Sylvia A. Harvey, aka SAH, is an award-winning journalist and the author of The Shadow System: Mass Incarceration and the American Family, a searing exposé of the effects of the mass incarceration crisis on families — including the 2.7 million American children who have a parent locked up. She reports at the intersection of race, incarceration, gender, and policy. Her work has appeared in Elle, The Nation, Vox, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Appeal, Yes! Magazine, The Imprint, WNYC, The Root, Colorlines, The Feminist Wire, Huffington Post, Narratively, New York Post, and AOL’s Bedford-Stuyvesant Patch, where she served as a columnist covering gentrification, and more. Her commentary on race and the criminal justice system has been featured on NPR, WBAI, Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan, HuffPost Live, Radio Curious, and beyond.
SAH’s research and reporting investigate the way culture, politics, history, public health, public policy, and financial insecurity affect our lives. She focuses on how some of our most important social institutions – the criminal justice system, the child welfare system, and the education system – exacerbate the collateral effects of mass incarceration on families and communities. The Oakland native earned a BA in sociology from Columbia University, where her research experience advanced her commitment to understanding inequality, and fueled her desire to communicate her work beyond the academy. Leveraging her sociological training to examine social inequalities, she subsequently pursued graduate training in journalism at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.
She is the recipient of a Logan Non-Fiction Residency from The Carey Institute for Global Good, a Reporting Fellowship from Type Investigations of Type Media Center, a National Headliner Award recipient, and a National Association of Black Journalists, NABJ, Salute to Excellence awardee. In 2019, she received a visiting journalist appointment at The Russell Sage Foundation. She has spoken at numerous conferences and universities across the country. Her work is being used in university coursework and has been cited by federal lawmakers calling for criminal justice reform.
SAH lives in New York City. You can connect with her on social media as @Ms_SAH