EJUSA attended the 6th Annual Healing Justice Alliance Conference, a convening that brought together crime survivors, innovative community-based violence prevention programs, hospital-based violence reduction programs, and other criminal justice and public health partners.
EJUSA is pleased to have been a part of a number of convenings in recent months that break down silos between public health, criminal justice, violence prevention, and victimization – including our recent meeting at the White House and a presentation at the DOJ National Conference on Youth Violence Prevention. The powerful Healing Justice Alliance conference was no exception.
More and more Americans are embracing the idea that mass incarceration has failed communities most impacted by violence, particularly devastating communities of color, and that we need a new approach.
“You can feel this energy around new ways to think about violence,” said EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein, who attended the conference. “On the criminal justice reform side, EJUSA has long been advocating a new vision of justice that meets the needs of all in the wake of violence – those who are harmed, those who commit harm, and their communities. Meanwhile, a growing movement in the public health sphere has been saying that health approaches must do the same thing, and they’re developing cutting edge programs to put this vision into action. It has been such a privilege to see our worlds come together.”
The Keynote Speaker for the conference was Ben Jealous, former President of the NAACP, who powerfully asserted that these alliances will ensure that our “fight for the ecosystem of healing wins out over the ecosystem of violence.”
Baltimore Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen, closed out the conference with a rousing call to action to fight violence and racism with the same commitment that we fight heart disease and other illnesses. In medicine, she explained, you can’t tell a patient that their problem is just too complicated so we won’t even try. We must stop trying to demonstrate that we’re not racist, she continued, and start investing in changing the racist systems that got us here.
The conference hosts are Cure Violence, the National Network of Hospital-Based Violence Prevention Programs, Berkeley Media Studies Group, and Youth Alive.