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  • Chicago Southside Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) and Appleseed Take A Stand Against Money

    The basis of season 5 episode 5: "The Pre-Trial Fairness Act," is a legal document that host, Elaine Sutton, describes as 'a very comprehensive' effort where Chicago (SOUL) and Appleseed maintain a coalition to oppose money bonds with over 100 organizations. The Act does away with the systemic methods that hold innocent people and those with petty crimes in imprisonment. “The bill is structured so that several people in jail can go down,” said show guest Sarah Staudt, Director of Policy at Chicago Appleseed. For some crimes, jail is not necessary. Staudt also mentioned that some people are, inescapably, kept in prison for racist reasons. This episode also featured Saint Louis University graduate A'Keisha Lee (MPH-HMP '19). A local organizer with Chicago Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL). The South-side organization operates on a non-discriminatory level, fighting for the sun to shine on the rights of everyone to have access to basic housing, food, and shelter. SOUL prioritizes the fulfillment of the needs of people of color. Lee has been gravitating towards community organizing work for a long time. Among her tasks for SOUL, Lee researches policies, talks to people in the community, writes press releases, and organizes protests. As an advocate with the YWCA program for sexual assault victims at Saint Louis University (SLU) helped Lee develop skills in the fields of public health and advocacy. And her work canvassing for Medicaid expansion prepared her for visiting door-to-door. During an internship at Better Family Life, a community development non-profit in St. Louis, Lee developed her passion for justice. Ms. Lee attributes Dr. Rhonda BeLue's very individualized approach to mentorship to her time at SLU. One of Lee's favorites in the School of Social Work is Dr. Stephen McMillan for his "wonderful style." She advises current SLU students to consider opportunities "outside of traditional health care." Staudt also shared that these collective efforts "[w]as a very long process." She shared that the organization around ending money bonds in Illinois started almost a decade ago. The first group of organizations was called the Coalition to End Money Bond, a county group, in 2015-16 Chicago. The organization quickly learned that the issues and repercussions of money bonds overlap with Chicago because Illinois is a big state. Staudt claims that the approach helps them stay on the same page and "join hands." Similarly, an African village references the principles it set to sustain its purpose of humanity. Therefore, the coalition of organizations meets frequently and organizes itself effectively, driven by the aim of being unified in their mission to end money bonds. Staudt described reaching unity as a labor of love, “When we accomplished the direction we could rely on, we continued to ask: ‘What did we all agree? What are our guiding principles?” She shared that they have amazing organizers who can reach a consensus. When asked: "What do the 100+ organizations do to agree on the direction and operation of the coalition?" Staudt explained; that they set out to understand the principles of money bonds and how each is challenged. Therefore, serving as a compass to consensus. She elaborated on how the collective of organizations set up responses that were common answers to the problems that they foresaw. This was primarily because of the diversification of the cause, and movement. Some organizations are in criminal justice and others are not. Lee responded to Ms. Sutton's question about her role in this campaign. She held that hers was the role of a teacher. She educates but also advocates for the rights of people of color on the South and West sides in addition to forming part of the collective that teaches them how this law will impact them now and in the future. "We go where they are. We go to schools." Ms. Lee responded when asked how they reach the youth. Staudt gave the synopsis of what the Act is by saying it eliminates the money bond and ensures that as few people as possible are in jail. "Eliminating money bonds is great," said Staudt. "But if what we do does not decrease the number of people in jail, we haven’t succeeded." The bill is structured to ensure that the total number of people in jail decreases. Staudt did mention that they, as organizations, do take arrests for new felonies very seriously. Lee added that "the key changes impact human beings." She mentioned that changing the system would ensure that spaces are people-friendly and people-oriented. One of the infractions that she noted that people get arrested for is warrants issued to them and they're unaware or didn't receive notification of the warrant. The audience joined the discussion by asking, "Does this affect anyone or everyone? Is juvenile justice on the way up? " Staudt said they target adults, therefore, people over 18. She added that “we cannot be funding our courts on the backs of people who have not been found guilty of a crime. That cannot be the way”. Lee posits an intriguing question, “Is it a punishment that gets you better, or is it community support?” Watch the full episode on our YouTube channel.

