About Us

Milk Not Jails was a volunteer-run, grassroots campaign working to build a new urban-rural alliance in New York State. We were a group of urban and rural residents, prison justice activists, farmers, artists, formerly incarcerated people, local food enthusiasts, and prison families who believe that one important way to fix a dysfunctional prison system that plagues both rural and urban people and spaces is to build grassroots alliances amongst urban and rural communities.

From 2010 to 2018, Milk Not Jails used a multi-media, multi-strategy approach to advance our two immediate goals. First, we aimed to end upstate, rural New York’s dependency on the prison economy, which has created a dysfunctional relationship between urban and rural peoples and also has prevented improvements to the State’s criminal justice system from being made. Second, we worked to revitalize and invest in New York’s agricultural economy as a model alternative to the prison economy. Why agriculture? Prisons offer employment opportunities in rural areas, because rural New York is where 90 percent of the State’s prisons are located. Agriculture is the historic industry of rural New York and has the proven potential to connect urban and rural peoples in a healthy economic relationship.

From 2011 to 2015, Milk Not Jails also ran a multi-stakeholder cooperative to market, sell and distribute products made by farmers that endorse the Milk Not Jails Policy Agenda. Our social enterprise exclusively hired formerly incarcerated people to operate and own the business. Our social enterprise was made possible by hundreds of donors who helped us raise money to purchase our memorable pink milk truck.

Coming from diverse cultures and experiences, our social enterprise of workers and farmers and our volunteer-run collective formed a unique partnership to educate urban and rural New Yorkers, organize actions and rallies to pressure New York State to pass our Policy Agenda, and ran our dairy marketing and distribution company – from farm to shelf.

Meet Our Farmers
Meet Our Endorsers

Here are some photos of our members in action and with some of our favorite collaborators:


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