Beyond the Bars 2018 – Request for Proposals
The Center for Justice at Columbia University

Beyond the Bars – March 1-4, 2018

The Beyond the Bars Conference, now going into its 8th year, is an annual event that brings together a trans-disciplinary group to advance the work of ending mass incarceration and mass criminalization and building a just and safe society. Each year scholars, students, activists, advocates, policy makers, government officials and those who have been most directly impacted by issues of incarceration and criminalization come together for three days to deepen our collective analysis, strengthen our network of those working for change and make visible the many ways those from the academy and the community can engage in action.

This year’s conference will focus on elevating the growing movement to close jails and prisons to:

  1. Convene and support a national network of people and organizations
    working to close jails and prisons across the country
  2. Help articulate a vision and analysis for closing jails and prisons and
    envisioning what comes next
  3. Address and examine some of the difficult issues and questions that arise
    when people are calling for closing jails and prisons
  4. Further catalyze university involvement in ending mass incarceration

Request for Proposals

Sunday, March 4, 2018, the third day of the Beyond the Bars conference, will feature 45 to 90-minute organizing workshops. These sessions are designed to facilitate skill-sharing, learning, and active engagement in justice work. The workshops are a chance to to further understand the many political struggles connected to mass criminalization, to teach new tools for advocacy and organizing, and to connect participants to opportunities for continued engagement beyond the conference. What skills do you wish more people had?  What do people need to know in order to contribute more effectively to your work? What are the concrete steps people can take today to support the work that you’re doing?  What skills do you wish more people had?  We are particularly committed to highlighting the voices and organizing done by: people of color, women, queer and trans people, young people, and people directly impacted by incarceration and the criminal legal system.

We are interested in proposals that touch on various topics related to closing jails and prisons, including:

  • Building grassroots campaigns to close jails and prison or that tackle related issues

  • Building political power to end mass incarceration and criminalization

  • Organizing strategies and goals that decrease the number of people detained and incarcerated

  • Alternatives to detention and incarceration that don’t replace jails and prisons with other forms of criminalization

  • Restorative, transformative and healing justice practices

  • Political education around the many issues related to closing jails and prisons including bail, policing, speedy trial, parole reform.

  • Centering the lived experiences and leadership of people directly impacted by the criminal legal system

  • Developing and sustaining relationships and networks across organizations, campaigns, and geography

  • Alternative community uses for closed jails and prisons

We are looking forward to learning various skills, including:

  • Self care: how do you do this work while dealing with trauma?

  • Restorative approaches to reducing violence

  • Anti-oppressive organizational practices

  • Creating political campaigns

  • Political power-mapping as it relates to criminal justice policy

  • Community organizing and base building strategies (including direct actions and engagement with diverse communities)

  • Communicating your message (including the use of social media and presenting stories)

  • Arts-based activism

  • Supporting people experiencing state violence (including currently incarcerated people)

  • Fundraising and budgeting

  • Legal advocacy

  • Mediation

  • Other Related topic or skill:

We invite proposals for workshops that address one or more of these foundational topics and skills. In your proposal, please emphasize tangible takeaways for participants and the ways you will facilitate this through active participation and/or gaining a deeper understanding of an issue.

Accepted proposals will be interactive and bridge the gap from analysis to action. We are especially excited about workshops that provide the opportunities and/or resources for continued involvement after the conference weekend—either through one’s individual actions or through involvement with a group.

All workshops will be in either 45-minute or 75-minute blocks and take place on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at Columbia University School of Social Work.

Please include in your proposal: 1) the materials you will need for your workshop (e.g. projector, paper, markers, etc.), and 2) whether you would like to do a 45-minute or 75-minute workshop.

To submit a proposal, please fill out this form by Friday, January 26 at 11:59PM EST.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments at:

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