Amanda Klonsky


969 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637

Areas of Expertise
Criminal Justice Policy
Mass Incarceration
Public Health
Human Rights and Social Work: Opportunities for Policy and Practice

This course will explore how international human rights law and principles provide a foundation for repairing the harms done by collective human rights trauma. The...

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Political Processes in Policy Formulation and Implementation

Policies are formulated in a social and political environment which gives them shape, and which they, in turn, can be expected to alter. This course surveys a range of...

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  • Klonsky, A., Reinhart, E. (2021, August 26). Opinion: "Get Police Vaccinated, And prison guards, and jail workers, and anyone else charged with protecting the public's safety."
  • 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. 


  • 46800 Political Processes in Policy Formulation and Implementation
  • 47812 Human Rights Policy and Practice
  • 68900 Critical Conversations - School Safety and Policing 

Job experience

  • Current - Research and Policy Fellow at the UCLA COVID Behind the Bars Data Project.  The project collects and analyzes public information about the coronavirus pandemic in prisons, jails, youth facilities, and immigration detention centers across the United States.  The centralized source of data enables greater oversight of and accountability for carceral institutions' response to the pandemic behind bars.  Also records legal and community responses to the crisis, including mass releases, legal filings, court orders, and organizing efforts.  
  • Previous - 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

  • Public health and the crisis of COVID-19 in American jails and prisons
  • 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
  • Race and equity in education 
  • Criminalization of youth
  • Social movements and community organization 

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