Criminal Justice Reform Right Now!

MON, DEC 4, 2017 (1:39:32)

The United States leads the world in the rate of incarceration - the number of people in prisons in the US has more than quadrupled over the last forty years. Racial disparities are a hallmark of incarceration today, families are torn apart, and communities disrupted by the school to prison pipeline. The opportunities for education and true rehabilitation for those returning to their communities are few and far between. The Massachusetts legislature is creating reform for our state right at this moment. Hear from four Lenny Zakim Fund grantees who are working for that reform.

Related Links

Families for Justice as Healing
Partakers
Our Restorative Justice
The Sentencing Project

Books mentioned

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Justice as Healing by Wanda D. McCaslin

Articles & Interviews

The Marshall Project’s discussion on language
The New Yorker’s “Baby Doe”
President Obama’s Letter to Jessica Dean
Jill Lapore's interview regarding her piece in The New Yorker with WGBH News
Janet Connors, whose son was stabbed in the heart. Reconciliation. Circles (audio used with permission of the filmmaker.)

Image: Alfano Communications (Labeled for non-commercial reuse)

+ BIO: Judge Jay D. Blitzman

Jay D. Blitzman is the first justice for the Middlesex Juvenile Court in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Prior to his judicial appointment, Judge Blitzman was a founder and the first director of the Roxbury Youth Advocacy Project, a community based interdisciplinary public defenders unit which created the basis for the development of a statewide department. Jay also co-founded Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ). Since becoming a judge, he has continued to present and write on a wide range of juvenile justice and child welfare issues. He is a co-founder of Our RJ, formerly known as the Juvenile Court Restorative Justice Diversion program, and serves on that group's advisory committee.

+ BIO: Arthur Bembury

Arthur Bembury has been associated with Partakers for more than 15 years, first as a student in the Boston University PEP program, and subsequently as an employee. His business and prison experience make him uniquely qualified to interact with Massachusetts correctional institutions, the Boston University Prison Education Program and our more than 300 Partakers mentors. Arthur is the co-founder of several residential treatment facilities for disadvantaged youths in Southern California and has an extensive history in commercial and residential real estate. His experience with the challenges facing marginalized populations drives his ambition to find practical and innovative solutions to reducing recidivism, changing lives, and strengthening communities. Arthur serves on the Board of Directors of The Criminal Justice Policy Coalition, is an Honorary Board Member with UU Mass Action, and is on the Advisory Board of The Petey Green Program. Arthur is a graduate of Boston University's Questrom School of Business Non-Profit Management and Leadership Program.

+ BIO: Andrea James

Andrea James is the Founder of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, Founder and Executive Director of Families for Justice as Healing, the author of Upper Bunkies Unite: And Other Thoughts On the Politics of Mass Incarceration, a 2015 Soros Justice Fellow and a 2016 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights award recipient. Andrea worked within the criminal justice system for more than 25 years and is a former criminal defense attorney. In 2009 she was sentenced to serve a 24-month federal prison sentence. After a lifetime of work seeking justice on behalf of disenfranchised people, she was stunned at what she encountered upon entering the federal prison system as an incarcerated person and uses her experience to raise awareness of the effect of incarceration on women, children, and communities, and to shift from a criminal legal system to a system focusing on human justice.

+ BIO: Susan Maze-Rothstein

Susan Maze-Rothstein is a founding member of Our Restorative Justice and a professor at Northeastern University School of Law where she directs the Legal Skills in Social Context Program, its signature social justice course. During her two decades of work in that program, she has led nearly 100 students to complete over 12,000 hours of research on restorative justice, school discipline and juvenile court diversionary alternatives. She also co-chairs the Boston Public Schools, Code of Conduct Advisory Council subcommittee, which in September 2013, 2014 and in 2015 persuaded the district's school committee (the largest in the Commonwealth) to revise its Code of Conduct, responsive to a 2012 school discipline legislation and to include restorative justice practices and other alternatives as a requirement before suspension or expulsion. Professor Maze-Rothstein also co-chairs the Massachusetts Restorative Justice Coalition policy committee where she has been instrumental in crafting legislative language to expand restorative justice work throughout the Commonwealth.

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The Lenny Zakim Fund