Criminal and social justice movements: alive and well

This is an updated commentary, originally a segment of “One Mother’s Voice” podcast (re-named “One Mother’s Voice: In the Name of Justice”) for April 3, 2017

 Despite having a president in the White House, who has rolled back efforts to address climate change, to de-regulate certain industries, and to stop the construction of an oil pipeline through Nebraska, the outlook for criminal and social justice reform remains positive.

In fact, legislators, chiefs of police, formerly incarcerated persons, and prisoner advocacy organizations continue to move forward in efforts to shine a light on the injustices, and often horrific acts, against those in prison; to eliminate mass incarceration; to dismantle laws that foster the disenfranchisement of parolees; and to assist families affected by incarceration, especially children.

Some examples:

  • In Missouri, the Justice Reinvestment Taskforce, established by Gov. Eric Greitens, met to discuss criminal justice reform and explore strategies to address the state’s incarceration growth. The Taskforce is expected to publish the report by the end of 2017.
  • San Diego Superior Judge Lisa Rodriguez said (a) pretrial detention working group heard from over 40 representatives from all over the justice spectrum, including the bail industry, and the message was unanimous that California’s bail system… needs drastic reform.
  • A major reduction has taken place in the number of teenagers committed to juvenile facilities…(a)t a time of increasing calls to cut the number of incarcerated adults by 50 percent over 10 years, the juvenile justice system has already attained this goal.

I urge my primary audience– mothers with sons in prison– to join the movement. Take an active role in monitoring the treatment of your son, know what community resources are available to you, and most important, do not remain silent or ashamed.

Political action is the best antidote to feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, or powerless.

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