William Outlaw is an award-winning community advocate in New Haven. He co-directs the Connecticut Violence Interruption Project, which seeks to reduce youth violence in New Haven, and is also a Senior Community Advocate at Good Will where he helps returning prisoners reenter the community.

As a young man, William was a violence creator, as opposed to a violence interrupter. As a teenager, he co-ran the largest cocaine gang in New Haven and was making a million dollars a year. In his early twenties, he was sentenced to 85 years in prison for homicide and armed assault. However, his original sentence was modified after an appeal to the Connecticut Superior Court, and he ended up serving 20 years. In the first part of his prison odyssey he was incorrigible and placed in the most notorious federal prisons in the country, including nine months in solitary confinement in Kansas.

Transformed by his relationship with a therapist and a desire to redeem his old life, Outlaw was released and returned to New Haven in 2008. He got a job at Dunkin Donuts and has since dedicated himself to mentoring young people and promoting non-violence.



Charles Barber is a Writer in Residence at Wesleyan University and a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Yale. In addition to Citizen Outlaw, he is the author of Songs from the Black Chair, a memoir, and Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation. He has written widely on mental health and criminal justice issues in popular and scholarly publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, The Nation and Scientific American Mind. He was educated at Harvard and Columbia.

As a criminal justice researcher at The Connection Institute, he co-designed a study funded by the Department of Justice involving the hiring of former prisoners as counselors in a halfway house. The intervention resulted in dramatically lower criminal recidivism and was named the Outstanding Criminal Justice Program in the Northeast by the National Criminal Justice Association.

Charles and William met weekly for five years to create Citizen Outlaw.