LexInsight Blog

Elections and Compassion to achieve Criminal Justice Reform

Jul 17, 2018 4:00:00 AM / by C.L.Johnson

Achieve-criminal-justice

Recent events such as the arrest and imprisonment of high profile Individual such as Rapper Meek Mill, has shined a bright light on a fight that has been raging for years in non-profit offices small and large around the country alike. A fight for Criminal Justice reform, in a recent interview which aired on NBC, Billionaire businessman and Philadelphia 76ers owner Michael Rubin, said he was shocked to learn that there are two criminal justice systems, and one that disproportionately affects poor and vulnerable communities. Rubin and a list of A-list celebrities have embarked on the journey of reform, providing a platform and access to this cause that normally is not afforded such limelight, but it is this the correct way to achieve criminal Justice reform? From White house Adviser and Son-in law of the President Jared Kushner to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and The Compassionate Senator Corey Booker all have a different view of how best to achieve Criminal Justice reform. The current piecemeal approach makes reform seems impossible and the approach tattered, however there is a path forward, and takes a combination of each of these ideology it mashes them together to create a hog posh that is the solution. To get there it will take ending mass incarceration through seeking alternatives to incarceration, fixing our bail system, lowering recidivism rates and electing progressive prosecutor. As election season and primaries rage across the country I think it would be most appropriate to start with electing progressive prosecutors

As a child, May in North Carolina meant hot summers on the beach, after spending several years working on campaigns, May took on a new meaning, grueling election campaigning and hot long days of door knocking. This year was no different as the temperatures heated up so was the campaigning in Durham North Carolina, Home of the NCCU Eagles, Farris Dixon a middle age 25 yr attorney just won the Primary for Pitt County District Attorney, as with 65% of all District Attorney races across the Country, Dixon is running unopposed and on November 3rd, 2018 he will be named Pitt County District Attorney. Why is this important to Criminal Justice reform? Dixon victory was helped in large part by Color of Change Political Action Committee an organization committed to electing progressive prosecutors whom better represent the community they serve. It is often overlooked, especially during midterm elections but Prosecutors have an enormous impact on Black communities. They hold the power to decide rather to prosecute or not and to as to how serve the punishment. The importance of electing the right Prosecutor is on full display in Pitt County. Black people, who make up only 35.3 percent of Pitt County’s population, made up 79.7 percent of the people in jail in 2014.  (1, 2) ‘Tough on crime’ legislation will never protect Black people, especially when 95% of all elected District Attorneys are white in the United States. (3, 4) The First major hurdle to reform is informing people of importance of local elections, and choosing progressive candidates committed to change. Secondly getting a better racial representation of all races as elected District Attorneys. Lastly, The district Attorneys Elected today have to be mindful of their duty of justice and understand that justice does not always comes in convictions and prison time. One organization that has taken the lead in this is, Fair and Just Prosecution an organization that brings together newly elected local prosecutors as part of a network of leaders committed to promoting a Justice system grounded in fairness, equity, compassion and fiscal responsibility. (5)Organizations like Fair and Just Prosecution and Color of change PAC are pivotal in what I believe is the most important part of Criminal justice reform. Electing progressive prosecutors and Bring together those newly elected officials to training them on the idea of compassion in there prosecutions. 

References

  1. “Pitt County, North Carolina”, U.S. Census Bureau, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/pittcountynorthcarolina/PST045217
  2. “Pitt County, NC”, Vera Institute of Justice, http://trends.vera.org/rates/pitt-county-nc?incarcerationData=all
  3. “Justice For All?”, The Reflective Democracy Campaign, http://wholeads.us/justice/
  4. Color of Change  https://votingwhileblack.com/pitt/
  5. https://fairandjustprosecution.org/about-fjp/our-work-and-vision/

Topics: Law

C.L.Johnson

Written by C.L.Johnson

Craig is a J.D., a father and husband in Birmingham, Alabama