On July 24, longtime prison reform advocate Edwin “Eddie” Ellis passed away. He was 72 years old. A nationally recognized figure in the fight to reform the criminal justice system, Ellis was the founder of the Centre for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions.
Before becoming a leading voice in the prison reform movement, Ellis was a member of the Black Panther Party and was incarcerated for 25 years for a murder he did not commit. He was one of the last people to remain in the Attica Correctional Facility after its famous riots. In 1979, Ellis was part of a group of men that introduced the Seven Neighborhood Study. This study documented the disproportionate representation of Black and Latino men from seven neighborhoods in New York State’s prison system.
Ellis founded the NuLeadership Policy Group in 2001. The organization conducts research, advocacy, and leadership training to help currently and formerly incarcerated individuals, and Ellis worked tirelessly to examine the current criminal justice system and identify solutions for more humane and fair approaches.
CASES’ Director of Youth Programs, Rukia Lumumba, issued the following statement:
“Eddie Ellis was a champion of prison reform. He worked hard to provide concrete evidence of the racial and class disparities that remain in our criminal system and to push for real and lasting improvements. He made a point of giving voice to the many men and women locked behind prison bars and served as an inspiration to many advocates, service providers, and persons’ formerly incarcerated. He will be greatly missed, and his legacy will live on in the many lives he has touched.”