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By the time a person reaches a parole hearing, the deck may already be stacked against them. Even when parole boards focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment, parole review processes often focus on institutional history, i.e., the person’s record of conduct and program completion inside prison. In other words, a person’s access to parole is shaped by what happens to them in prison—so when a prison has only a few program offerings, or the prison’s classification system or discipline policy produces racial disparities, those same disparate impacts seep into parole.
Join us to hear from LaToya Whiteside, Director of the Racial Equity in Corrections Initiative at Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, and Jasmin Borges, a directly impacted expert with her own experience navigating the parole process, about how parole fails to account for differential access to programs, racially targeted prison discipline, classification systems that keep people in higher security prisons with few opportunities, and other ways people experience discrimination within prison and jail systems. We’ll discuss how systems could be structured instead to help prepare people to reenter their communities starting from the day a person is sentenced.
LaToya Whiteside, Senior Attorney, joined Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts (PLS) in October 2018, where she founded and directs the Racial Equity in Corrections Initiative. Since joining PLS, her work has focused on forging connections in communities of color and improving the conditions of Black and Brown prisoners throughout Massachusetts. She is a 2020 graduate of the Shriver Center on Poverty Law’s Racial Justice Institute and a Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation 2021 Racial Justice Fellow. Her work resulted in PLS being awarded a $250,000 grant from RIZE Massachusetts Foundation, Inc. to ensure Black and Brown prisoners receive equitable access to Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD). She served on the Special Legislative Commission on Structural Racism in Correctional Facilities of the Commonwealth and was one of the principal drafters of the final report (Dec. 2022). She was also appointed by the Attorney General to the Massachusetts Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund Advisory Council. She is a graduate of Spelman College and Rutgers School of Law. After law school, she served as a federal law clerk to the Honorable Chief Judge Petrese Tucker in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Prior to attending law school, Attorney Whiteside worked in the mental health field as a substance use counselor in North Carolina.
Jasmin Borges is an organizer with the Massachusetts Bail Fund. She is an activist and advocate for the liberation of all our brothers and sisters behind the wall. She is a formerly incarcerated expert who has personally experienced the prison and parole systems in Massachusetts, directly and through her family, as well as a mother and an advocate for No Cost Calls in Massachusetts.
Katy Naples-Mitchell, Program Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, is the moderator of the Myths of Public Safety speaker series. Prior to joining PCJ, Katy spent four years as a legal fellow and then staff attorney at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, a research and policy institute at Harvard Law School.
The Myths of Public Safety: Parole speaker series is organized by Katy Naples-Mitchell, Program Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, and Sandra Susan Smith, Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice; Faculty Director, Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management; Director, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy; Professor of Sociology; and Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute.
Speakers and Presenters
LaToya Whiteside, Director of Racial Equity in Corrections Initiative at Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts | Jasmin Borges, Formerly Incarcerated Expert and Activist, Advocate, and Organizer, Massachusetts Bail Fund | Katy Naples-Mitchell, Program Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management (Moderator)
Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management