Amanda Klonsky

Headshot of Amanda Klonsky



  • 46800 Political Processes in Policy Formulation and Implementation 

Job experience

  • Consults with school districts, social service agencies, and policymakers, to improve the provision of educational supports and services to youth impacted by mass incarceration.

  • Provides research and communications support to systems stakeholders and advocates working to transform the criminal legal system. 

  • Served as Chief Program Officer of a large prison education program in the Northeastern United States. 

  • Directed a district-wide re-entry initiative at Chicago Public Schools, supporting  school return for detained and incarcerated young people. 

  • Co-led an arts and literacy program for youth in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center.

Fields of Special Interest

  •  Improving systems of education for people who are impacted by mass incarceration

  • The developmental and educational needs of people in the stage of emerging adulthood

  • Public health and the crisis of COVID-19 in American jails and prisons

  • Race and equity in education 

  • Criminalization of youth

  • Social movements and community organization 

Selected Publications 

  • Klonsky, A. (2020, March 16). Opinion: “An Epicenter of the Pandemic Will Be Jails and Prisons, if Inaction Continues.” New York Times. 

  • Klonsky, A. (2019, November 7). “The lifelong damage we do in Cook County when we jail kids as young as 10.” Chicago Sun-Times. 

  • Klonsky, A. (2018, October 4). “What Brett Kavanaugh can teach us about racism in America's legal system.” Chicago Sun-Times. 

  • Klonsky, A. (2018). “The Right to be Young: Entering Adulthood in America's Jails.”  [Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University]. 

  • Klonsky, A. (2016). “Do We Still Need Teacher Unions?” In P. Sahlberg, J. Hasak, & V. Rodriguez (Eds.), “Hard Questions on Global Educational Change: Policies, Practices, and the Future of Education.” Teachers College Press. 

Selected Presentations 

  • Harvard Kennedy School, Conference on Poverty and Inequality, “Race and Mass Incarceration”, February 2020 
  • Harvard Law School, Panel on Prison Education, “Learning Behind Bars: Education in America’s Prisons,” October 2016
  • Pennsylvania State University, Paul Robeson Center Symposium, “America’s Most Wanted: Unlocking the Prison Industrial Complex,” November 2015
  • American Education Research Association, Roundtable, “Critical Reflections on Community Research in Times of Widening Inequalities,” April 2015
  • Chicago Psychoanalytic Society, Panel on Schools, Emotional Resilience and LGBT Teens, “The Essential Other: Generativity, Resilience, and Narrative,” September 2013