10 ideas from local leaders that might move criminal justice reform forward - Generocity Philly

People

Jul. 28, 2016 11:32 am

10 ideas from local leaders that might move criminal justice reform forward

Five local leaders (and then some) got together to talk about how we should start rethinking what crime and punishment should look like at a DNC event hosted by The Atlantic.

The Atlantic hosted a forum on criminal justice reform for the DNC.

(Photo by Tony Abraham)

After decades of bolstering a criminal justice system that perpetuates mass incarceration, recidivism and socioeconomic disparity, politicians on both sides of the aisle are beginning to call for reform.

In Philadelphia, a recent $3.5 million MacArthur Foundation grant aims to reduce the city’s staggeringly high prison population by 34 percent. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth is pursuing an innovative new funding strategy to cut recidivism rates while protecting taxpayers’ coinpurses.

Local leaders are determined to find a solution, and at a recent panel hosted by MacArthur and The Atlantic during the Democratic National Convention, officials and advocates spoke up about what needs to happen to move criminal justice reform forward, including:

  • Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney
  • Pa. Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel
  • Defender Association of Philadelphia Chief Defender Keir Bradford-Grey
  • Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams
  • Redeemed founder William Cobb

Here are 10 ideas, insights and opinions from those folks about what’s wrong with the current system and how they’re hoping to move the needle forward in reforming crime and punishment.

1. “Four decades of bad criminal justice policy have gotten us a bloated system with no return on investment. Is it a good investment to invest $2.4 billion in a state department of corrections when we know that low-level individuals who come into state prison come out more likely to commit a crime? That makes absolutely no sense.” — Wetzel
2. “Education is a root cause. Fifty percent of everybody who comes into state prison doesn’t have a high school diploma. So don’t be surprised if you have a terrible education system that people are getting locked up.” — Wetzel
3. “We’re locking these guys up for selling drugs on the street corner. The largest drug dealers in the world are pharmaceutical companies.” — Kenney
4. “We decriminalized marijuana to keep 83 percent of people being arrested for possession who are African American or people of color. If you want to arrest a lot of people for smoking marijuana, go to the Eagles tailgate on a Sunday and arrest all the New Jersey suburbanites you want. I’m not judging them, they can do whatever they want. You can’t do an illegal pedestrian stop on a 20-year-old black kid who happens to have a joint in his pocket and he ends up getting locked up in handcuffs.” — Kenney
5. “If I’m a rich guy who sexually assaults someone and you’re a poor guy who steals a six pack of tighty-whities from Walmart, if your bail is $50 and my bail is $5 million and I have $5 million so I’m getting out but you don’t have $50 you’re staying in? That’s not about public safety. That’s about money.” — Wetzel
6. “It’s not the severity of punishment that changes behavior. It’s the certainty. My job, I believe, is this new paradigm of American prosecutors, to do all we can to prevent crime and to do all we can to reduce recidivism so people don’t get arrested over and over and over again. If you want to help me prevent crime, invest in early childhood education.” — Williams
7. “One of the things we’ll need for true reform to happen is a psychological reform. We’re going to have to change the narrative of what public safety is. Public safety shouldn’t just be echoed through law enforcement but echoed through needs identifications.” — Bradford-Grey
8. “I would love to see the ability for us to say, ‘We don’t need to have law enforcement in these areas, maybe we need to take that money and invest it in school therapists, school officers, therapeutic needs and healthcare professionals that can really address some of the underlying issues that are making people have this cyclical type of result.'” — Bradford-Grey
9. “Policy actually ends up driving culture after it’s been in place for a significant amount of time. We have to have policies and legislation in place that protect people that have been in conflict with the criminal justice system. Political will will change when people who have been adversely affected by the criminal justice system are voting based upon their values. We have to identify individuals who will put forward our platform.” — Cobb
10. “A felony conviction is an economic death sentence.” — Williams

Watch the whole panel below.

From our Partners

-30-
LEAVE A COMMENT

From our Partners

Power Moves: City Hall shakeups, nonprofit departures and a new poet laureate

Arun Prabhakaran signed on as Krasner’s chief of staff after touring MLK’s hometown

It’s time for Philly to invest in Philly

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

For immigrants, civic engagement is essential to success

100 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19110

Women Against Abuse

Domestic Violence Hotline & Intake Services Manager

Apply Now
1330 N. 5th Street,Philadelphia, PA 19122

http://www.bicycletransit.com/

Brand Ambassador

Apply Now

‘Nonprofits need to rally quickly’ to stave off the worst effects of the new tax law

SERVE Philadelphia wants to log 100,000 hours of volunteer service in 2018

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

This Philly Venezuelan wants to encourage ‘participation, not isolation’ among immigrants

Philadelphia, PA

Knight Foundation

Summer of 2018 Paid Internship at Knight Foundation

Apply Now
4355 Orchard Street, Philadelphia, PA 19124

Rebuilding Together Philadelphia

Development Director

Apply Now
Philadelphia

William Penn Foundation

Program Associate, Creative Communities

Apply Now

Sign-up for regular updates from Generocity