I am Jenny Baker, a sophomore in Leverett studying sociology, and the Secretary of the Harvard College Project for Justice. The Harvard College Project for Justice is a criminal justice reform group that works to educate the Harvard community and beyond about issues within our criminal justice system. Our mission is to bring awareness of these issues to campus and to other communities while providing a platform for learning and growth for students who are interested in law, public policy, and activism. I was recently elected Secretary at the end of the fall semester, and have served as the chair of the Race and Incarceration Committee for the past year. I have been a member of the Harvard College Project for Justice since fall of my freshman year, and helped to launch our Beyond the Bars Initiative. As the chair of the Race and Incarceration Committee I developed this project by planning trips to re-entry/rehabilitation facilities for students to interview formally incarcerated individuals. We also brought formally incarcerated people to campus and conducted phone and email interviews with currently incarcerated individuals as well. With this information we created a social media campaign similar to Humans of New York where we post pictures of formally and currently incarcerated individuals with captions from the interviews. We also write blog posts which tie personal stories to broader problems within the criminal justice system. The goal of this project has been to raise awareness of the difficulties of re-entry into society post-incarceration and to humanize those who have been incarcerated.
Pictured above is a photo from an event we organized in which a member of the ACLU came to speak about the organization and his work with criminal justice reform
HCPJ also brings speakers to campus and holds phone banks during important elections. This semester we are partnering with women’s rights groups on campus to hopefully visit a women’s jail/prison and conduct workshops on female reproductive health. We are also bringing Loretta Lynch, former attorney general under the Obama Administration, to campus to have a conversation with students. Overall, my fellow members and I are working to expand Beyond the Bars and to develop other ways to engage the Harvard community and beyond in discussions on criminal justice reform.