Covering America’s Jail Crisis


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Sponsored by John Jay College’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice, the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation

On July 10-11, 2018, John Jay’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice (CMCJ) will hold a two-day conference to kick off a year-long media fellowship program designed to strengthen the capacity of journalists in rural and smaller jurisdictions to investigate the causes of the growth in jail populations, and report on policy remedies and alternatives.

Up to 30 spaces are available for journalists to participate as Reporting Fellows in the program. The conference, which will be held on the main John Jay campus at 524 W. 59th Street in New York City, will bring journalists together with leading practitioners, researchers and officials who are involved in jail and incarceration issues for in-depth, on-the-record discussions. During the fellowship year, Fellows will participate in periodic online “refresher” sessions with sources and policymakers (via Webinars) and will receive additional research assistance for their projects as needed.

Fellows will receive all-expense paid accommodation in New York and travel for the conference.

Fellows will be selected through a competitive process. Applicants are encouraged to highlight any work-in-progress that will benefit from their participation. Applications must also be accompanied by a reference letter from a senior editor or assigning editor. Fellows’ work may be cross-posted in The Crime Report, an online criminal justice news and resource network published by the CMCJ for the attention of a wider national audience.

Selected Fellows will be required to attend both days of the conference, and will participate in webinars and receive an array of technical, research and other support from CMCJ staff and experts.

Eligibility: Working journalists who write, broadcast or report online for U.S.-based outlets are eligible to apply. Special preference will be given to media in small or rural areas, or those covering state capitals. Applicants should provide brief bios, a supporting letter from an editor and a brief description of projects underway or contemplated relating to jail/rural justice issues. As one condition of approval, Fellows will be expected to have produced for publication one or several stories related to their project proposals within six months of the conference close. Freelance journalists are also eligible to apply, as long as they fit program criteria.

Applications should include:

  • A short (100-150) word biography.
  • A supporting letter from editor.

Deadline: Applications can still be entered through Wednesday, June 6. Selected fellows will be notified the week of June 11, 2018.

Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Maurice Possley is our Journalism Coordinator for the project.

To apply for the Fellowship, click here.

Questions? Please contact journalism coordinator Maurice Possley at or project administrator Ricardo Martinez at

The Rural Justice reporting fellowship is one of the ongoing programs administered by the John Jay College Center on Media, Crime and Justice (CMCJ) to help journalists expand their evidence-based reporting on criminal justice topics. Freelance journalists are also eligible to apply, as long as they fit program criteria. (See below.) Some reimbursement for travel and expenses is available.

CMCJ is a member of the Research Consortium of John Jay College.