Breakthrough in Abolition Through Transformative Learning Exchange (BATTLE)

Breakthrough in Abolition Through Transformative Learning Exchange (BATTLE) cultivates partnerships between formerly incarcerated community leaders, law students and policy makers focused on social justice projects aimed at dismantling mass incarceration and encouraging full participation of those directly impacted.

How to get involved

BATTLE is a offered as a course at Columbia Law School for those seeking to understand and enact strategies for advancing racial and social justice with and for communities affected by mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex. Students will work collaboratively with justice-involved individuals to

  1. Identify the historical, legal, economic, and political dimensions of the prison industrial complex and its abolition
  2. Explore the impact of the civil rights amendments as interpreted by courts and legislatures on political, economic, and social participation by communities of color
  3. Identify disconnects between the current law school curriculum and the lived experiences and insights of those directly impacted by the criminal legal system
  4. Identify and pursue forms of law, policy, legal education, and activism that advance economic and political empowerment of communities affected by mass incarceration
  5. Build partnerships that embrace a trauma-informed approach and offer civic engagement education and organizing efforts led by justice-involved advocates in response to the impact of structural racism, mass incarceration and intergenerational disenfranchisement of communities of color.

BATTLE is a path-breaking program of the Center of Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School. We work collaboratively with formerly incarcerated community leaders and law students in the development of racial and social justice reform strategies anchored in the credibility and leadership of individuals and communities impacted by structural racism and mass incarceration.

Our goals for our Community Leaders are: 

  1. To cultivate community-led responses through critical participatory action research practices with formerly incarcerated leaders in effort to transform impacted communities’ relationship to power
  2. Transform legal education through actionable community engagement initiatives around civic engagement, participatory organizing, and transformative learning exchange through the lens of those who have been through the criminal justice system
  3. Further professional skills development, including:
    • Coalition building
    • Participatory organizing
    • Critical Participatory Action Research as a form of strategic analysis, project design and implementation, and knowledge generation
    • Facilitation of large and small group workshops
    • Leadership development
    • Mentoring