Originally posted on The Nation In December 2008, as I was starting the final year of a 12-year sentence in a New York state prison, the African American Organization, led by prisoners in Otisville Correctional Facility, put together its annual Kwanzaa celebration. During the seven days of Kwanzaa men from the prison would gather in a classroom and observe each day’s principle. Every night for about three hours, we would listen to prepared speeches from our peers that explore
Originally Posted on The Crime Report Many people today have climbed on the bandwagon for criminal justice reform. But what does “reform” actually mean? As we come to the end of Black History month, I’d like to pose some hard questions to those who now call themselves reformers. First, how do you define reform? Do you support those who believe the way to end mass incarceration is by reducing the sentences only of those convicted of non-violent drug offenses—or release them?
Three months ago I moderated a panel at Brooklyn Borough Hall where over 150 boys from Brownsville, Brooklyn, ages 12–18, followed by a dialogue about policing in their communities. A 13-year old boy stood up to ask the audience a question –that he seemed to be intensely asking himself: “Why are the there so much police in my neighborhood? Why are they always bothering people? I just don’t understand. It don’t make sense. Why it gotta be like this?” He was only 13-years old,