Reimagining Justice This Month | Feb 2017

Our current criminal justice system harms millions of people – from crime survivors to the justice-involved and their families.

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights communities that are organizing for effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

“When Killer and Victim’s Mother Meet, Paths From Grief, Fear and Guilt Emerge,” The New York Times
A restorative justice program in Kansas brings together people whose lives are inextricably linked violence and death. Through “victim-offender dialogues,” those who commit harm come face-to-face with those who were harmed.

Gun Violence Should Be Treated As A Public Health Crisis, Study Says,” NPR
The study helps show that “there must be a more coordinated approach to drive gun violence down, one that treats it as a public health epidemic and not just a policing problem.” Continue Reading →

Recommended this week

“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.

Three States to Watch if You Care About the Death PenaltyThe Marshall Project
Voters in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and California will face death penalty questions at the polls. The Marshall Project looks at what’s on the ballot in each of the states and what is at stake.

Baltimore Is Attacking the Roots of Violence with Public Health Measures—and Saving LivesScientific America
Violence is contagious and can spread from person to person, just like a disease. The Baltimore City Health Department is bringing down violence in some of Baltimore’s highest violence neighborhoods using a public health approach.

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In memory of murder victims, set new priorities for action

Dorothy & ShariIt is more urgent than ever that we honor victims of violence by responding with healing, racial equality, and prevention. That was the message in an op-ed by EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein and Dorothy Johnson-Speight from Mothers in Charge, published this week in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

To commemorate the National Day of Remembrance for Murder victims, Shari and Dorothy joined together to call for a new approach to addressing violence – one that recognizes that violence and homicide are a public-health crisis that needs a public-health solution, and that solution must be rooted in racial equity.

Homicide is the leading cause of death for African American males ages 15 to 34. For too long, the response to this crisis has been aggressive policing and incarceration. But mass incarceration, traumatizing police interactions, and a lack of care and support for people who experience violence have all worked to further devastate low-income black communities.

More and more policymakers, public-health officials, and law enforcement officials are coming to realize that we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. Yet the public dollars spent on violence prevention and survivor support are dwarfed many times over by the billions of dollars spent on corrections. The survivor support that does exist is far below the need, and it rarely gets to communities of color, even though they experience the highest rates of homicide and gun violence.

If we’re serious about building safe and healthy communities – and rebuilding communities most impacted by violence – our public dollars must reflect a different set of priorities.

Read the full op-ed here.

On National Day of Remembrance, communities call for an end to the violence

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Parents for Peace and Justice, a Chicago-based community violence prevent group, participates in the press conferences for National Day of Remembrance. Photo credit: Robert Torres

Community violence prevention groups from around the country gathered yesterday for National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. EJUSA’s longtime partner, Mothers In Charge, and its affiliates and coalition partners held press conferences to honor their loved ones and to renew their call for investment in public health approaches to violence prevention.

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Crime survivors and supporters demand change

National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims is an opportunity to invest in public health approaches to violence

EJUSA supports Mothers in Charge national action on Sept 22

Statement by Shari Silberstein, Executive Director

“Every year there are more than 14,000 people murdered in America. Countless grieving parents, brothers, sisters, children, and other loved ones are left behind to pick up the pieces of their lives. And young men of color are the most likely to be victims of this public health crisis.

“It’s time to commit to a new path forward. We need trauma-informed responses to violence that save lives, rebuild communities, and prevent future violence. We need to understand the pain in communities of color built up over generations of racism, violence, and poverty, and ensure that responses to violence help instead of harm. We need to stand up as a nation to honor those killed by taking care of those left behind.

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Recommended this week

“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.

Execution drop makes some think death penalty is fading awayAssociated Press
The end is near. Executions are on track to hit a 25-year low in 2016.

Colorado Rep Don Pabon on John Fugelsang’s ‘Tell Me Everything’, Sirius XM via YouTube
The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) recently passed a resolution in favor of repealing the death penalty. With the help of Equal Justice USA, they studied the issue and came to the conclusion that the system is broken beyond repair and must be ended. Colorado State Representative Dan Pabon joins John Fugelsang on Sirius XM’s “Tell Me Everything” to talk about the resolution and NHCSL’s commitment to ending the death penalty in the U.S.

Meet The Ex-Gang Members From Chicago, Baltimore Trying to Keep Blood Off The StreetsThe Real News on YouTube
A video primer on the Cure Violence model to prevent harm and treat violence like a public health epidemic.
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Healing Justice 2016

Ben Jealous at Healing Justice 2016EJUSA 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.

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Building the movement to disrupt the cycle of violence

Fatimah giving workshopShortly after last month’s tragic mass shooting in Orlando, the American Medical Association declared gun violence a public health issue.

EJUSA believes that this powerful frame applies to all violence. Public health models prioritize prevention, harm reduction, as well as trauma treatment. By completely changing the narrative on violence, its causes, and its solutions, we believe we will truly transform the justice system.

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Expanding partnerships between public health and justice transformation

public health and justice EJUSA recently secured its first-ever partnership with a health foundation – signaling a new leap forward in efforts to link public health and criminal justice.

There has been a lot of national discussion about the need to treat violence as a public health issue, or to use a public health approach to justice reform. But what does that mean, exactly? And how to translate that important dialogue into action?

EJUSA, with the generous support of the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey (HFNJ), will explore those questions in a new pilot program on trauma in Newark, New Jersey. HFNJ is a foundation dedicated to reducing disparities in healthcare in Newark. This investment in justice system transformation represents an exciting new area of commitment for the foundation.
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EJUSA joins new national dialog on public health and criminal justice

Fatimah Loren Muhammad

There is a growing interest in reimagining the relationship between the public health and the justice systems. Our coverage of the new report, “Stress on the Streets (SOS): Race, Policing, Health, and Increasing Trust, not Trauma,” last month highlighted innovative ways that public health and criminal justice reform organizations are collaborating to do just that.

Another example is a new collaborative organized in part by one of the report’s authors, Human Impact Partners. They worked together with the Vera Institute of Justice to organize the Criminal Justice and Public Health National Convening last November (with support from the Ford Foundation and Open Philanthropy), which I attended.

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