Glenn Rodriguez, Program Director at the Horizon Juvenile Center, is an innovative leader and advocate for criminal justice reform and a broad array of social justice issues whose inspiring story of redemption and fight for freedom have captured mainstream media attention and facilitated debate on responsible and ethical use of technology in the correctional system.
Over the past three years, Glenn has held several positions at the Center for Community Alternatives, Inc. (CCA), a not-for-profit organization that promotes reintegrative justice and a reduced reliance on incarceration through advocacy, services, and public policy development in pursuit of civil and human rights.
Glenn began his professional career as a Case Manager working with justice-involved youth who were court-mandated to participate in CCA’s Youth Advocacy Project, an alternative to incarceration program. In his role as case manager, Glenn was instrumental in helping court-involved teens navigate the complexities of their day-to-day lives. Glenn conducted intake interviews, psychosocial evaluations, needs assessments, and weekly individual counseling sessions necessary to develop client-centered treatment plans and make referrals to community-based resources. Glenn quickly emerged as a leader in his department.
In November of 2018, Glenn was promoted to Director of Case Management for Youth Services. In his role as Director, Glenn worked closely with Youth Services leadership to develop and implement ongoing training and evaluation plans for Case Management staff. Glenn supported case management staff in developing service plans for each participant, oversaw the provision of quality onsite afterschool programming, and the coordination of internal (education, mental health, mentoring, and employment) and external referrals.
Glenn’s impressive work ethic and dedication to helping at risk youth brought him even greater opportunities to do what he loves. In July of 2019, Glenn was promoted to his current role of Program Director at the Horizon Juvenile Center, a secure detention facility located in the South Bronx. In his current role, Glenn is responsible for developing the program vision, implementation and evaluation protocol for the Career Exploration Program (CEP). Glenn manages the delivery of high-quality enrichment, restorative justice, and career pathways workshops through youth development and trauma-informed best practices. Glenn is the primary liaison with the Administration for Children’s Services’ (ACS) administrative staff and is responsible for developing innovative youth engagement strategies including a peer leadership program designed to provide feedback on the CEP program.
Glenn’s passion for working with inner-city youth derives from his personal experience. Following the tragic loss of both parents by the age of 4, Glenn was raised by his maternal grandmother in a single-parent household. Glenn grew up in Inwood, a crime-riddled sector of Manhattan, at the height of the War on Drugs. During his sophomore year of high school, at the age of 16, Glenn joined five other teens and partook in a robbery that resulted in the death of a young used car salesman.
Following his arrest in 1990, Glenn was charged, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to 26 ½ years to life in prison. Starting in 1999, Glenn volunteered for the Youth Assistance Program (YAP) in Auburn, New York, a program designed to combat juvenile delinquency and substance abuse in at-risk youth ages 13-18. Glenn quickly emerged as the program’s Co-chairman. For the next four years, Glenn was responsible for assessing scheduled youth participant’s needs and tailoring group sessions to address the identified needs. Glenn assisted facility staff with screening prospective YAP panel members and trained prospective panel members during a year-long orientation.
Between 2005 and 2010, Glenn served as the Senior Advisor to the YAP program at Comstock, New York. Glenn simultaneously held a position as Resident Director of the Transitional Services Program at Great Meadow Correctional Facility. As Resident Director, Glenn was responsible for networking with community organizations that provided services to formerly incarcerated individuals. Glenn assisted inmates with securing transitional housing, employment, and substance/alcohol abuse treatment programs upon release. In addition, Glenn facilitated basic interview and communication skills, resume writing workshops, and job search strategies.
In 2007, Glenn completed his Counseling Aide I certification from the New York State Department of Labor. That same year, Glenn began working as a facilitator for the Aggression Replacement Training program (ART). In his role as ART facilitator, Glenn conducted 16-week workshops, consisting of experiential learning modules, for groups of 15-20 clients. ART workshops were comprised of presentations dealing with anger management, domestic violence, conflict resolution, moral reasoning, and suicide prevention. Glenn exposed clients to the concepts of victimization and victim’s rights and engaged clients in conversations about the social impact of crime on the community.
