CNN's Van Jones named the 2017 Justice Media Trailblazer by John Jay College of Criminal Justice

CNN's Van Jones named the 2017 Justice Media Trailblazer by John Jay College of Criminal Justice

CNN's Van Jones named the 2017 Justice Media Trailblazer by John Jay College of Criminal Justice

New York, NY --- Van Jones, CNN political commentator, has been selected as the 2017 Justice Media Trailblazer, an award given annually by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Crime Report to honor individuals in the media or media-related fields who have advanced national understanding on the 21st century challenges of criminal justice.

Jones, co-founder of #cut50, has been among the country’s leading voices for reducing mass incarceration. Among his other noteworthy initiatives, Jones’ advocacy organization, Dream Corps, connects tech sector career opportunities to under-represented people via #YesWeCode and works toward improving environmental justice via #GreenForAll.


“He’s a brilliant example of a change agent who has been able to use the power of the media to change minds and provoke a national conversation about the possibilities of reform in a criminal justice system that most experts agree is riddled with inequities,” said Stephen Handelman, executive editor of The Crime Report, and director of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay.

In addition to his criminal justice activism, Jones has been prominent in environmental causes and efforts to combat racism.  He is a founder of the Ella Baker Center and Color of Change. He also has served on the Board of Directors of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 1Sky, the National Apollo Alliance, Social Venture Network, Rainforest Action Network, Bioneers, Julia Butterfly Hill's "Circle of Life" organization, and Free Press. He currently serves on the board of trustees at Demos.

A former Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress and a former Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, his work in the media has been widely recognized with awards from The Root, Ebony, and Rolling Stone, among others.   In 2009 he was listed among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

Jones will be presented with the Trailblazer award on Feb 16, 2017 in a special dinner at John Jay College, following the announcement of the winners of the 12th Annual John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim prizes for Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting, called the "Pulitzers" of criminal justice journalism.

Past Justice Trailblazer winners include David Simon of “The Wire”, “Treme”, and “Homeland”; Piper Kerman, originator of “Orange is the New Black”; NPR's Maria Hinojosa, producer of Latino USA; and New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb.

To purchase a seat or table at the Trailblazer dinner visit

Don Lemon, host of CNN Tonight will present the award to Van Jones.  In 2009, Ebony named him as one of the Ebony Power 150: the most influential Blacks in America. Among his many honors, he won an Edward R. Murrow award for his coverage of the capture of the Washington, D.C. snipers.  Lemon serves as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College, teaching and participating in curriculum designed around new media. 

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nationsIn teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit

The Center on Media, Crime and Justice, established at John Jay College in 2006, is the nation's only practice- and research-oriented think tank devoted to encouraging and developing high-quality reporting on criminal justice, and to promoting better-informed public debate on the complex 21st century challenges of law enforcement, public security and justice in a globalized urban society. For more information, visit the Center on Media, Crime and Justice website or

The Crime Report is a collaboration of John Jay Center on Media, Crime and Justice and Criminal Justice Journalists and is a comprehensive news service covering the diverse challenges and issues of 21st century criminal justice in the U.S. and abroad. Staffed by working journalists in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, it is published daily.  TCR’s prizewinning coverage includes investigative reports by the some of the nation’s most accomplished reporters;  analysis, blogs  and commentary by leading criminologists, practitioners, law enforcement/corrections professionals, and legal experts; reports on new and cutting-edge research; and daily summaries of the most important criminal justice news, issues and developments covered by the national and international press.