15th Annual John Jay/H.F. Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America

Is America Ready for Prison Reform?

women in prison

Photo by Lwp Kommunikáció via Flickr

Applications are now being accepted from working journalists to participate in the 15th annual John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America on February 20-Feb 21, 2020 at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.


Deadline: 11:59 P.M. ET December 16, 2019

(Apply below: please read criteria before submitting application!)

The 2020 symposium will brief journalists on the emerging movement to transform U.S. corrections at every level, from our overcrowded prisons and jails to our flawed community supervision system. The on-the-record sessions, organized by the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College, will bring working reporters and editors together with the country’s leading experts in the field to explore coverage ideas, and offer a provocative look at the innovative ideas and best practices that are driving efforts to “reimagine” our approach to punishment, while protecting public safety.

Fellows will have the opportunity to engage with justice professionals, practitioners, policymakers, advocates, and justice-impacted people from across the country for two days of workshops and discussions.


Leann Bertsch

Leann Bertsch

Leann Bertsch, director of the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCR), former president of the Association of State Correctional Administrators, and one of the country’s foremost voices for correctional reform, will lead a VIP group of experts at the conference. A program agenda will be available shortly.

Fellowship applications are welcome from U.S.-based print, online or broadcast media in a variety of justice-related beats (education, politics, health, crime, police, courts, etc.).  Successful applicants will receive all-expense-paid travel and accommodations to New York City for the duration of the two-day conference, and post-conference assistance during the Fellowship period.

Up to 30 prestigious journalism fellowships will be awarded in two categories: general & analytic writing, and investigative reporting.


The investigating reporting fellowships, sponsored by the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law,  are specifically designed to help journalists apply the concepts and techniques developed under the Sentinel Event approach–now used in Department of Justice-funded pilot projects around the country–to investigative journalism. The approach, developed by the medical and aviation communities, identifies the system failures that lead to outcomes like wrongful convictions or police shootings of civilians.

Quattrone Center specialists will hold a special briefing during the symposium and work with selected Fellows on their project during the year. To qualify for consideration for the Quattrone Fellowships, applicants must submit with their applications a brief summary of either an investigative project they are working on, or one they are considering, in any area of criminal justice. Selected Quattrone Fellows will also receive a $250 stipend.

NOTE: Applications will be accepted for work in other areas of criminal justice, but proposals for projects on prison and correction reform will be given priority.

Deadline: 11:59 P.M. ET December 16, 2019

Fellowships will be announced in January 2020


More than 1,500 reporters and editors have participated since 2005 in our series of competitive fellowships, designed to bring working print, online and broadcast journalists up to date on emerging areas of criminal justice, with the aim of promoting evidence-based reporting and facilitating access to new research and thought-leaders. Fellows are selected competitively on the basis of applications that demonstrate how their work in progress, or a proposed project, will benefit from their participation in the symposium.                            

Applications must include:

  • A short (100-150) word biography
  • A brief project pitch
  • A supporting letter from editor


 Deadline: 11:59 P.M. ET December 16, 2019

Fellowships will be announced in January 2020

The conference and fellowships are sponsored by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and other non-profit foundations in the justice field. For additional information, visit the Center on Media, Crime and Justice and The Crime Report.

Questions?  Please contact CMCJ Journalism Coordinator Joe Domanick at (310)435-5007 or jdomanick@jjay.cuny.edu;   or Ricardo Martinez at 646-557-5690 or rmartinez@jjay.cuny.edu.

This site will be updated as more information is available.

For reports on our 2019 Conference, please click here.