A "Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond: A New Paradigm for Public Safety" Released

“It is time for bold ideas. It is time to achieve the change we desperately need: a fundamental transformation and reorientation of the criminal-legal system” –The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

This September, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Civil Rights Corps. Put out a new platform paper “Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond: A New Paradigm for Public Safety.” The platform calls upon us to address the root causes leading to our high rates of incarceration and the denial of equal rights to millions. By recognizing that the history of our criminal justice system is rooted in racial and economic oppression from slavery, the black codes, convict leasing, Jim Crow laws to the war on drugs, the platform lays out a vision for public safety that is grounded in human rights and upholds the humanity and dignity of all people. The platform is divided into three parts with 14 “planks” calling for change:

  1. Ensure Equity and Accountability in the Criminal-Legal System

1-Create a new paradigm for public safety and policing. 2-Create a new framework for pretrial justice. 3-Ensure an effective right to counsel. 4-Decriminalize poverty. 5-Ensure accountability and transparency in prosecution.

  1.  Build a Restorative System of Justice      

6-End jails and prisons as we know them in America. 7-Deprivatize justice. 8-Dramatically reform sentencing policy. 9-Support the children of incarcerated parents. 10- Ease legal challenges to address racial inequity and abolish slavery in prisons.

  1.   Rebuild Communities

11-Rebalance spending priorities by investing in communities. 12-Reimagine reentry, probation and parole. 13-Build a school-to-opportunity pipeline. 14-End the War on Drugs.

            Justice Strategies is one of 115 signatories of the platform and greatly supports the inclusion of Plank #9, “Support for Children of Incarcerated Parents” as part of the call for building a restorative system of justice. Children of incarcerated parents issues are often missing from larger calls for reform, despite the reality that as the paper states, 1 in 28 children has an incarcerated parent, 20% of these kids re under age of four, and around 5 million have had an incarcerated parent in the past. 

            The platform calls for many of the policy changes that Justice Strategies has been supporting on both a state and federal level, including alternative sentencing options and family impact statements (a.k.a family responsibility statements). The strategies are both a vision and in some states they are a reality of how by centering the needs of families, we can do criminal justice in a more restorative manner. Alternative Sentencing is providing life changing results for families in WashingtonOregon, and most recently in Tennessee. Family impact statements are making their way into practice New York and hopefully in Maryland. California has adopted a Bill of Rights for Children of the IncarceratedWashington State and New York have substantially amended Federal the Adoption and Safe Families Act to prevent the separation of families. But as we know, it often takes a combination of all of these measures and one fix will not be sufficient. Further, there’s always more work to be done to reduce the stigma and raise the voices of families directly impacted alongside of any policy efforts. The following list is truly a step towards a Vision for Justice for children that Justice Strategies can stand by:

 

  • Replace or substantially amend the Adoption and Safe Families Act to ensure that adoption policies maximize preservation of the parent-child bond, including for parents who are or were recently incarcerated.

 

  • Require that, when sentencing parents, judges consider noncustodial and community-based sentences first, and then justify any decision not to use such sentences.

 

  • Require family impact statements for sentencing-related and prison-related bills.

 

  • Codify the right to in-person, contact visits and substantially improve the visiting experience through innovative, people-centered changes to visiting facilities, procedures, and programming.

 

  • Enact legislation that would require judges to consider placing or transferring incarcerated parents to prisons that are closer to where their children and families live, so as to support maintenance of the parent-child bond.

 

  • Give kids the right to transition services and provide them with reunification planning, which helps stabilize families immediately following parental incarceration. Such services should include assignment of a case worker — with a caseload that allows for meaningful engagement and attention — who can help kids navigate the system and access resources.

 

  • Allow and openly encourage the Bureau of Prisons to let people serve the last 12 months of their sentences at home in order to preserve and strengthen relationships with their children.

 

 

R.B.H.

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Monthly Feature

Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People's Movement Western Regional Conference

Convened by All of Us or None & Legal Services for Prisoners with Children

Sunday, September 20th & Monday, September 21st

Formerly incarcerated and convicted people, family members, community and spiritual leaders, elected officials and government employees will all come together to strengthen our relationships and work towards making change through community empowerment. We invite you to Voice your opinion, learn your rights and learn what changes we can make together. All of Us or None Contact: (415)-255-7036 ext. 337 www.prisonerswithchildren.org

FREE REGISTRATION: eventbrite.com