Elly Kalfus (2017)

I am a penal abolitionist, an improviser, and a fan of jellyfish. I grew up in the Bronx, went to the Bronx High School of Science and then Brandeis University, graduating with a bachelor of arts in English in 2013. Since then I have considered Massachusetts my home, where I have found amazing community and radical organizing.

I have worked to challenge the prison industrial complex for many years, investigating cases of wrongful conviction with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and the Committee for Public Counsel Services' Innocence Program, and evaluating states' indigent defense systems with the Sixth Amendment Center.

I seek to end reliance on the carceral state by calling attention to the widespread harm it causes all of us and the specific harm it causes imprisoned people and the communities they are stolen from. I want to create storytelling projects in collaboration with people directly affected by the carceral state, and wish to situate my work within the context of oral history and narrative storytelling for social change.  Most recently I have been exploring Massachusetts' history of taking voting rights away from incarcerated people, and the creative resistance incarcerated people have mounted in opposition. I am inspired by the risk-taking, intelligence and organizing of incarcerated people across the world.