Bianca Tylek

  • Hosted by Urban Justice Center
  • Sponsored by Ropes & Gray LLP
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Prisoners' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2016
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Bianca worked to eliminate the perverse financial incentives that permeate the private outsourcing of prison services.

As a nation, we spend more than $80 billion annually to incarcerate 2.2 million people in facilities whose deplorable conditions, subpar treatment services, and ineffective programs engender recidivism. We spend another $100 billion on the courts and police who fill their beds. But the social costs of our failing criminal legal system, such as the harm done to people, families, and communities, are far higher. And these costs are not distributed evenly—their burden is carried largely by those we already detrimentally marginalize: low-income communities of color. Adding insult to injury, over the past few decades, private, public, and illicit actors have found various ways to financially exploit our criminal legal system and those it touches, victims and prisoners alike. From bail to probation and construction to commissary, these actors have commercialized each segment of our punishment continuum and built an industry that depends on stripping people of their liberties. In doing so, they have converted the justice-involved and their communities into cash machines, capitalizing on crime to create a legal form of human trafficking that targets those our social structures have failed.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Bianca has:

  • Launched the Corrections Accountability Project at the Urban Justice Center, which aims to eliminate the influence of commercial interests on the criminal legal system and those it touches;
  • Released a game-changing report that exposed over 3,000 companies involved in the prison industrial complex, which was covered by The Nation, The Pacific Standard, Colorlines, and other media outlets; and
  • Led a coalition that was able to successfully get the New York City Council to pass Introduction 741, making all calls out of the city’s jails free—a national first that will save directly impacted communities nearly $10 million per year.

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Bianca plans to continue leading the Corrections Accountability Project at the Urban Justice Center and expand the organization’s work and impact.


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