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.

Recommended Reading

News Bytes: the Obamas’ and former AG Eric Holder’s soon-to-be published books

FYI: My podcast, “One Mother’s Voice: In the Name of Justice,”  ( and Sound Cloud) will resume posting episodes in January 2018 with enhanced content, better production quality, and revamped formatting. In addition, I hope to feature guest interviewees (e.g. social justice advocates/activists) and enable listener call-ins. Until then, I will post criminal news, events, updates at this site. Stay tuned.

News Bytes

2018 pub dates for Obamas’ and AG’ Holders books 

Two books on my “most-anticipated” list are forthcoming from former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The couple signed book deals with Penguin Random House for a combined total of $65 million dollars. I eagerly await behind-the-scene stories about their years in the WH; however, I am most interested in their experiences as the first black president and first lady. Frankly, I want to hear about all the stuff that didn’t make the news!

The Obamas will donate 1 million books to First Book, a Penguin Random House non-profit partner and Open ebooks.

Barack Obama has two previous best-sellers, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope.

Another much-anticipated book is Pursuing Justice by Eric Holder, the nation’s first African-American attorney general, who served under the Obama Administration from 2008 until his resignation in 2015. His personal and political memoir will recount his immigrant roots–his father was born in Barbados–and his strong advocacy for criminal justice reform. Holder will work on the book with journalist Douglas Blackmon, who won a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for his book, Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to WWII.

In November 2017, Politico wrote:

“The keenly legacy-conscious Holder has never been in better standing, leaving on arguably the highest personal note of his tenure, after a year of progress on his plan to reform sentencing laws and just after his well-received, calming-the-waters trip to Ferguson, Missouri, during the riots in August.”

Of course, Holder had detractors who opposed the Justice Department’s use of subpoenas and search warrants “for phone records and other information of journalists involved in reports about leaked classified information…” as reported in 2013 by CNN Politics online.

It is these contradictions that make Holder’s story all the more complex and read-worthy.



Upcoming Event

New museum highlights our nation’s history from enslavement to mass incarceration

As an ardent proponent of criminal justice reform, it is a happy coincidence that my birth month coincides with the April 2018 opening of an historic museum in Montgomery, Alabama, The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. The impetus for my advocacy grew out of the nearly 16-year incarceration of my son–now deceased—and its painful and lingering effects on him and my family.

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), under founder and Executive Director Bryan Stevenson (winner of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Prize, the National Medal of Liberty, the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award, and countless other commendations), created the museum to highlight America’s long journey from slavery and segregation to mass incarceration and excessive punishment.

According to the EJI:

“This museum is designed to change the way we think about race in America. The United States has done very little to acknowledge the legacy of genocide of Native Americans, enslavement of black people, lynching, and racial segregation. As a result, racial disparities continue to burden people of color; the criminal justice system is infected with racial bias; and a presumption of dangerousness and guilt has led to mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and police violence against young people of color.”

The site of the museum is a former slave warehouse, “where tens of thousands of enslaved people were trafficked at the height of the domestic slave trade.” It will re-create of a former slave house, follow ten generations of enslaved people and their descendants, and feature interactive and virtual reality exhibits. Many artists, performers, musicians and filmmakers have contributed their creative talents to the museum.

Without a doubt, a visit to The Legacy museum is Number One on my newly-created Bucket List.