In 2012, Glenn earned certification as an HIV/AIDS Peer Counselor from the Osborne Association. Beginning in 2012, Glenn facilitated basic and advanced HIV/AIDS courses and provided information on transmission, prevention, testing, and treatment. Also in 2012, Glenn was accepted into the Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) program, a prison-based dog training program that serves wounded war veterans from post-9/11 conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as law enforcement officers. In 2014, Glenn became a certified Dog Trainer. Glenn emerged as a leader in the PBB program and emerged as a facilitator assisting PBB staff in the training of other inmates and their respective dogs.
In 2013, Glenn applied and was accepted into the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) program, a prison-based college program. By 2016, Glenn had earned an Associate of Arts degree and applied to BPI’s Bachelor of Arts program. In June of 2016, Glenn was accepted into the BPI’s Bachelor of Arts program. Having served more than 25 years behind bars with a near-perfect record of rehabilitation and a passion to help people and society, to everyone’s surprise, Glenn was denied parole due to a problematic, biased software used by the parole board (COMPAS) to decide the fate of incarcerated people and whether they are ready to be reintegrated into society.
With unwavering determination, and the support of Cynthia H. Conti-Cook, in the Special Litigations Unit at the Legal Aid Society, and Rebecca Wexler, Yale Public Interest Fellow, who authored the Washington Monthly article featuring Glenn’s story, Glenn fought to overturn the erroneous decision by software that would’ve kept him incarcerated for another two years. In 2017, despite all odds, and with letters of support from correctional and political leaders, Glenn convinced a panel of parole commissioners that his decades of rehabilitation prepared him well to reintegrate into society. Glenn was released from Eastern N.Y. Correction Facility on May 11, 2017.
Since obtaining parole in 2017, Glenn has been a leading critic of the flaws inherent in risk assessment technology (including biased algorithms like the one that denied him his freedom) and an outspoken advocate and thought-leader for criminal justice reform at the Center for Community Alternatives.
Glenn is currently employed by CCA, enrolled as a full-time student at Lehman College, majoring in Public Policy and Service, and serves as an Advisor for Tech2025.
Through his public speaking engagements across the country, and his writings, Glenn aims to humanize, and give a voice to, incarcerated men and women adversely affected by technology by sharing his story and engaging in meaningful discourse and problem-solving with all stakeholders. Glenn’s story is a compelling tale of courage and perseverance in the face of adversity; a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of education and introspection. Glenn’s experience highlights the unintended consequences of using predictive technology and its limitations.
Glenn’s story has been featured in articles in the Washington Monthly, The New York Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, NPR Radio, and ABC News. Glenn story also appears in the VPRO documentary entitled “Algorithms Rule Us All,” and the podcast series entitled “The Watchmen: Sleepwalkers,” episode 3. Glenn has presented at the 2019 National Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency, and at the New York City School of Data. He has co-authored a chapter entitled “The Coming of the Super-Predators: Race, Policing, and Resistance to the Criminalization of Youth,” with Marsha Weissman, Ph.D., Social Science, Adjunct Professor, Sociology, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University, and Evan Weissman, Ph.D., Geography, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, Syracuse University. The chapter will be published in New Thinking in Community Corrections: Community-Based Responses to Justice-Involved Young Adults, later this year.
Media Stories on Glenn
Interviews, Articles, Public Speaking
When a Computer Program Keeps You in Jail (New York Times) READ MORE
College Classes In Maximum Security: 'It Gives You Meaning' (NPR) READ MORE
US prisoners seize opportunity to receive education through Bard Prison Initiative (Sydney Morning Herald) READ MORE
NYC School of Data Parole Denied: One Man's Fight Against COMPAS and Algorithmic Decision Making Facilitated by Legal Aid Society (co-presented with Cynthia Conti-Cook, Data & Society fellow 2018-2019, Staff Attorney at the Special Litigation Unit of The Legal Aid Society (NYC) [more info]
Book Glenn Rodriguez to Speak
An inspiring story. Compelling insights. Actionable information to drive positive change.
Glenn speaks on a range of topics related to the impact of emerging technologies in the criminal justice system including technologies being used inside of prisons and technologies being used to manage parolees.
He is particularly passionate about giving technology developers, legislators and companies first-hand insights into how biased algorithms impact vulnerable members of society and what they can do to avoid potentially devasting and costly liability from implementing predictive technologies using biased data.
Glenn is the only formerly incarcerated person in the county who was erroneously denied his freedom by predictive technologies. His experience and struggle fighting for his freedom after challenging both the algorithm that said he was "unfit for society" and the corrections system that initially defended the technology, offers audiences a unique and personal view of this societal problem.
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