Michelle Jones is a sixth-year doctoral student in the American Studies program New York University. She is interested in excavating the collateral consequences of criminal convictions for people and families directly impacted by mass incarceration, in addition to participating in a scholarly project challenging the narratives of the history of women’s prison with a group of incarcerated scholars. Even while incarcerated, Michelle published and presented her research findings to dispel notions of about the reach and intellectual capacity of justice-involved women. Michelle’s advocacy extends beyond the classroom through collaborations and opportunities to speak truth to power. While incarcerated, she presented legislative testimony on a reentry alterative she created for long-term incarcerated people that was approved by the Indiana State Interim Committee on the Criminal Code and has joined the advisory boards of the Lumina Foundation and the Urban Institute.
She is chairwoman of the board of Constructing Our Future, a reentry alterative for women created by incarcerated women in Indiana and a 2017-18 Beyond the Bars fellow, a 2017-18 Research Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University, and a 2018-19 Ford Foundation Bearing Witness Fellow with Art for Justice, 2019 SOZE Right of Return Fellow, 2019 Code for America Fellow and 2019-2020 Mural Arts Fellow. Michelle is currently under contract with The New Press to publish the history of Indiana’s carceral institutions for women with fellow incarcerated and formerly incarcerated scholars. As an artist, further, Michelle is interested in finding ways to funnel her research pursuits into theater, dance and photography. Her original co-authored play, “The Duchess of Stringtown,” was produced in December 2017 in Indianapolis and New York City.