Event - After Rikers: Mic Check on Criminal Justice Reform

After Rikers: Mic Check on Criminal Justice Reform

03.08.20, 2:00 pm

On April 1, 2019, New York State passed sweeping criminal justice reform legislation, including bail and discovery reform, which are in effect as of Jan 1st, 2020. The new bail law requires judges to free most suspects arrested for non-violent crimes, which in turn is vastly decreasing the number of people held in Rikers Island Jail Complex and paving the road for the notoriously inhumane Correction Facility to close.


Taking place in conjunction with the Community Partnership exhibition My Word(s) – These are the tools I trust, this panel discussion and open mic is a moment to learn about the implications of these policy changes. In recognition of International Women’s Day, After Rikers: Mic Check on Criminal Justice Reform will focus specifically on the voices of womenwomen that have been personally affected by the carceral system, advocates for justice reform, teaching artists, and those who lend their creative voices to criminal justice reform. This program will provide a space to hear from those directly impacted by the criminal justice system, learn about  current reforms, and explore the role social, cultural, and governmental institutions can play.


2pm: Welcome and Open Mic


2:30pm: Poetry readings by Tahara Lilly, Melody B., and Yasmine Lancaster


3 – 4pm: Panel Conversation with Amy Ellenbogen (Director of Arts Strategies, Center for Court Innovation),  Lily J. Shapiro (Senior Policy Advisor to the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation), and Rev. Sharon White-Harrigan (Executive Director, Women’s Community Justice Association), followed by Q&A and open discussion




Tahara Lilly is the author of the award winning book of poems, My Mother Bleeds History (Free Verse Press). She has performed her work at El Museo Del Barrio, Poets House, and at The Green Space/WNYC. Tahara appeared in the NBC series of interviews on Justice Reform by Ronan Farrow. She is the mother of two brilliant daughters and her newest work is a children’s book, I Don’t Want to be Fancy, that she is writing for her girls.


Melody B. is a singer & songwriter from the Bronx, New York. A Free Verse artist, she has performed at Carnegie Hall, CUNY Graduate Center, John Jay College Art Gallery, and St. Francis University. Melody’s vocal range spans many cultures, but one of her great passions is Bollywood Music.


Yasmine Lancaster is a poet published with Literary Review, Free Verse Magazine,The Bronx Times Newspaper. She is also an essayist published with Nia Magazine and M-Lifestyles. In addition to achieving success as a writer she is also an award winning filmmaker. Her short film – The Crown Has Returned – Omowale The Vegan Boxer- won an award with Rooted Theater Fall Symposium 2018. She was a featured poetry performer with Mocada Museum in Brooklyn Museum in October 2018. In the Summer of 2018 she was an invited guest of the Open Program of the Work center with Jerzy Grotowsky & Thomas Richard studying theater in Italy. She performed in Florence, Italy. A proud member of the Women Writers in Bloom Salon, her latest project is her book and one woman show, Substitute Teacher Chronicles – which highlights her experience teaching in New York City Charter Schools. She has served as a teaching artist for the Free Verse Working Artist Program at the South Bronx NeON and at the Visions Senior Center.


Amy Ellenbogen is a serial founder of programs focused on violence prevention through collective and community-led problem solving and civic engagement. Trained as a social worker and community organizer, Amy served as the director of Neighbors in Action (formerly known as the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center) for 17 years. In that role, she founded the first Cure Violence replication site in New York State, Save Our Streets, (S.O.S), an evidence-based local neighborhood gun violence reduction program. As of 2019, Amy is the Director of Arts Strategies at the Center for Court Innovation where she is focusing on the creation of opportunities to deploy the arts to influence policy and find solutions to seemingly intractable societal problems, provide economic opportunities, support well-being, promote empathy and understanding within the criminal legal system and in neighborhoods. She is currently designing arts-based alternatives to incarceration and court diversion programs.


Lily J. Shapiro is Senior Policy Advisor to the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation (DOP). Her responsibilities include analyzing and developing opportunities for innovation aligned with best practices and reform efforts; representing the agency on multiple interagency taskforces and in other partnerships with justice-system stakeholders; maintaining relationships with current and potential public and private funders for wide range of new and existing programs and initiatives; and overseeing the agency’s work as one the partners in the Credible Messenger Justice Center. Prior to joining DOP, she taught in the Lawyering Program at NYU School of Law and held the position of Research Fellow in the NYU School of Law Center for Research in Crime and Justice. Lily served as a public defender at the Bronx Defenders and as an E. Barrett Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center, where she also supervised students in the Juvenile Justice Clinic.  Lily started working in the criminal justice field over 20 years ago as an investigator on the appeals of indigent people on death row in California. She is graduate of NYU School of Law, where she was a Soros Justice Fellow in the Root-Tilden-Kern Public Service Scholarship Program, and Harvard College.


Sharon White-Harrigan is the Executive Director of WCJA-BEYONDrosies2020, a campaign aimed at closing the women’s jail on Rikers Island, NYC, and ensuring that incarcerated women receive the comprehensive, trauma-informed and empowering services that they deserve to heal and have a successful reentry. Prior to leading BEYONDrosies2020, Sharon was the Program Director of a temporary residence for formerly incarcerated women at the Women’s Prison Association. She has worked in a range of direct service fields including reentry, domestic violence, homelessness, mental health and substance abuse. She has also worked on policy advocacy efforts and was a leader in the successful campaign to pass NY’s DV Survivors Justice Act in 2015. Sharon is a motivational speaker who travels the country to speak with a wide range of audiences and press, including the New York Times, Daily News, Amsterdam News, and various radio. In her presentations, Sharon draws upon her expertise as a licensed social worker, survivor of violence, and 11 years of incarceration. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Lehman College, and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Criminal Justice from City University of New York where she was a Thomas W. Smith Fellow. Sharon is the recipient of many awards including: the 2017 Frank & Lisina Hoch Award for social justice advocacy and activism.