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weekly update – january 14, 2021

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In this issue…

Our first NY Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Monthly Call of 2021

CT Building Leadership and Organizing Capacity (BLOC) Roundtable Meeting

Connecticut BLOC Roundtable Meeting

Our Monthly BLOC meeting brings organizers together to share, learn, and grow. 

In Connecticut, we convened our first BLOC Roundtable of the year. BLOC stands for Building Leadership and Organizing Capacity – it’s  our organizing training program. At BLOC Organizer Roundtables, new and experienced organizers come together in a facilitated space for peer-to-peer development, coaching, and training, and for collective discussions about the mechanics and practice of community organizing. The Roundtables are a place for organizers to gather, learn, and grow together. Our CT BLOC Organizer Roundtable has been meeting monthly since 2017, led by veteran Black organizers. Dozens of organizers in Connecticut have participated in the monthly CT roundtable, mostly women of color.  Roundtables are not issue specific – they include organizers working on a range of issue areas, from housing and immigration policy to education reform and LGBTQI rights, to criminal justice reform and universal healthcare. 

To learn more about the BLOC Organizer Roundtables, please contact Lead Organizer Kenyatta Thompson at

Kicking off 2021: Our Monthly NY Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Call

This afternoon, we hosted our first NY Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Monthly Call of the year! Over 100 participants joined the meeting to kick off 2021 with great energy and exciting work to end mass incarceration in New York.

Folks were engaged on our January 2021 Monthly Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Call 

We had a powerful lineup of speakers:

  • Artie Malkin, Malkin & Ross provided updates about what to expect for 2021 legislative session, including updates about the Governor’s state of the state address, the budget shortfall and implications for criminal justice reform, and how the session will operate amidst COVID19.
  • Bridget Shanahan, Policy and Advocacy Analyst at College & Community Fellowship, discussed the recent restoration of college tuition assistance programs for people in prison, and the implications for people in prisons in NY
  • Donna Hylton, President and Founder of A Little Piece of Light, shared updates from the #LessIsMoreNY parole reform campaign.
  • Carmela Huang, Attorney at the Legal Aid Society,  spoke about the 13th Forward Coalition and their new legislative strategy for the 2021 legislative session.
  • Melissa Moore, State Director at the Drug Policy Alliance, addressed the implications of Gov. Cuomo’s inclusion of cannabis legalization in his 2021 plans, and work to ensure legalization in NY accounts for restorative justice.
  • Kevin Renny Smith, NY Executive Director of Families and Friends of Wrongful Conviction, Inc, spoke about the origins and work of his organization.

Join us for our next NY Statewide Criminal Justice Reform Call on Thursday, February 11, 2021 at noon! Register for the call, hosted virtually on Zoom, here.

Keep practicing social distancing, wear your mask, wash your hands, and check in on your neighbors. If you want to get involved, learn more about our work, or just connect, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Katal works to strengthen the people, policies, institutions, and movements that advance health, equity, and justice for everyone. Join us: web, Twitter, Facebook! Email: Phone: 646.875.8822.

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