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Opinion More ways to reimagine safety

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The provocative March 21 series “Reimagine Safety” addressed one of the greatest voids in the criminal justice reform discourse: inclusion. It’s worth noting that the diversity of voices speaking to this issue represents the urgent need to address criminal justice reform from a spectrum of viewpoints; however, those voices are rarely given a national platform. Survivors of crime, formerly incarcerated individuals, prosecutors, researchers, advocates and police representatives all need to have a voice in how we move forward if our proposed solutions are to be effective.

The old 12-step aphorism “insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results” applies here. If we are to make a change that is meaningful and lasting, reforms must be grounded in data and built with impact and longevity in mind. For example, the resurgence of the death penalty in this country was fueled by an implied promise of “justice” to families of victims, despite a lack of justice dispensed by our racialized and broken criminal justice system. The only path forward is one that focuses on results, the inclusion of voices and perspectives, and meaningful systemic change.

Eva-Marie Malone, New York

The writer is director of training
and criminal justice at the
Opportunity Agenda.

Kudos on the multipage section “Reimagine Safety.” The articles are timely and helpful in understanding the different issues involved. However, there was a glaring omission in the section. There were no editorials on the need to reimagine corrections. 

Correctional facilities lack transparency, demean the incarcerated and brutalize them. Ninety-five percent of those incarcerated will leave prison. Often, they leave more broken, more cynical and more embittered than when they entered. Too little effort and time is spent on supporting the incarcerated to make different choices for themselves. Not enough resources are devoted to better medical and psychological services or to offering sufficient educational opportunities. Moreover, many spend 10 to 40 years in prison. 

Men and women leave prison psychologically, spiritually and educationally unprepared to reenter the community. Then we are surprised when too many revert to what they know best how to do to survive: crime. It is time to reimagine corrections so that these facilities focus on rehabilitation, not more punishment.

Charles Feinberg, Washington

The writer is executive director of
Interfaith Action for Human Rights.

Read more letters to the editor.