Danielle Sennett, Senior Director of Policy at The Fortune Society

Fortune’s Agenda to Advance Criminal Justice Reform

Monday, March 14, 2016

“The glaring injustice is there for all who are not blinded by prejudice to see (Bram Fischer).” The United States’ criminal justice system as presently constituted is profoundly flawed.  Instead of being grounded in values such as fairness, rehabilitation, and redemption, our criminal justice system is permeated by inherent discrimination, disparate punishments, and zealous prosecution.

These practices resulted in the United States currently housing the largest prison population in the world. Individuals and communities of color experience the debilitating effects of incarceration at exponentially higher rates. Unnecessarily long confinement and the resulting convictions damage the social fabric of minority communities, weaken family bonds, hinder employment prospects, stifle educational opportunities, and threaten housing stability. The impact of a conviction can last a lifetime. We need to change the way our society views crime, people with convictions, and punishment.

It is our nation’s obligation to bring an end to mass incarceration. We must undertake action and comprehensively change the criminal justice system in a way that removes bias and eliminates both counterproductive policies and harsh sentencing laws.  While the objective is to scale down future use of incarceration, our current efforts must involve greater access to reentry services to people transitioning from correctional institutions. As such, I am proud to be a new employee at the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy (DRCPP), dedicating my time to advocate for the complete overhaul of our criminal justice system.

At DRCPP, we advocate for a fairer criminal justice system; promote effective program models and needed supports for people with criminal justice histories; and change the counterproductive laws and policies that create barriers to successful community reentry following involvement in the criminal justice system. Each year, DRCPP staff creates a Policy Agenda setting forth necessary objectives to promote the purpose of the Center. DRCPP’s innovative formula touches upon diverse facets that together can bring about the holistic change our society requires.

We are pleased to share with you our 2016 Policy Agenda, highlighting our priorities as we advance Fortune’s mission through advocacy, research, and community education. I am grateful that working at The Fortune Society allows me to tackle these issues in a systemic way to create expansive policy change that can affect the lives of millions of people.

Categories: Community

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