a prison system that preys upon the weak and victimized, she urges communities to think seriously about school to prison pipelines and the pathways that allow women, over 80% which have been abused, that result in rising incarceration rates among women of color. Donna is a key member of the Correctional Association’s “Violence Against Women Committee on the Inside. ”She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in Social Psychology and a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in English Literature from Mercy College. Donna is also an advisory committee member for the New York Women’s Bar Association’s Parole Prep Project, a 2015 JustleadershipUSA Fellow, an advisory member for NoVo’s Women’s Building project, and a National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls Founding Member.
Andre Ward, is a workforce development professional, presently employed as the Director of Workforce Development for the Osborne Association. He is also the Co-Host and Associate Producer for On the Count: The Criminal and Prison Justice Report that airs on 99.5fm WBAI. Andre is a long time advocate and activist for at risk and vulnerable populations having criminal justice, chemical dependency and/or mental health issues. Additionally, he serves as an Adjunct Professor at Medgar Evers College, where he teaches Introduction to Social Work. Andre holds an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, from Medgar Evers College (CUNY). He was accepted to the advanced standing master’s degree of so-cial work program at Lehman College (CUNY) and graduated in May 2014. In addition, Andre is a Senior Fellow with the Center for on Urban Solutions, an independent public policy think tank and advocacy training center, formerly at Medgar Evers College in the City University of New York (CUNY). He is also a Senior Fellow of the National Trust for the Development of African Men. In addition to being a published poet and author of a book, he is certified as an anger management specialist and mental health first aide instructor. He is a motivational speaker and Life Skills coach. Andre Ward resides with his wife in the Bronx. He Served 16 years in prison and was released in January 2009.
Darryl Johnson was born in Harlem, New York where he graduated from the Alfred E. Smith, high school and then went on to Navy Service. After Darryl, left Navy service, he was caught up in street life and spent several years incarcerated in the New York State Prison System. Through his experiences with the criminal justice sys-tem Darryl became a strong advocate for those who were incarcerated. While on Riker’s Island Darryl, represented inmates within the facility and also became a deacon and monstered to those in-mates while incarcerated. Upon his release he came in contact with EXODUS transitional community who provided him with tremendous support. With their support Darryl was able to begin a career as a substance abuse counselor helping those with addiction. He then started a substance abuse program of his own at Green Chimneys group home. Darryl also started the child in crisis program. From there Darryl transitioned to STRIVE where he graduated and became the coordinator for the “Fathers joining Fathers” program, a collaboration of STRIVE, VFI and CEO. There he provided re-entry support for individuals returning from incarceration with a focus on helping them deal with issues of child support and other matters of the Family Court system. Darryl then became the coordinator of an EXO-DUS program where he secured mentors for children with incarcerated parents.
For the last ten years, Darryl has worked with the Center for Law and Justice where he continues to provide information and referral services to those in need. Darryl is a strong advocate against mass-incarceration and for those who are currently and formerly incarcerated. Darryl sits on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union, Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration and the New Jim Crow. Darryl is also involved with activities such as Albany’s Law Enforcement Diversion Program which aims to divert low-level offender with sub-stance abuse or mental health issues from the courts into treatment and case management services.
Michael Pass earned two Master’s degrees and two undergraduate degrees during his time in prison. Following his release from prison, Mr. Pass applied to the City University of New York’s John Jay College’s doctoral program in Criminal Justice. He was accepted into the program based on the merit of his application. He shall walk with his graduating class in Spring 2017, having now completed all of the requirements related to the degree. His areas of expertise include prison re-entry, Black masculinity, and research related to forensic populations in urban settings. He has a strong background in quantitative and qualitative research methods.
Mr. Pass is a full time faculty member at the historically Black college University of Central Florida’s Criminal Justice Department. He works closely with the students, community members, and various police agencies on justice is-sues. As an educator, Mr. Pass lectures with an effort to develop change agents, while using a racialized lens to foster an understanding of criminal jus-tice and juvenile justice systems. In his work, Mr. Pass seeks to highlight how these systems particularly affect people of color. He has presented at number of conferences, co-host roundtables discussions that include community members and the Police Departments in various parts of Florida, as they seek to identify problems and solutions that exist between communities of color and law enforcement agents.
