Chandra Bozelko did time in a maximum-security facility in Connecticut. She’s not scared of much, certainly not of conflict. That’s where she leans in.
She has criticized Harvey Weinstein’s perp walk. She defends prison labor. While she’s not a Donald Trump supporter, she’s called out the press for attacking our president for hiring and befriending an ex-offender. She’s neither conservative or liberal and some of her ideas might surprise you.
Her thought leadership started when she served more than six years in prison for nonviolent crimes that remain on appeal.
While she sweated out whether her convictions would be overturned, she became the first incarcerated person to have a regular byline in a publication outside of the facility. The column, “Prison Diaries,” ran in The New Haven Independent.
While she was incarcerated, she also published a book of poetry called “Up the River: An Anthology,” and she saved her unpublished columns to use when she came home. Those unpublished columns became the award-winning blog Prison Diaries. Prison Diaries has won two awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, three from the Connecticut Press Club in 2018, two from the National Federation of Press Women, among others.
This year, after being honored in the “Weird” category in 2015 and 2016, Prison Diaries won the People’s Voice Webby Award -- considered the “Oscars of the internet” by The New York Times -- in the personal blog/website category.
Chandra also published more than 150 commentary pieces since 2014 in the country’s top newspapers and regional papers.
In January 2017, she 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.
She was named a Journalism and Women Symposium Emerging Journalist fellow in June 2017 and, for 2018, is now a JustLeadershipUSA 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.
Chandra’s work isn’t limited to writing. She was named to the junior board of the Women’s Prison Association, the country’s oldest organization dedicated to assisting justice-involved women. She is the vice president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and was named a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.
Justice stories and issues abound in the news. Chandra’s new column, “The Outlaw” is more than just an insider’s take on criminal justice; it’s about transgressions in general. Who did what wrong? And how do we respond to what that person has done? Perhaps most importantly, what does that person need to do to be redeemed?
“The Outlaw” will answer all those questions… and more.