For many of us who advocate for criminal justice, juvenile justice and prison reform, the battle has been long and unending. We have met with lawmakers, approached medical experts, spoken with judges, prison officials and gathered as much information as possible. There are hundreds of strong reports published over the last ten years that present evidence that our current policies and practices do not work.
But we don't have to read reports, we don't have to listen to the testimony of experts and we don't have to look to our lawmakers for guidance. We just need to look in our own back yards. We can see the devastation that violence, incarceration and prison conditions produces. We can see the impact on families, neighborhoods, communities, states and this nation. We can look around and see the need for change but we are not sure how to go about it.
Our "War On Drugs" and "Tough On Crime" policies have not stopped mass murder. These policies have not stopped gang related violence. These policies have not lessened the incidence of addiction or the impact of addiction on our communities. These policies have not worked.
What will? A return to humanity. A return to caring for and finding healing for those among us who have mental illness, addiction problems, whose lives have been plagued with abuse, neglect and violence. We have to decide we want to heal. We have to decide that brokenness and disease are not acceptable and find a way to bring comfort and healing.
We have built huge prison complexes to house those who are broken, sick and misguided. We spend billions of dollars on locking away PEOPLE who need help in finding their way and success in our communities. We have taken rehabilitation, treatment, education and life skills training out of our prisons and leave PEOPLE to rot away in cement cells. We have failed to address restoration, re-payment for harm done and healing for victims through sincere apologies, counseling and support. We have taken away everything that works to restore human lives and communities.
The person who breaks a law or commits a crime has a PROBLEM. Our first concern should be to address the problem of that individual so that they may make reparations for the harm they have done. That is actually a biblical and spiritual principal. We need better mental health care and treatment facilities for the mentally ill. We need to better educate and train our youth so that they realize there is a world outside "The hood" where they can become successful. We need to support families dealing with addiction and provide addiction treatment. We need to address family violence so that violence is not a way of life. We need accountability for our brothers and our brothers need to be accountable. In other words we need to care because every brother that is hurting effects our health and the health of our communities.
It has been a long road and I must say that in the beginning I was seen as a bleeding heart for a hopeless cause. I am happy to say that is no longer the case. A LONG list of support has come out in favor of prison and justice reform. Many of them may surprise you although if you think about it....it shouldn't. They clearly see the impact on their families, their people and their neighborhoods. In this article posted by Prison Fellowship and Justice Fellowship, there is a CALL TO ACTION directed at the Christian community.
Even more powerful is this open letter to President Obama from advocates that state they are ready to support policy changes and conditions of confinement and treatment for offenders. This list includes people like Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Q-Tip, Sean "Diddy" Combs, the Kardashians, Eva Longoria, Demi Moore, Susan Sorandon, Chris Rocke and such spiritual leaders as Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin, Depak Chopra and Rev. Michale McBride. The list of supporters includes lawmakers, actors, musicians, religious leaders, fashion leaders and more. They have joined together as a coalition of advocates to speak for change in our justice system and the prison industrial complex.
Rappers, Stars Ask Obama to Ease Drug Policy, Reform Prisons
We know that our current policies and practices DON"T work. We know that we are not doing the right thing by our brother. We are tired of poor, broken and hurting communities. So isn't it time for change? Join the many voices, educate yourself and bring a change for health and humanity to YOUR COMMUNITY!
There are many education tools on our web site FreeJonny as well as The Sentencing Project, The Pendulum Foundation and The Campaign For The Fair Sentencing Of Youth.
We are also happy to speak to your church, club or organization concerning prison reform policies, justice reform and juvenile justice reform Contact Us and we can get started.
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