On today's date in The Beacon archives, we published:•21c Hotel Celebration of Discrimination (2012)
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Posted by Justin Jeffre
It was bone chilling outside as we walked towards the entrance. We went through the security process which takes some time. Then we had a long cold walk in two single file lines across a long courtyard and into the chapel.
Once were inside we were treated to a performance by some of the inmates. They sang several songs-really well I might add. And then we were treated to a performance by a group from the Martin Luther KING CHORALE. My understanding is that there are several incarnations of this choir. They sang spiritual and songs from the civil rights era. I felt compelled to sing along.
I along with 4 others performed a piece written by students from SCPA titled “Where Do We Stand?”which they will be performing on Monday at BE THE CHANGE-LIVE THE FREEDOM! MLK tribute at Music Hall at 12pm. It was well received.
I had a chance to interact with many of the inmates and we all sang together. I was struck by how warm and appreciative they were. Too often people that have gotten caught up in the criminal injustice system are portrayed as hardened criminals that are a danger to society. Granted this wasn’t a maximum security prison, but the reality is that most of those men shouldn’t be behind bars and the system does nothing to help them become productive members of our society. It does that opposite. Legal scholar Michelle Alexander describes the system as the New Jim Crow.
Having had the pleasure to interact with these men-most of who were relatively young-I’m more convinced than ever of the need to reform our criminal injustice system into a restorative justice system that helps to make people whole. We need a system where we help people realize their full human potential instead of marginalizing them into a second class or caste status. There can be no peace until we have justice. In order for us to have justice we need to transform this criminal justice system which busts our budgets and destroys lives and families.
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