Community Justice Center

Award Recipients - 1999

Eddie Ellis, Co-Founder & President

Eddie Ellis has been an advocate for human rights and criminal justice reform since the 1960’s, during which time he was a member of the Black Panther Party.  As a result of these activities, he was imprisoned for twenty-five years for a crime he maintains he did not commit.  During this time, Mr. Ellis developed educational programs for prisoners.  In 1992, after his release, Mr. Ellis and three former prisoners cofounded he Community Justice Center (CJC) in Harlem to do community-base research, education and crime prevention inside and outside of prison.  Key to CJC’s work is the study conducted by prisoners in the 1970s documenting that the majority of person in New York State’s prisons come from seven New York City neighborhoods where mainly African Americans and Latino live.  They enter prison with serious problem – often the result of intuitional failures in the community – and return to the same neighborhoods upon release.  These factors account for the “revolving door” syndrome.  
Mr. Ellis and others developed the “Resurrection-Consciencia Study Group” at Greenhaven prison in the early 1980’s to promote peer youth leadership.  It continues as CJC’s crime-prevention program peer youth leadership.  It continues as CJC’s crime-prevention program inside prisons, with classes designed to build self-esteem, encourage unity and foster cooperation.  CJC also organized the first legislative conference held within a maximum-security prison, and it has been held every year since.  Outside of prison, CJC offers workshops and public forums to stimulate debate, inform public policy and educate youth.  Volunteers fashion innovative approaches that evolve from community-specific, street-level involvement and personal concern acquired through incarceration and survival in prison.

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