EJUSA holds first national convening on trauma and the criminal justice system

EJUSA National trauma convening group photo

EJUSA has taken a big step toward building a national network of people impacted by trauma across the criminal justice system by hosting our first convening in mid-March.

Twenty-four leaders came together – traveling from all over the country – for two days of sharing, healing, learning, and planning. They included crime survivors, people who were formerly incarcerated, families of the incarcerated, and law enforcement. All of the participants have worked alongside EJUSA at some point: as advocates within our death penalty work, as leaders of grassroots violence intervention and survivor organizations that EJUSA supported in capacity building, or as participants in our Police-Community Trauma Program in Newark.

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Fall 2017 Police/Community Initiative on Trauma-Informed Responses to Violence – Newark, NJ

VIOLENCE word cloud graphicEJUSA is excited to continue the second round of trainings in Newark, NJ, to increase the capacity for police and the community to build mutual understanding of the other’s trauma and respond to trauma in the wake of violence. This spring, a team of facilitators will be leading trainings on trauma-informed responses to violence with the Newark Police Department and Newark community members: “Police/Community Initiative on Trauma-Informed Responses to Violence”

Read about our first series of trainings in Fall 2016 here.

The goal of this training is to understand the symptoms of community trauma and vicarious trauma as well as build necessary skills to address and problem-solve when trauma arises. These trainings will focus on community/police partnerships, and each group training will consist of the following:

  • 3 weekly sessions, 5 hours each* at Broadway House, 298 Broadway, Newark, NJ 07104.
  • Participants will include 15-20 police officers and 15-20 community members.
  • Learn about trauma symptoms, ACES, historical trauma, and the cycle of violence.
  • Hands-on skills-building and problem solving activities that will be customized for trainees on the front lines addressing violence and trauma.
  • A focus on addressing special populations, including boys/men of color, LGBT communities, girls and women, etc.

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Let’s build a world where violence is rare | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

Vice’s in-depth Charlottesville video is a horrifying look at hatredThe Boston Globe
Our country watched white nationalists descend upon Charlottesville, VA, to deliver messages of hate and bigotry. Vice’s viral 20 minute documentary, “Charlottesville: Race and Terror,” provides an on-the-ground picture of this dark historical moment: “Vice doesn’t lose track of what really happened over the weekend — the domestic terrorism, the chants of ‘Jews will not replace us,’ the police in full gear. The piece does not skimp on the horrors, including footage of the car plowing into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. We see a black woman bowing in despair and disbelief after the crash, letting out a grief-stricken scream.” EJUSA condemns white supremacy, white nationalism, and violent extremism in all forms. We are fighting to create a world in which violence is rare, and there is racial justice and healing.

Statement Opposing the President’s Comments Encouraging Use of Force Against Members of our Community, National Juvenile Justice Network
EJUSA joined with several other justice organizations to condemn President Trump’s comments to law enforcement officers late last month, in which encouraged the use of force against community members. Continue Reading →

Community-driven, trauma-informed solutions to public safety | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

Race, History, Policing: A New Vision of Public Safety Conference, National Network for Safe Communities
This video features EJUSA’s Trauma Advocacy Program Director Fatimah Loren Muhammad on a panel talking about community-driven, trauma-informed solutions to public safety. The biennial conference brought together over 300 public safety stakeholders, national organizations, academics, and community groups to talk about advancements in the field.

Blueprint for a New NewarkThe New York Times
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Newark Rebellion, in which the police killing of a black cab driver ignited a city to fight for freedom from oppression and divestment. In this op-ed piece, Ryan Haygood, President of the NJ Institute for Social Justice and a collaborator of EJUSA, highlights this historical trauma and opportunities to create new police/community relationships today. EJUSA is proud to support the Newark community in forging these new relationships. Continue Reading →

EJUSA joins in discussion about race, police, and the community in Newark

YouTube thumbnailEJUSA’s Police/Community Initiative on Trauma Informed Responses to Violence has been bringing together police officers, residents, survivors of violence, justice-involved citizens, social workers, and faith leaders to discuss the trauma that exists on both sides of the relationship between the police and community. More and more members of the Newark community are eager to participate in the groundbreaking initiative, which will begin its fifth session of trainings next month.

Trauma Advocacy Initiative Director Fatimah Loren Muhammed recently joined the mayor of Newark as well as law enforcement leaders, clergy, academics, service providers, and other community leaders on a panel discussion organized by local Newark TV host Steve Adubato. The panel looked at the complex and sometimes confrontational relationship between the police and the minority community and ways to begin to move forward. Continue Reading →

Floridians rally in support of state attorney who won’t seek the death penalty

Christine speaking - photo credit Mark Elliott

Busloads of people from all corners of Florida descended on the state capitol in Tallahassee this morning for a “Rally in Tally” to show their support for State Attorney Aramis Ayala. Ayala announced earlier this month that she will not seek the death penalty during her tenure as the head prosecutor of Orange and Osceola Counties.

Following a rally on the capitol steps, leaders delivered over 130,000 petition signatures to the office of Governor Rick Scott. Scott filed for the removal of Alaya from a high profile murder case in Orlando, overstepping his authority and undermining her discretion as a prosecutor.

Ayala is fighting back, and people throughout Florida and around the country are standing with her.
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36 hours in Orlando

Yesterday, Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced that she will not be seeking the death penalty in any cases while she remains in office.

Ayala’s office covers Orange County, which has historically been an outlier in Florida and in the country with regards to its death penalty usage. It is among just four of Florida’s 67 counties that have produced more than five executions since 1976.

Check out our storify to see how the story has unfolded in the last 36 hours.

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Recommended: New State’s Attorney in Florida wants to start CIU

Florida prosecutors have played a major role in creating an unjust criminal justice system with their ability to decide who to prosecute and what charges to file.

Several prosecutors in the state had a history of extreme overzealousness and seemed to forget the community they were elected to represent. They charged children as young as twelve as adults, sentencing them to long prison terms. They helped fill Florida’s death row with people with severe mental impairments and mental illness. And they supported a system that has allowed people of color to be treated more harshly than white people.

Newly-elected prosecutor Melissa Nelson seems to have a different plan coming into office. Nelson represents the 5th district, which includes 5 counties in the Northeast area of the state. According to a recent interview with Reason magazine, she is looking at new ways of encouraging prosecutors to seek justice, rather than just convictions. And she’s even exploring the idea of creating a Conviction Integrity Unit.

Read the full interview in Reason here.