  • Tyrone Walker, Director of Reentry at Georgetown University Pivot and Prison Scholars Program

    Today we reflect on our conversation about the Pivot and Prison Scholars Program with a special guest: Tyrone Walker, Director of Reentry at Georgetown University Pivot and Prison Scholars Program. Mr. Walker did not mince words when he talked about transforming prison cells into thought spaces where the emphasis is on conversation and thoughtfulness. While he elaborated on the programs, the previously incarcerated Walker, now the Director of Reentry, emphasized the importance of empowering students to build self-confidence by allowing the discussion to grow naturally. Mr. Walker also mentioned that high school students on the outside have the mutual opportunity to support and aid the advancement of their incarcerated peers in their college studies. Walker says their program divides into the Prison Scholars Program and the Pivot Program. The Washington, DC treatment center offers this rehabilitation program where participants have the opportunity to take classes in Philosophy, English, Business, and Writing from Georgetown University faculty through the Prison Scholars initiative. Walker describes the program as "Coming down from the hilltop and meeting people where they are and putting them inline”. The transition from learning to implementing Some prisoners are fortunate enough to get into the pivot program after completing their course credits within the Prison Scholars program. Georgetown University also offers previously incarcerated people the Pivot Program (upon completion of Prison Scholars), which combines entrepreneurship and internships. It is a 10-month to a year-long program in which students learn: Philosophy, English, Business, and Writing skills from credit-earning courses. In our final February Black-History-Month*-show, he made it clear that DC is the only place where these programs run. Both programs are available at the two centers in Washington, DC: the Treatment Center and the Detention Center. Walker further mentioned some of the partners who make the program a reality: Deloit, the Justice Policy Institute, Dick Sporting Goods, and Starbucks are partnerships that make this program a success. He emphasized that these are examples of companies and organizations that open their doors to being a part of the reentry of the incarcerated. "Coming down from the hilltop and meeting people where they are and putting them inline”. This show taught us that determination 'spreads our wings' regardless of circumstances. Walker added that some past program participants became managers at companies like Starbucks. The aforementioned demonstrates that everyone has the power to rise from their situation and restore justice to the community and themselves. Walker says he is also a Cohort 1 graduate of the Pivot Program. He mentioned that one of the well-read professors approached him years back and asked whether he, Walker, was willing to earn an income while gaining an education at Georgetown University as a previously incarcerated person. Mr. Walker says "he never heard of such an opportunity" and grabbed it without question. He soon embarked on the Program six days after his release from prison. Walker then took on his internship with the Justice Policy Institute coming from the Georgetown University learning and unlearning process. Now a director of the reentry, Mr. Walker gives props to his professor, who taught him to find the weaknesses of a business, to (metaphorically) 'pull the business apart and rebuild it'. He consequently began to adapt his ideas into concepts on paper that are conceivable business initiatives. Changing the status quo Conceptualizing how the DC government could take better action about previously incarcerated persons during his internship, Walker landed his program host, the Justice Policy Institute, a grant to continue hosting more people like him. The change he has affected is promoting visibility and prioritizing previously incarcerated people for reentry with a smoother transition. Bringing matters home According to the findings of Gcobani Ndike's University of Fort Hare Master of Social Work (MSW) dissertation in 2008, Reintegration of Ex-offenders on Community: In a case study of Whittlesea Township in Lukhanji Municipality the most significant obstacles to successful rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders into society are the unfavorable socioeconomic situations they encounter after their release. Ndike. (2014), Reintegrate Of ex-offenders on community: A case study of Whittlesea Township in