Jennifer J. Parish

Jennifer J. Parish teaches Contemporary Social Issues at the Columbia University School of Social Work. She is the director of criminal justice advocacy at the Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project. In that capacity she advocates for discharge planning for people with psychiatric disabilities released from jails and prisons, elimination of the practice of placing people with mental illness in solitary confinement in correctional facilitie, and the expansion of alternatives to incarceration for people with psychiatric disabilities involved in the criminal justice system.  

Ms. Parish’s work includes systemic litigation, legislative advocacy, and community education. She co-counsels Brad H. v. City of New York, a landmark case that requires New York City to provide discharge planning to people receiving mental health treatment in the city jails. She also organizes Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement, a coalition fighting to end the placement of people with mental illness in solitary confinement in state prisons, and is a founding member of the New York City Jails Action Coalition. In addition, Ms. Parish co-counsels Clark v. Astrue and Martinez v. Astrue, litigation to combat the Social Security Administration’s policy of depriving people with outstanding warrants of their disability benefits.

Prior to joining the Urban Justice Center in 2004, Ms. Parish worked as a public defender with The Legal Aid Society of New York and as a visiting associate clinical professor at the Criminal Law Clinic at Cardozo Law School. As a New York City Teaching Fellow, Ms. Parish taught second grade in a public school in the Bronx and received an M.S. in Elementary Education from Lehman College.

Ms. Parish received her B.A. from Austin College with a degree in Communication Arts and her J.D. from New York University School of Law.