Event: Inhuman Incarceration

Join Law Review for a panel representing grassroots organizers, legal workers, prison psychologists, and policy makers for an informed discussion on the conditions and effects of the American prison system and what we, as a community, can do about it.


Professor Ann Cammett received her J.D. from CUNY School of Law where she currently teaches the third-year Family Law Concentration. Prior to joining CUNY, Professor Cammett was awarded Law Professor of the Year at the William S. Boyd School of Law in 2011. From 2004 to 2006 she served as the Reentry Policy Analyst for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, working to develop programs and advocacy materials to improve prisoner reentry outcomes. In 2000 she was a recipient of the Skadden Fellowship at the New York Legal Aid Society, where she represented formerly incarcerated women facing civil sanctions arising from criminal convictions. Professor Cammett’s scholarship explores intersectional legal issues of race, gender, poverty, mass criminalization and the family. She is a recognized expert on the policy implications of incarcerated parents with child support arrears and other collateral consequences of criminal convictions. Her work in this area has been cited in two amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Turner v. Rogers, and excerpted for family law casebooks and other treatises.


Five Omar Mualimm-Ak is a former inmate turned activist who advocates for prison reform. He spent more than 5 of his 2. 12 year prison sentence in solitary and other forms of isolated confinement. He works tirelessly to raise awareness and fights to reform the use of solitary confinement across the state. He is the founder and Executive Director of The Incarcerated Nation Campaign (INC), which is a grassroots movement made up of formerly incarcerated persons, family members of those currently incarcerated, activists, students, and advocacy organizations, all working together to educate the community on issues of mass incarceration, improve conditions for the incarcerated and their families, and create a support base of re-entry for those returning back to our communities. Mr. Mualimm-Ak also works as an activist and organizer for the American Friends Service Committee and Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, Solitary Watch, and the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement. Remarks he made at Cardozo Law can be seen here.

Soffiyah Elijah is the Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York, the only organization of its kind in the country that advocates for criminal justice reform and systemic change in prisons. An accomplished advocate, attorney, scholar and educator, Soffiyah is the first woman and the first person of color to lead the nearly 170-year old organization in its mission to create a fairer, more effective and humane criminal justice system. Prior to joining the staff of the Correctional Association in March 2011, Soffiyah served as Deputy Director and a clinical instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School. Before moving to Harvard, she was a member of the faculty and Director and supervising attorney of the Defender Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law. She was a supervising attorney at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, where she defended indigent members of the Harlem community, and has also worked as a staff attorney for the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society. She has authored several articles and publications on U.S. criminal and juvenile justice policy and prison conditions and is a frequent presenter at national and international forums. Soffiyah earned her Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University and J.D. from Wayne State University Law School. Watch her MSNBC appearance here.

Jennifer J Parish is the director of Criminal Justice Advocacy at the Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project where she advocates for discharge planning for people with psychiatric disabilities released from jails and prisons, elimination of the practice of placing people with mental illness in solitary confinement in correctional facilities and expansion of alternatives to incarceration for people with psychiatric disabilities involved in the criminal justice system. Ms. Parish’s work includes systemic litigation, legislative advocacy, and community education. She co-counsels Brad H. v. City of New York, a landmark case that requires New York City to provide discharge planning to people receiving mental health treatment in the city jails. She also organizes Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement and is a founding member of the New York City Jails Action Coalition. Prior to joining the Urban Justice Center in 2004, Ms. Parish worked as a public defender with The Legal Aid Society of New York and as a visiting associate clinical professor at the Criminal Law Clinic at Cardozo Law School. Ms. Parish earned her Bachelor of Arts from Austin College and her J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Dr. Oliver Roeder is the Economics Fellow in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. His current research explores the relationships between incarceration, policing, and crime. Oliver recently completed his Ph.D. in economics at The University of Texas at Austin, where his fields of study were game theory and applied microeconomic theory. He was a Richard Worley Endowed Fellow in Economics, and won the department’s Best Second Year Paper Award for his work on political campaign strategy. His dissertation explored the strategic behavior of judges, politicians, and voters. While a graduate student, Dr. Roeder taught microeconomics at St. Edward’s University. He also holds an M.S. in economics from UT Austin and an A.B. in economics from The University of Chicago.

Osvaldo Caban was born into a Puerto Rican working class family in New York City. Throughout his youth, Osvaldo predominantly lived in public housing projects in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. He graduated from Long Island City High School, City College of New York and CUNY Law School. After graduating college, he worked as a Correction Officer in Riker’s Island and then as a Commercial Real Property Manager for the New York City Housing Preservation Department. After graduating law school in 1987, Osvaldo worked for the Legal Aid Society defending indigent tenants that were being harassed and evicted by landlords; and he went on to work for the New York City Commission on Human Rights where he prosecuted housing and employment discrimination cases. He was later hired as a staff attorney by the law firm of O’Dwyer and Bernstien where he learned how to prosecute construction work site personal injury cases on behalf of seriously injured workers. For the last twenty-two years, Osvaldo has been a solo general practitioner with a specialty in representing indigent criminal defendants in petition for Writs of Habeas Corpus and in parole hearings. Osvaldo’s practice also has an emphasis on representing people in major accident cases and in all aspects of contractual agreements. Osvaldo has been married for the last twenty-eight years to Donna Acevedo, a Nurse Practitioner at Jacobi Hospital. They have three beautiful daughters, Alexa, Bianca, and Celina Caban.

Chino Hardin is the project coordinator for the ARCHES mentoring program and also serves as a field trainer/organizer with the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions, an independent research, training and advocacy Human Justice think tank. He has worked in the field of youth leadership development and gang prevention/intervention for ten years. Chino is committed to developing and elevating leadership and civic engagement with youth and communities hardest hit by crime, violence and incarceration. His expertise stems from on-the-ground apprenticeship with seasoned youth development trainers and practitioners from across the country as well as from his own personal experience in street nation building and within the juvenile/criminal justice system. Over the last ten years, Chino’s charismatic style and studied pedagogical integration have won him recognition in the field of youth leadership development training, specifically applied to youth who have been labeled “dangerous”, “gang-involved” and “hopeless.” He has appeared in numerous renowned publications and media outlets, such as the Village Voice, City Limits, The Ave Magazine, BET, and the Caribbean Life. Watch his appearance as a panelist on Behind the Bars here.

Dr. Kate Porterfield is a staff psychologist at Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture where she provides individual and family therapy to children, adolescents and adults and supervises trainees working with survivors of torture. She has worked as a clinical evaluator on several cases of young people held in detention at Guantanamo Bay and frequently consults with attorneys handling cases involving torture and maltreatment. She has also presented extensively in New York and nationally on topics such as the effects of war and refugee trauma on children, clinical work with traumatized refugee families, and the psychological effects of torture. Dr. Porterfield is the Chair of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Psychosocial Effects of War on Children Residing in the United States. She received her Ph.D . in Clinical Psychology from the University of Michigan, where she specialized in child and family treatment. She received the Power Fellowship at the University of Michigan to focus her clinical and research training on the needs of children who have suffered loss, either through death, divorce, or other trauma.

*All community members are welcome to attend this event – NON-CUNY LAW STUDENTS AND FACULTY, please RSVP with your name to shelby.sullivan-bennis@live.law.cuny.edu

**Snacks, Dinner, and Drinks will be served.

Add your voice . . .