Kandra Clark is a Grant Coordinator/Writer at The Fortune Society, a $28 million non-profit organization based in New York City, with a mission to support successful reentry from jail and prison and promote alternatives to incarceration, thus strengthening the fabric of our communities. Kandra has worked at Fortune for almost 5 years; she began her journey in their Employment Services unit, and later worked as a Court Writer in the Court Advocacy unit. In her current position, she writes government and foundation grants to support Fortune’s wide-array of services (discharge planning, education, workforce development, HIV/AIDS services, supportive housing, family services, substance abuse treatment and mental health services, food and nutrition offerings, and alternatives to incarceration). Most recently, she was successful in securing a $430,000 grant from the NYS Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance (OTDA) to conduct SNAP outreach. Since her release from Beacon Correctional Facility (Beacon, New York) on September 26, 2011, Kandra has earned an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from LaGuardia Community College, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities and Justice (summa cum laude) from John Jay College of Criminal Justice; her paper entitled “Qing Law versus Qing Justice: Problematic Aspects of Filial Piety” was published in John Jay’s Finest in 2015. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration (majoring in Urban Affairs) at John Jay College and also plans to attend Law School in the future, with an ultimate goal of opening her own non-profit organization dedicated to providing youth with alternative-to-incarceration programming. Since 2011, Kandra has been a member of College and Community Fellowship (CCF), a NYC-based non-profit organization with a mission to eliminate individual and structural barriers to higher education, economic security, long term stability, and civic participation for women who have criminal convictions (including those currently and formerly incarcerated) and their families. Kandra has been a mentor with CCF since January, 2016, where she provides guidance to formerly incarcerated women in their pursuit of higher education. Kandra is also a member of College Initiative, a non-profit organization based in NYC, with a mission to create pathways from criminal justice involvement to college and beyond and to establish and support communities invested in their own success, and Just Leadership USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to cut-ting the United States correctional population in half by 2030, while reducing crime.
Johnny Perez is the Safe Reentry advocate at the Urban Justice Center Mental Health Project (MHP), a nonprofit law firm providing pro bono legal services to underserved population in NYC. Specifically, he works directly with people with mental illness and histories of incarceration, to connect them to the services in the community that will assist them to attain better measures of recovery and gain the stability necessary to avoid further contact with the criminal justice system.
Drawing on the wisdom of thirteen years of direct involvement with the criminal justice system, Johnny also works to change unjust policies and practices in the criminal justice system through his participation as a newly appointed member of the NY Advisory Committee to The US Civil Rights Commission. Johnny is also a member of the NYC Bar Association’s Correction and Reentry Committee and a member of the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC).
Johnny is a sought after speaker having been invited to speak by Cornell Law School, Fordham University, Amnesty International, The United Nations, and various state, regional, and national conferences on topics like Reentry, Prison Education, and Solitary Confinement. Johnny’s writing has been published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Ebony Magazine, Newsweek magazine, and the Wall Street Journal.
A recent collaboration with The Guardian for 6’x 9’, an immersive solitary confinement virtual reality experience yielded into its acceptance into this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Johnny has made appearances on Al Jazeera America, Capital Tonight, and his video for Now This on the misconceptions of prison life has over 1.5 million views. He is now completing his first nonfiction book: Prison: The Upside Down Kingdom.
Dinah Ortiz is a Parent Advocate at The Bronx Defenders where she represents parents impacted by the Child Welfare System. During the past seven years, Dinah has been working with and advocating for vulnerable women, formerly incarcerated and substance using mothers and fathers. As an advocate for women’s rights, Dinah has served as a member of several not-for-profit organizations focusing on the education and well-being of current and formerly incarcerated women, pregnant women and mothers battling addiction. Dinah has appeared on dozens of panels nationwide to discuss pregnant women and harm reduction. Educating Doctors, lawyers, social workers and specifically those in the child welfare arena with the tools to better service their communities at large. Dedicated to her clients and com-munity Dinah prides herself in her activism and advocacy and gives voice to the unheard.