What You Can Do

Raise Awareness about Issues of Incarceration

Start a Dialogue with the People Around you

Raising awareness around issues of incarceration can start with something so simple as using different terms to refer to incarcerated individuals. For instance, instead of referring to someone with the stigmatizing phrases of "ex-felon" and "ex-convict," use the more humanistic term "formally incarcerated." Educate yourself about the criminal code and criminal justice legislation by simply picking up the paper or turning on the evening news, and be on the lookout for stories of incarceration and social justice. Talk to your friends and families about what you see and hear in the news; conversation means cognizance, and any dialogue will help to strengthen the social justice movement towards prison reform and abolition. Don't just accept that there are mass rates of incarceration. Engage. Ask questions. Consider your role as a citizen and as a future social worker.


Contact your legislators and urge them to pass laws towards criminal justice reform pertaining to issues such as solitary confinement, the death penalty, and probation and parole. Support formerly incarcerated persons faced with the hardships of reentry by advocating for movements like "ban the box."

Volunteer. Here are just a few NYC organizations and student-run clubs that you can get involved with:

-The Fortune Society

-Wagner Students for Criminal Justice Reform (right here at NYU!)

-NYC Jails Action Coalition

-Think Outside the Cell Foundation

-Women's Prison Association

-The Osborne Association

-Innocence Project