Puzzle Nesbitt

Program Associate, Criminal Justice Initiatives

Puzzle Nesbitt is a Program Associate for the Criminal Justice Initiatives at Borealis. Puzzle is an advocate and raptivist whose work is committed to criminal abolition. As a young adult with no priors, Puzzle was sentenced to 17 years (12 in prison; 5 on parole) for a violent crime where no violence ever occurred. After being railroaded at trial, and convicted criminally liable for another person, Puzzle appealed her case 9 times (8 pro se). Puzzle has firsthand experience of the brutality of the American criminal slavery system, and how it alters and destroys the lives of individuals and families. Puzzle uses these experiences to expose the many forms of injustices (not in mainstream convo) in hopes of revealing the systems hidden features,  to inform better policy changes; one that focuses on solutions beyond prison, parole, and criminalization as a tool for justice.

Puzzle served as an Advisory Council Member for the Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene’s “Health Justice Network”, which was designed to plan and provide better health services for people with justice involvement. Puzzle completed an Urban Food Farming internship with ‘Black Urban Growers’ (BUG), which focused on developing skills in community organizing and food justice advocacy. She has written a research project titled, “The Nature of Mental Health Care in NYS Women’s Prison,” and is currently working on another research project titled, “Prison Food; Hidden Genocide.” Puzzle was a Ford Foundation fellow for one year, where she explored multiple career paths through the finance, facility management, and communications department.

Prior to her exploratory phase, Puzzle worked at the Women’s Prison Association as a Community Liaison and Case Manager. Puzzle served incarcerated women and disadvantaged families in the Brownsville and East New York area in Brooklyn, who were at risk of losing their children to the foster care system. Puzzle partnered with Maxwell H.S., where she mentored disadvantaged youth. Puzzle also helped launch and develop Working It Out (WIO) a gender-specific work readiness and employment program, which aimed to address the unique risk factors that could lead a woman to commit a crime. Puzzle is a College and Community Fellowship (CCF) Alumna, and a CUNY BA Graduate. She attended John Jay and Hunter College, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Human Rights. Puzzle also earned a Liberal Arts, Associates degree with Bard College Prison Initiative. Born in Brooklyn, Puzzle enjoys playing basketball and writing rap music.