March for Justice Executive Summary

The March for Justice is an undertaking by the Alliance of Families for Justice (AFJ) to bring to the attention of the New York State Legislative body, Governor and the general public human rights abuses in NYS prisons and jails. Below are some of the key issues the organization is pursuing in its 2017 Policy Platform:

– Raising the age of criminal responsibility
– Increasing family visitation to prisons
– Meaningful reform of the use of solitary confinement
– Ending human rights abuses in NY’s prisons and jails and closing Attica
– Meaningful reform of the parole system
– Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA) Campaign

The March For Justice will start in New York City at the end of August culminating with a major press conference and rally in Albany on September 13, 2017, the anniversary of the 1971 Attica uprising and massacre*. A core team of marchers will complete the entire route joined daily by others who want to contribute their efforts to this March For Justice as a demonstration of support for the cause.

There are numerous prisons, jails and colleges located along the Hudson River between NYC and Albany which provide excellent sites for teach-ins/ rallies and or press conferences that will be planned for each day of the March and will influence the final route.

The expected participants in this March are students, leaders and members of faith-based organizations, families of incarcerated people, organized labor, social workers, lawyers and paralegals, teachers, service providers, policy makers, formerly incarcerated people, academics, athletes, elected officials, community organizers, health professionals, celebrities, activists and researchers who can make themselves available to join the Marchers for part of the route. Various forms of cultural expression will be incorporated throughout the 18 day March. Local community members are invited to march along part of the route and provide support in the form of hosting a teach-in, providing publicity, helping to organize attendees, supplying food, beverages, lodging, transportation, etc.

Soffiyah Elijah, the Executive Director and founder of AFJ envisioned this volunteer-fueled organization and March For Justice as an effort to strengthen communities and address the devastating impact that the criminal Justice has on families in New York State. This is after a powerful career as an accomplished advocate, attorney, scholar and educator. The following is representative of the positions she held prior to founding AFJ: Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York; Deputy Director and a clinical instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School; a member of the faculty and Director and supervising attorney of the Defender Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law; supervising attorney at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, as well as has practiced criminal and family law in New York City for more than 35 years. She has dedicated her life to human rights and social activism and is a recognized national and international authority on human rights issues. She realizes a movement is only as strong as what we can collectively accomplish together.

AFJ founded in September 2016 is a growing organization that is comprised of family members impacted by the prison system, individuals with criminal records, people that work within the criminal justice system (lawyers and social workers) and individuals that have concern with our current criminal justice system. All members share a dedication to end human rights violations inside prisons and jails, rebuilding communities and supporting families impacted by mass incarceration. The organization enjoys the guidance and governance of committed, knowledgeable and experienced board members.

* On September 13, 1971 a four-day uprising of over 1200 men incarcerated at the Attica State Correctional Facility in western New York ended horrifically after Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered almost 600 state troopers to storm the prison.