14th Annual John Jay/H.F. Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America



A candlelight service outside the White House for victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shootings. Photo by Adam Fagen via Flickr

Is America a violent country?  On an average day, 96 Americans are killed by guns. Mass shootings, such as the Parkland Fl., school tragedy and the October, 2018 massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, continue to make headlines.




These tragic incidents also form part of the background climate for arguments made, primarily by the administration, that violent crime and “carnage” have re-emerged as threats to Americans’ public safety.

Yet although the data suggest that violent crime rates are continuing to decline, (with important exceptions), there are many other dimensions of violence in America that raise concerns, such as domestic violence and hate crimes.

How does the U.S. public sift through these apparently contradictory realities—and how can the media provide the important context for public policy debates that can address them?

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation are sponsoring a year-long Reporting Fellowship aimed at bringing journalists together with criminologists, practitioners, and experts in the field to go behind the headlines, and explore the varied forms of violence and conflict in the U.S., from mass shootings and hate crimes to prison violence and domestic abuse, their intersection with the justice system, and best practices in intervention and prevention.

Up to 25 journalists from U.S.-based print, online or broadcast media will be selected for the Fellowship.

In addition, up to four Fellowships will be offered to investigative journalists examining flaws in the U.S. justice system by the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania.

Both Fellowship programs kick off with a two-day Symposium at John Jay College in New York on Feb 21-22, 2019. The annual  Symposium on Crime in America is  one of the signature, prestigious events in the country’s criminal justice calendar. It is the only national forum that brings together journalists, practitioners, advocates, and scholars for candid conversations about emerging criminal justice challenges.

A provisional agenda is available here.

In addition to our main theme, the 2019 symposium will explore some other topical areas of criminal justice that are beginning to receive attention from specialists and the press. including the growing efforts to re-think our system of community supervision, the opioid epidemic and court reform.

A special panel will be dedicated to analyzing the impact of the 2016 Midterm Elections on justice reform at both the federal and state levels.

Our keynote speaker next year will be George Gascon, San Francisco’s DA, and one of the country’s leading advocates of policing and court reform.

Other confirmed participants so far include Vincent Schiraldi, former NYC Correction Commissioner and now head of Columbia University’s Justice Lab; noted criminologists Al Blumstein, Rick Rosenfeld, Janet Lauritsen and James Fox; Frank Straub, former Spokane police chief and now director of strategic studies for the National Police Foundation; Mark Holden, general counsel of Koch Industries; and Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof.

The 2019 Symposium will also again be the setting for our John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim Annual Awards for Excellence in Criminal Justice (for single story and series), and for our annual dinner honoring a “Justice Trailblazer” in the media or a media-related field, who has contributed significantly to the nation’s ongoing debate about justice.


Note: Sorry!  The official applications deadline has passed. Please contact CMCJ Director Stephen Handelman with any questions, at shandel@ix.netcom.com 

The 2019 symposium is organized by John Jay’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice, and supported with a grant from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. Additional supporters include the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice.