er This blog is maintained by our convening group of activists and academics, who together organized “Break Every Yoke: Religion, Power and the Ends of Mass Incarceration“ at the 2013 meeting of the American Academy of Religion to not only advance conversations about the ways that religious ideas and practices can enable/interrogate/oppose mass incarceration, but also to intentionally ground these conversations in partnerships between activists and academics.
Laura McTighe is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Religion at Columbia University and a Visiting Scholar at The Center for Religion and Media at New York University. She comes to her doctoral studies through almost twenty years of grassroots work to end state violence and advance community healing. As a scholar of North American Religions, Laura studies the intersections of race, religion, gender, and activism, with particular attention to the carceral state, domestic land grabs, and disaster capitalism. Through interdisciplinary and community-based methods, her research centers the often-hidden histories, practices, and geographies of struggle in America’s zones of abandonment, and asks how visions for living otherwise become actionable. Her dissertation, “‘This Day, We Use Our Energy for Revolution’: Black Feminist Ethics of Survival, Struggle, and Renewal in the new New Orleans”, is a collaborative ethnography of activist persistence, which she has conceptualized, researched, and written alongside the leaders of Women With A Vision, Inc. (WWAV), a quarter-century old, black women-led health and social justice organization. Her research has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Institute for Religion, Culture, & Public Life, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation’s Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. Laura‘s writings have been published in Beyond Walls and Cages: Bridging Immigrant Justice and Anti-Prison Organizing in the United States (2012), the International Journal for Law and Psychiatry (2011), Islam and AIDS: Between Scorn, Pity and Justice (2009), and a variety of community publications. She is also the Co-Founder of the Front Porch Research Strategy in New Orleans, and serves as a Board Member to Men & Women In Prison Ministries in Chicago and Reconstruction, Inc. in Philadelphia.
Hakim ‘Ali, was born in Washington, North Carolina, and came to Philadelphia with his family at a very young age. He has 5 brothers and 1 sister. He has been a practicing Muslim since 1969, and has held the position of Imam (i.e. spiritual leader), in both Federal and State institutions, where he served 40 years. During his incarceration, Hakim received an “AA” degree from Hagerstown Junior College in Maryland, and his “BS” from Morgan State University, also located in Maryland. Since his release in 2003, Hakim has been involved with many community organizations addressing prison-related issues. Currently, he is the PR/Outreach Coordinator for Reconstruction Inc., and serves as the Administrative Assistant for the projects/programs within Reconstruction’s umbrella. He is also a member of Decarcerate PA, a Pennsylvania coalition working to stop prison construction and to establish whole, healthy communities. Hakim made a determination that it is far better to give back to his community, than to deprive it of the wealth and safety that it deserves, and he views himself as: “the voice of the voiceless.”
Joshua Dubler is an assistant professor of Religion at the University of Rochester. He is author of Down in the Chapel: Religious Life in American Prison (FSG, 2013), and with Andrea Sun-Mee Jones of Bang! Thud: World Spirit from a Texas Schoolbook Depository (Autraumaton, 2016).
Reverend Doris J. Green, B.A., CADC, CCHP, has worked with the incarcerated population for more than 30 years. She is the Founder of Men & Women in Prison Ministries/Universal House of Refuge Center, and the Director of Correctional Health & Community Affairs at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. A respected faith leader in Chicago, Rev. Green successfully launched the Faith Responds to AIDS (FRA) interfaith coalition in 2006, garnering support citywide among land leaders’, organizations and faith communities. In recognition of the international reach of her work, Rev. Green was appointed Ambassador for World Peace by the Universal Peace Foundation and the Interreligious & International Federation for World Peace while on-site in Benin, West Africa in 2007. Currently, she serves as the Prisoners Representative on the Cook County Bureau of Health Services Institutional Review Board; as a Commissioner for the Illinois Torture, Inquiry and Relief Commission; and as member of the NAACP’s National HIV Faith & Social Justice Advisory Board in Washington D.C.
Vincent Lloyd is assistant professor of religion at Syracuse University, and visiting faculty fellow at the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion. He is the author of The Problem with Grace: Reconfiguring Political Theology (Stanford, 2011) and Black Natural Law: Beyond Secularism and Multiculturalism (Oxford, forthcoming).
James Logan was born in Harlem and raised in the South Bronx. He received a BA in Psychology/Pre-Law from Goshen College, an MA in theology and ethics from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, and Ph.D. in religion and society from Princeton Seminary. He is Associate Professor of Religion, and Associate Professor and Director of African and African American Studies at Earlham College. Logan’s areas of teaching and research cover religious, philosophical and social ethics; religion and law; constructive Christian theologies; Black religion; theories of religion; and the relationships among religion, ethics and politics in civil/public life.