Kirk Anthony James is a writer, educator, clinician, and speaker on issues pertaining to social justice. His research focuses on deconstructing issues of mass incarceration, particularly as they pertain to trauma, cognitive development, and culpability. He examines systems that perpetuate racial injustice within the criminal justice system.
Dr. James founded and co-leads EVOLVE, an organization that uses transformative education to end mass incarceration. His doctoral dissertation, “The Invisible Epidemic in Social Work Academia,” examined the complex phenomena of mass incarceration through a historical and contemporary analysis, and developed curricula for master’s level students to increase awareness, activism, and holistic practice. Courses developed from his dissertation have been implemented at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania. During his doctoral studies, Dr. James developed and directed the Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI). The GRI aims to reduce recidivism for individuals transitioning from Philadelphia jails, and to train clinical and macro-level social work students to work with incarcerated individuals before and after release. The GRI developed “Breaking Down Walls,” an annual conference for activists, practitioners, and community members in Philadelphia that aims to create a dynamic dialogue and to inform a socially just response to one of the greatest social injustice issues of our generation.
Dr. James earned his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. He is formerly incarcerated, having been entrapped as teenager and sentenced to life in prison under the New York State Rockefeller Drug Laws.