On Friday, October 16th the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Criminal Justice and Human Rights Professional Interest Councils (PICs) were honored to host JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) founder Glenn Martin, and three JLUSA Fellows, Galen Baughman, Khalil Cumberbatch, and Teresa Hodge for a discussion at HKS about their experiences with the criminal justice system and strategies for reform. JLUSA’s mission is to cut the prison population in half by 2030 while reducing violence. They empower formerly incarcerated people, those closest to the problem and to solutions, to drive policy change.
Each of the fellows started the conversation by sharing their individual stories of interaction with the justice system, focusing on the frightening realities of prosecutor misconduct and overaggressive sentencing, the intersection of the immigration and criminal justice systems, solitary confinement, and the possibility of facing civil commitment after sentence completion. The group also discussed the lack of evidence behind sex offender policies and perceptions in the United States.
Our JLUSA guests offered students and attendees several ways that they, as people who have not interacted with the criminal justice system firsthand, can empower those who have. They encouraged students to be aware of their privilege, but also to use their positions of power and credibility in society to spread knowledge about the abuses of the criminal justice system, specifically through social media. They stressed the crucial need to seek out the often-unheard voices of those in the system and how this can be used to change public perception.
The conversation concluded with a discussion of the “better answers” than incarceration that exist for society. “Prison doesn’t help anyone,” concluded one of the fellows.
For more information on JLUSA’s important work and the guests at this event, please visit the JLUSA website.
About this Series
The Criminal Justice Lunchtime Talk series is co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice PIC, the Kennedy School Student Government (KSSG), and the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)