Lukhanji Municipality,, Retrieved from Reintegrate Of ex-offenders on community: A case study of Whittlesea Township in Lukhanji Municipality (links are external) The stigma of being incarcerated and the necessity for employment, food, and shelter are just some of the problems that former inmates confront when they return to society. Following their release from prison, the community is wary about reintegrating convicted criminals back into society. As a result of this social stigma, ex-offenders frequently have difficulty finding employment, potentially ending in family dissolution. There are numerous rehabilitation programs that inmates participate in while behind bars. These efforts need maintenance and assessments following release from jail or prison. Without this support, recidivism is likely. Even though the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) offers a variety of rehabilitation programs for inmates, it is apparent that these efforts are not always available upon release. In 2017, Victor Chikadzi, an associate professor in the Department of Social Work at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, wrote that “...criminal offender rehabilitation and reintegration are considered vital components of an effective crime-fighting strategy.” Research shows, however, that upon release from prison, ex-offenders in South Africa face many challenges that weaken their chances of reform and predispose them to recidivism. Chikazdi. (2017) Social, Challenges Facing Ex-Offenders When Reintegrating Into Mainstream Society In Gauteng, South Africa Chikadzi discusses in the aforementioned publication the challenges faced by ex-offenders as they reintegrate into mainstream society in Gauteng, South Africa (SA), siting primary data from a qualitative study. The findings show that ex-offenders struggle to adjust because of broken family and community relationships, unemployment, and lack of after-care services. Around the world, there are fewer studies focused on offender reintegration. In SA, the literature regarding offender reintegration and rehabilitation is scarce. As part of crime prevention and reduction strategy, Chikadzi continues to elaborate that such a body of knowledge is critical in support of offenders and society. The burgeoning prison population has resulted in overcrowding in many prisons in SA. The status quo in South Africa has not changed much given the account of the aforementioned sources. Casper Lӧtter who is a research fellow, at North-West University wrote“...the idea of hiring former convicts or ex-offenders as prison wardens are catching on everywhere. Following recent departmental budget cuts in South Africa, this idea has gained traction.” Lӧtter. (2021) Ex-offenders should be made prison wardens in South Africa. Here’s why Years of prison violence and staff shortages haunt Departments of Corrections. Recidivism is at an all-time high, with limited solutions to combat the issue. Society treating ex-offenders better might help them fulfill work requirements, thus reducing recidivism. Norms of shame The United States and SA label and stigmatize the incarcerated and are pushed to the margins of society. Beyond societal norms, they are tempted into joining criminal gangs and criminal mischief. Fortunately, some cultures like the Chinese in the late 1900s and the Japanese in the early 2000s have supported reintegration. These cultures focus on their similarities with the formerly incarcerated rather than their differences. Free, unbiased, and scientific news Ex-offenders who are stigmatized and shamed are more likely to re-offend and/or re-injure writes Lӧtter. In the US, it's 66%. Although difficult to assess, the range in SA is reportedly 86-94%. China had one of the world's most integrated shame cultures around the turn of the century, with a re-offending rate of 6-8%. Appointing ex-offenders as prison wardens not only improves prison management but also gives them a source of income. It also provides positive role models with whom inmates can identify and share their life experiences. Lӧtter. (2021) Conclusion In conclusion, this episode and our guest's experiences embody our hopes of justice and social change. Catch the episode if you missed it! Prison Scholar to Director of Reentry Services: Georgetown University S5E4 *Black History Month is officially is recognized by governments in the United States and Canada. It was also recently celebrated in Ireland and the United Kingdom. The Justice Beat Talk Show airs on Saturdays and covers issues of inclusive justice that affect the incarcerated, their family, and friends.

