Danny Murillo

2015 to 2016
The Vera Institute of Justice and NJ-STEP
Placement Location:
New York City & New Jersey
Service Interest:
Education in prison, Re-entry & higher education
Ethnic Studies
Norwalk, CA

Berkeley Experience: Danny graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelors in Arts degree in Ethnic Studies with a focus on race and prisons. While attending UC Berkeley Danny was a Ronald E. McNair and George A. Miller Scholar. His research interest looked at the disproportionate rate of suspension and the criminalization of Black male students in Oakland’s public schools. In addition Danny was a Peter E. Haas Public Service Leader at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Where he was the national policy intern on a community driven research project that addresses the economic impact of incarceration on communities of color. Danny was also a research assistant for the Carceral Geographies Course Thread, a curricular initiative sponsored by the Townsend Center for Humanities. Lastly, Danny was the co-founder of the Underground Scholars Initiative a student association dedicated to support UC Berkeley students who have been personally impacted by incarceration. The mission of the Underground Scholars is to create alternatives to criminalization and incarceration. We firmly believe, that education is an important resource which can help people who have been impacted by incarceration to transform and rebuild their lives.

Other Service Experience: In the summer of 2013 I became a spokesperson against the use of long-term solitary confinement, I took an active role as media representative during the California prison hunger strike. October 2013 I participated on a panel discussion with Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, where we discussed the inhumane treatment of solitary confinement in California prisons. 

Fellowship Goal: As a John Gardner Fellow I would like to continue the work I began as an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, which is to create a space where formerly incarcerated people can transform their lives through education and have the potential to inform incarceration policy and practice nationwide. I envision myself working with a non-profit organization that advocates for and collaborates with people who are presently and formerly incarcerated. I want to work with an organization that incorporates education as a re-entry resource for currently and /or formerly incarcerated people.

Post Fellowship Plans: My post fellowship plans are to pursue a Ph. D in Ethnic Studies or American Studies with a focus on the racialization of solitary confinement and the criminalization of cultural and political identity within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. My plans for employment is to become a professor and participate in the creation of a prison-to-university pipeline within the University of California system. I believe that education is a vital resource to help transform the lives of formerly incarcerated people.

Commitment to Service: My commitment to service is grounded in my life experience of growing up in communities impacted by economic displacement, gang violence, and structural racism. Claiming this personal history has been a challenging experience; however, I have been able to use my past as a catalyst for self-improvement, collaborative learning and community organizing. I want to utilize my civic and natural leadership skills to engage in a critical dialogue, through collaborative learning across cultures and communities with the purpose of upholding the human and civil rights of people who are presently and formerly incarcerated.  


Danny Murillo
Danny Murillo, John Gardner Fellows
Regardless of how much time and space I put in between myself and the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in Pelican Bay State Prison, the effects of isolation will always linger . My spirit resists, resiliently, the social pathologies known to “ develop in prisoners who struggle to adapt to the rigors ”...
Danny Murillo, John Gardner Fellows
Founded by Dr. Donald Roden of Rutgers University – New Brunswick, the MountainviewProgram (MVP) initially started as a volunteer GED tutoring group for incarcerated youth at the Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility in Annandale, New Jersey. In 2013 the MVP program was incorporated into a...
Danny Murillo, John Gardner Fellows
As I reflect upon my previous life where I was confined for up to twenty-two and a half hours per day to an 8-by-10 foot prison cell in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California, I recall that I would often get lost in my thoughts, hopelessly dreaming...