Apply public health values to a broken criminal justice system
Contact: Jon Crane Phone/Email 203-982-4575
Sunday April 10th will mark the start of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 10-16) and this year’s theme – Serving Victims, Building Trust, Restoring Hope – is intended to highlight the need for victims services that will promote trust, healing, and recovery.
But for too many crime survivors, those services and ideals remain out of reach. Equal Justice USA, a national organization working to transform the justice system to one that heals and restores lives, recently launched a new initiative aimed at addressing the trauma of crime survivors, particularly in communities of color where there has been disparate access to resources.
“Our goal is to move towards a justice system that can actually promote health, rehabilitation, and healing,” said Fatimah Loren Muhammad, Director of EJUSA’s Trauma Initiative. “We are working to develop a justice system that operates according to public health values of prevention, harm reduction, and trauma-informed care.”
After years of work assisting murder victims’ family members during its death penalty repeal campaigns, EJUSA recognized the need for a justice system that more pro-actively meets the needs of those harmed by crime. Its Trauma Advocacy Initiative is strengthening ties between public health and the justice system through innovative projects on the municipal level.
“Families like mine and those I work with desperately need help rebuilding our lives,” said Lisa Good, victim advocate and EJUSA Board Member. “After going to so many funerals in my community, I searched for resources for crime survivors in urban areas. I was told, ‘What’s the big deal? They’re used to it.’ This attitude is just one example of the system inflicting more pain on us, dismissing our trauma instead of healing it.”
Lisa Good is part of a growing EJUSA crime survivor network that is calling for a justice system that keeps communities safe, helps crime victims rebuild their lives after they’ve been harmed, and holds people accountable in ways that are constructive and forward-looking.
Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) is a national organization that works to make the justice system more fair, effective, and responsive by ending the death penalty, strengthening programs that help crime survivors address trauma and rebuild their lives, promoting constructive responses to violence, and enacting common sense criminal justice reforms.