My Alma Mater

I’m so proud:

In the hallowed halls of Columbia University, a nest of ex-cons — who have served time for murder, attempted murder, robbery and assault — hold court on their unique brand of social justice for admiring students enrolled in the school’s social work program, a investigation has found.

The ex-cons work for or with the Criminal Justice Initiative (CJI), co-founded in 2009 by former Weather Underground operative and Columbia adjunct professor Kathy Boudin, who pleaded guilty to felony murder for her role in an infamous 1981 armed robbery that left two police officers and a security guard dead. And while that case was well-publicized, the group is hardly upfront about the “practical experience” of Boudin and others associated with the CJI.

A description on the program’s website says it is “situated inside” Columbia, and a part of the school’s “Social Intervention Group,” a research center within the Columbia University School of Social Work. It lists among its goals helping to forge a solution for “a central social crisis of our time, mass incarceration.” The program holds events and conducts research as part of “an interdisciplinary project built around a model of community collaboration” that “seeks to increase the number of skilled practitioners, policy-makers and researchers who can advance the fields of re-entry and incarceration across all disciplines.”

Outside of a vague reference to Boudin and Cheryl Wilkins being “part of a community of people who have returned from prison,” there is no information about their criminal pasts. Boudin’s school directory bio, for example, makes no mention of her time in prison. Several other CJI faculty, program members and associates have similarly disturbing backgrounds.

Wilkins, co-director of the CJI, is listed in the Columbia School of Social Work adjunct faculty directory as a “research scientist” and “Associate Director for the Criminal Justice Initiative. She was convicted for her role in a 1996 gunpoint hijacking of a Federal Express truck in Harlem, in which she served as the getaway driver. Wilkins served a 12-year sentence for robbery and assault at Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan.

But Wilkins’ school biography page makes no mention of her time in jail.

Denise Blackwell, a “research assistant” under the Social Intervention Group, the parent/umbrella group of the Criminal Justice Initiative, was paroled in 2003 after serving 10 years in prison on an attempted second-degree murder conviction for her role in a Brooklyn holdup in which three drug dealers were killed. According to reports of her 1991 arrest, Blackwell knew the three men and “orchestrated” the robbery.

Blackwell’s son, Mack Moton, who was 15 at the time, was tried as an adult and convicted of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 32 years to life, and is being held in Sing Sing Correctional Facility, in Ossining, N.Y.

Mika’il DeVeaux was one of the keynote speakers for the CJI’s “Removing the Bars” Conference in 2012. But his bio in the conference program failed to mention the 24-year stint he served in Westchester County for second-degree murder and his subsequent parole in 2003, or that he’s co-director of a non-profit with Boudin called Citizens Against Recidivism. Instead, the bio simply says DeVeaux “has more than three decades of experience working with men incarcerated in New York State maximum security prisons and many who have been released following periods of confinement.”

And of course:

Boudin was a member of radical leftist group the Weather Underground, which was responsible for numerous bombings in the 1960s and 1970s, including ones at the Pentagon, Capitol Building and New York’s police headquarters. The group was co-founded by William Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, who themselves went on to long careers in academia in Chicago. The couple was appointed the legal guardians of Boudin’s son while she was in prison and has been linked to the early days of President Obama’s political career.

Give me neocons over ex-cons any day.

PS: And this doesn’t even mention the despicable antisemites lodged in Morningside Heights.

1 Comment »

  1. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

    It makes perfect sense that the social work department is running this program. I don’t know whether to laugh to weep. America, you were a great country.

    - Aggie

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