Dates/Times: April 12 (1-6pm) and April 13 (9am-5pm)
Location: In Person – Union Theological Seminary
Instructor: Judy Clark
Registration Deadline: March 29, 2024
This course will look at advocacy efforts in New York State to address a prison system that warehouses 30,000 people, in which a person dies every three days. These advocacy efforts include bail, parole and sentencing reform, the fight to close Rikers Island, the call for treatment not jails and efforts to prioritize stabilizing families. We will analyze how the opposition to these reform efforts is drawing on the public’s fear of rising crime rates and examine alternative approaches to fostering public safety.
Judith Clark spent 38 years in prison for her part in the 1981 Brinks armored car robbery, in which three people were killed. While reckoning with the damage she caused, she worked with others inside to create community based programs to address the problems they faced and their desires to grow. She was one of the founders of an AIDS education and support program, and part of the committee of women who built a college program after public funding was eliminated. She helped develop programs for mothers to sustain bonds with their children and mentored new mothers living in the prison nursery. She has written about that work, the experiences of mothers inside, the spiritual work of remorse and the efforts of women inside to build community. Her published poetry, memoir and scholarly writing can be found on line. Released in 2019, she currently works with Hour Children, which provides housing and support for women emerging from prison, and is active in advocacy work for those she left behind the walls.