Vice President, 2018-2020
Often called the ‘new’ Orange Is the New Black, Chandra Bozelko is a writer and thought leader on all issues related to criminal justice reform.
As a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University who was in the middle of post-graduate study (law and public health) when she was arrested, Chandra was an unlikely inmate. She served more than six years at the York Correctional Institution, Connecticut’s only state women’s prison, for non-violent crimes that remain on appeal. While she was incarcerated, she published a book of poetry entitled Up the River: An Anthology (BleakHouse, 2013) which won American University’s Best Book Award in 2015.
Chandra was the first inmate to write a regular newspaper column from behind bars which The New Haven Independent named “Prison Diaries.” Prison Diaries is now a weekly blog of columns written by Chandra while she was still incarcerated. Prison Diaries won the People’s Voice Webby Award in 2018 for Personal Blog or Website and has won two awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (2016 and 2018).
Chandra has published over 140 columns since her release. Her written commentary has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, USA Today, US News and World Report, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Reuters, The Lily, Forbes, Elle, Ms. Magazine, Quartz, The Guardian, The Hill, The Huffington Post, NBC News Think, CNN.com, Wired and newspapers in 26 states (The Montgomery Advertiser (AL), The Arizona Daily Star, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Connecticut Mirror, The Hartford Courant, The New Haven Register, The New London Day, The Delaware News-Journal, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Idaho Press-Tribune, The Cedar Rapids Gazette (IA), The Louisville Journal Courier, The Missoulian (MT), The New Orleans Times Picayune, The Baltimore Sun, The Bangor Daily News, The Albany Times Union, The New York Daily News, The Oklahoman, The Oregonian, The Charleston (SC) City Paper, The Knoxville News Sentinel, The Texas Tribune, The Deseret News (UT), The Vermont Digger, The Virginian-Pilot, The Wyoming Eagle Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Weekly.)
Every column of Chandra’s is unique and has influenced policy in measurable ways, including convincing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to reverse the the state’s refusal to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, causing Connecticut Gov. Dannell Malloy to rethink the closing of job centers in the state, and causing the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act to include the matter of menstrual equity in prisons.
Chandra has appeared on CNN as an expert commentator and is widely quoted in mainstream media on issues related to incarceration. She speaks at colleges and universities and political events held at the State Capitol of Connecticut.
She is an expert commentator for the publication The Hill and a member of the Washington Post Talent Network.
In January 2017, Ms. Bozelko was granted a John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim Criminal Justice Reporting Fellowship to report on indigent defense under the new presidential administration; her four-part series is forthcoming in The Guardian. She was named a Journalism and Women Symposium Emerging Journalist Fellow in June 2017.
In September 2017, Chandra was named to the junior board of the Women’s Prison Association, the country’s oldest organization dedicated to assisting justice-involved women.
For 2018, Chandra is a JustLeadership USA ‘Leading with Conviction’ Fellow, a Pretrial Justice Institute ‘Pretrial Innovation Leader’, a Langeloth Foundation Solitary Confinement Reporting Fellow and a Ted Scripps Leadership Institute fellow through the Society of Professional Journalists.
She won 8 awards – six of them first place finishes – from The Connecticut Press Club in May, and four awards from the National Federation of Press Women.
Chandra lives in Connecticut.