GETTING CLOSE: THE CAUSE THAT STARTS AT HOME
“Most people in New York prisons come from just seven communities throughout the state,” Soffiyah Elijah, executive director of the Alliance of Families of Justice, says. “Harlem is one of the hardest hit communities.”
Which is why AFJ is located off Malcolm X Blvd. in the center of Harlem. For Soffiyah, the true work of criminal justice reform begins with the people, families and communities hit the hardest by this era of mass incarceration. New York state prisons have a population comprised of nearly 80 percent Black and Latino people. The average age of the inhabitants in these hostile environments is 37, including teens as young as 16 who are automatically prosecuted as adults. Those re-entering society will return to these aforementioned seven communities in large number.
After a powerful legal career as a criminal defense attorney and advocate for civil rights, Soffiyah became the first black woman to serve as Executive Director of the century-and-a-half old Correctional Association of New York. After five years defending human rights of those inside, Soffiyah and her dedicated community of supporters launched AFJ, her most ambitious move yet to forever alter the landscape of injustice in American courts and prisons. "Now is the most important time to get involved," she says. "Because we are right at the beginning of this great work. You can make a difference."
My sister Soffiyah Elijah has worked throughout her career for justice, and she's stood steadfast with those men and women who have found their lives jeopardized by the criminal justice system.
— Danny Glover, AFJ board member, actor, civil rights activist and champion for justice
The AFJ Team
Governing Board Members
Kathy Boudin, Ph.D.
Stephanie Fullam, co-Chairperson
Danny Glover, co-Chairperson
Samuel K. Roberts, Ph.D.
Advisory Board Members
Dr. Bill Akpinar
Baz Dreisinger, Ph.D.
Eugene Gelernter, Esq.
Gail Gray, Esq.
Dr. Rita Louard
Adeel Mangi, Esq.
Leonard Noisette, Esq.
Nkechi Tafia, Esq.
Heather Ann Thompson, Ph.D.
James Turner, Ph.D.
Gregg Walker, Esq.
Dr. Barbara Zeller
Brienna Carbonneau, Intern
Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director
“The system is so very broken...”
We came to the issue of criminal justice reform through the simple revelation that the system is so very broken. We didn't realize how broken it was until we met Soffiyah.
— Hyatt Bass, author
“Hope for the future...”
We count Soffiyah Elijah as one of our most powerful and effective allies... The promise of The Alliance of Families for Justice to create change in New York and beyond gives us hope in the future.
— Charles Ogletree & David Harris,
“She challenges power...”
Whatever Soffiyah works on, grows develops and moves forward... she changes the game. She always changes the game because she challenges power in a way that not many people can do.
— Susan Rosenburg, writer, teacher, former political prisoner
“I was blown away..."
I was just at the event for (AFJ) and I was blown away. I work as a reporter on human rights abuses in other countries... but it is incredibly important to be aware about these abuses taking place in our country and New York.
— Robert Mackey, journalist
Ending the abuses of human rights behind bars and halting the era of mass criminalization cannot be accomplished by only organization. The Alliance of Families for Justice is proud to work cooperatively in a growing coalition of committed organizations in New York City, upstate New York and beyond.