  • Dr. Elena Quintana explores socially just solutions to public safety issues.

    Justice Beat Talk Show discusses Social Justice with Dr. Elena Quintana. Dr. Quintana creates programs, researches, and promotes events that explore socially just solutions to public safety issues. Partnering with community members, law enforcement, detention facility staff, and inmates, in addition to universities and local governments—Dr. Quintana aims to implement socially just policies and practices. What are Dr. Elena Quintana’s research interests? Her research interests include violence prevention, mass incarceration, reentry issues, trauma therapeutics, immigration, and enhancing public safety through social justice. To her, active participation in both learning and teaching is vital—allowing students to relate their personal experiences to the issues at the moment. Inspiration as an engine to reach social justice In another interview, Dr. Quintana shared that, once a month, she helps facilitate a class at Danville Correctional Center with men, primarily convicted of violent crimes–mostly murder. “They’re also non-violent scholars, who zealously find ways to better themselves and the Chicago communities they physically have not visited for decades. By training inmates with shorter sentences to identify: their trauma-what triggers them, and assist them in responding non-violently to difficulties or challenges.” To Quintana, social justice is about identifying public safety challenges with socially just solutions. What Dr. Quintana regards as social justice The Adler University social justice activist adds, “Together, they have created an inspired space for growth and healing. It is sacred. All participants are disciplined and thoughtful, open-minded and astute. They are the best students I’ve ever had. They are among the best teachers I’ve ever had.” To Quintana, social justice is about identifying public safety challenges with socially just solutions. What does Dr. Quintana do in terms of furthering access to social justice? In understanding social justice—we can appreciate and understand—Dr. Quintana's work. The United Nations defines social justice as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth and the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political, and social opportunities. Access and opportunity are the primary goals of social workers, especially those in need. Despite the differences in formal definitions of social justice, there are commonalities: Equal rights Equal opportunity Equal treatment Quintana holds that she is part of a collective that looks at public safety beyond policing and assessing what the former evolves into in the times ahead. Restorative/Retributive Justice In restorative justice, the offender takes responsibility for the actual harm done and takes corrective action. Retributive justice focuses on punishment as its principal objective. This action is considered adequate compensation to the victim and society. The background of restorative/retributive justice in South Africa South Africa's (SA) 'restorative justice' philosophy emerged as a response to the need to change the country's 'retributive criminal justice system. The SA system, based on Roman-Dutch law, accommodated indigenous communities of African legal practices. This method is a more participatory and reconciliatory approach. 'Restorative Justice' processes must comply with the South African Constitution, human rights principles, and the rule of law. In many African communities, restorative justice is a conflict resolution approach that brings together victims, offenders, and community members to address and resolve a crime. Addressing crime, disputes, and related problems that affect them promotes restoration, reparation, reintegration, and community participation. Compensation, reparation, or apology are all forms of restoration that help mend broken relationships. African people tend to live communally, and they are wary of anything that might strain relationships, separate a family from the community, and paralyze social relations. (2018) | A Comparative Analysis of Restorative Justice Practices in Africa - GlobaLex (link is external) Working with the Independent Monitoring Tool Elaine Sutton, the Executive Producer and Host of the Justice Beat Talk Show, asked Dr. Quintana: "What working with police reform is like, and what Dr. Quintana's efforts are in this policing transformation?" She replied that The Independent Monitoring Team is responsible for assessing the Chicago Police Department and the City of Chicago's Compliance with the Consent Decree. Dr. Quintana assured our viewers that the team has no direct affiliation with the City and Police Department.

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  • Host | The Justice Beat Talk Show

    Back MEET YOUR HOST L. Elaine Sutton Mbionwu S1:E7 March 7, 2020 Women Trailblazers and Justice Reform | Photo by: Bobby Murphy, former Technical Production Manager (UMSL Intern - 2020 Cohort 1) "Strategic, Creative & Active Engagement Builds Beloved Communities" With 30 years of direct professional experience and exposure in civil rights, social change, and justice reform, Elaine always envisioned creating and establishing a digitized media broadcast vehicle for the benefit of marginalized, unmet, and undeserved people. At this point in her career she finds herself giving back to young people through mentoring, coaching, teaching, training, consulting and advising through internship opportunities. On this page, please enjoy a timeline (in 3 pgs) of our Hosts' dedication to the cause and the youth that carry on this work. Interns selected for placement in the NxGen Media Internship Program have The Justice Beat Talk Show assigned as their direct-project. NxGen Media utilizes a hybrid model in which internships are offered primarily as remote opportunities with some aspects of the internship onsite for live-taping. Due to COVID-19 NxGen Media will operates in a fully remote posture at this time.

  • Video Digest | The Justice Beat Talk Show

    Djembe' "Talking Drum" Video Digest Season 1 | Episode 1 of The Talking Drum, video digest for The Justice Beat Talk Show Season 1, Episode 1 This link to educate yourself on minimum standards of care in jails in prisons This link to volunteer to be involved in the rehabilitation of offenders This link to support campaigns— ACTIONSTL, ArchCity, Bail Project attack on mass incarceration — people routinely remain incarcerated due to their inability to afford unconstitutionally high cash bails Season 1 | Episode 2 of The Talking Drum, video digest for The Justice Beat Talk Show Season 1, Episode 2 This link outlining a plan to permanently shutter the City’s Medium Security Institution, commonly known as the Workhouse. This link to find out who your alderperson is and call mayor lyda krewson and demand action now (314) 622-3201 Inquire about volunteering email or call (314) 722-5196

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