Building a justice system rooted in healing

T'ruah Mass Incarceration HandbookEJUSA is thrilled to be featured in a new publication, “A Handbook for Jewish Communities Fighting Mass Incarceration,” by the Jewish human rights organization, T’ruah. The Handbook is a comprehensive guide for action from a Jewish perspective. It contains background information on various aspects of mass incarceration, from what happens when police stop people on the streets, to conditions inside jails and prisons, to the challenges people face when they leave incarceration and attempt to rebuild their lives.

Our contribution, “Building a justice system rooted in healing,” is written by EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein. It includes EJUSA’s unique perspective on crime survivors’ needs:

In our work to end the death penalty over the last 25 years, we’ve met and worked with hundreds of family members who have lost loved ones to murder. Some supported the death penalty and others opposed it. But what united them all was the devastating trauma they experienced in the wake of their unimaginable loss…

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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.

Meet the red-state conservatives fighting to abolish the death penaltyThe Washington Post
In college, Senator Colby Coash celebrated at a tailgate party outside of a prison during an execution. Now he’s part of the growing conservative movement to end the death penalty in the United States. In an in-depth article about that movement, The Washington Post interviews EJUSA staff members Heather Beaudoin and Marc Hyden, both part of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.
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Event: Veterans on Death Row

NYC BarTuesday, May 24, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm NYC Bar Association, 42 West 44th St, NYC

Sponsored by the New York City Bar Association’s Committees on Capital Punishment and the Military Affairs & Justice

Although it is difficult to determine a precise number, it is estimated that approximately ten percent of the America’s 3000 Death Row inmates are veterans. This program will explore the pathology of the condemned veteran population. In particular, the mental health implications of military service and combat will be examined in in light of Supreme Court precedents such as Porter v. McCollum. Among the issues to be discussed will be the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and military culture. The panel will also reflect upon what factors should be considered in determining the appropriate sentence for veterans convicted of capital crimes.

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Increasing access to help for crime survivors – where it’s most needed

honoring victimsThis week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The theme this year is Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope., which highlights the need for early intervention and victims services that build trust with crime survivors, and creates hope that healing is possible.

We’ve been working with crime survivors for over 10 years. And what we’ve learned from them over and over again is that these services – and a commitment to healing – remain out of reach for the vast majority of them.

Crime survivors aren’t getting the help they need

The numbers agree – estimates are that more than 90% of crime survivors don’t access any victims services. You read that right: 90% of the people in the U.S. who’ve been hurt, robbed, shot, assaulted, abused, raped, or had a family member murdered got no formal help to process their trauma, cope with their grief, or rebuild their lives in even practical ways.

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Violence & crime victims’ trauma are a public health issue: A new message for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

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.”

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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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Health Approaches to Healing Violence: Hospital-Based Programs

Emergency RoomViolence is a public health issue. But few know that there is a small, but significant expansion of health initiatives across the country that are addressing the needs of survivors of crime, violence, and trauma, in the wake of community violence – and helping to actually decrease crime.

Philadelphia, a pioneer in trauma-informed models of care, has a larger-than-life team of researchers, medical doctors, and other practitioners that have developed programs and initiatives that have transformed the ways in which the health system can work along with the justice system to heal violence.

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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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Trust Not Trauma – Policing and Public Health

Trust Not TraumaAn important new report looks at the relationship between policing practices and public health. Stress on the Streets (SOS): Race, Policing, Health, and Increasing Trust, not Trauma, released last month by Human Impact Partners, the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative analyzed police practices in two cities – Cincinnati and Akron.

“The tension and distrust between people of color and police in the United States is an underestimated public health crisis,” the report opens. “Shocking cases of mistreatment, injury, and death grab headlines and go viral on social media, but the mental, emotional, and behavioral impacts of this fraught relationship affect communities of color and police officers in ways less often discussed.” Continue Reading →

Recommended: New resource for how to support someone harmed by crime & violence

help.hope.healThe Partnership for Safety and Justice, a criminal justice reform organization in Oregon, just launched a new website, Help.Hope.Heal, for people whose friends or family members have been harmed by crime or violence. The website includes advice and resources to help you learn what to say and do to support your friend and yourself, so that you can be the best caregiver you can be. The site is beautiful and inviting.