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"Everything we were told to believe

about justice, violence, crime, race, gender

needs to be rethought

And I am here rethinking it all in

real time through my words.

Why?  Prison made me do it."

Marlon Peterson Bio

Marlon is the host of the Decarcerated Podcast and Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity. He is also the founder and chief re-imaginator of The Precedential Group, a social justice consulting firm, and a 2015 recipient of the prestigious Soros Justice Fellowship.


Ebony Magazine has named him one of America's 100 most influential and inspiring leaders in the Black community.  He is also an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar, and Fall 2016 TED Resident. His TED Talk"Am I not human? a call for criminal justice reform," has over 1 million views.


Marlon spent his entire 20's inside of New York State prisons for his involvement in a crime as a teenager. During that time he earned an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice with Honors. He spent the last five years of his incarceration as the head of the Transitional Services Center where he created programming and curricula for men nearing release from incarceration. He also spearheaded and designed an experiential workshop for incarcerated men and college students from Vassar College called, "Vassar & Otisville--Two Communities Bridging the Gap."

Marlon Peterson, Decarcerated Podcast
Marlon TED Talk

During his incarceration he collaborated with friend, author, and founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, Dr. Nadia Lopez, to create a letter correspondence mentorship program with middle school students.  This program set the foundation for the creation of H.O.L.L.A. (How Our Lives Link Altogether). Serving as the founding executive director, HOLLA is a 2016 recepient of an Echoing Green Fellowship under the leadership of the current executive director, Andrew Cory Green.


Since his release in prison in December 2009, Marlon has held several nonprofit positions. He is the former Director of Community Relations at The Fortune Society,and previously served as the Associate Director of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, founding coordinator of Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets, and co-founder of How Our Lives Link Altogether (H.O.L.L.A!). Marlon serves as a board member of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, the Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, and advisory board member to the Center for Court Innovation

Marlon graduated from New York University with a Bachelors of Science with a concentration on Organizational Behavior. 

Marlon's writings have appeared in Ebony, Gawker, The Nation, USA Today, NewsOne,The Crime Report, Black Press USA, Huff Post,  The Root, Colorlines, and other online publications.  He has contributed to Kiese Laymon's award winning novel, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and Love Lives Here, Too by former New York Times columnist, Sheila Rule, and the upcoming anthology by Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin, How to Fight White Supremacy.

Marlon lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is working on his first novel.

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