“Both Sides of the Bars,” The Fortune Society’s television program that explores and sheds light on critical criminal justice issues, is now airing on over 100 stations around the country! Every month, Andre Ward, Associate Vice President of The Fortune Society’s David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy, interviews policy experts and directly impacted advocates about how the current criminal justice system works, its intersections with social justice, and efforts being made to improve the lives of those impacted.
In recognition of this milestone, here are the 5 latest episodes of “Both Sides of the Bars” you can watch on Youtube:
1. Pell Grant Restoration — Its Significance For Affecting Meaningful Individual Change
Recently Congress presented a stimulus package that included significant changes to higher-education law, including the resumption of Federal financial aid to people in prison that was banned in the 1994 crime bill championed by then-Sen. Joe Biden. The restoration of Pell grants for incarcerated students is a watershed moment for the criminal justice overhaul movement as it unwinds decades of punitive practices in favor of finding avenues to reintegrate incarcerated people into society. This episode’s guest is Dyjuan Tatro, the government affairs officer at the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI).
2. 2020 Year in Review: Criminal Justice Reform in the Age of COVID
In prisons, COVID-19 impacted many and the number of people testing positive for the virus continues to grow. This has prompted a major push from the advocacy community to have people released early from prisons and jails, especially the elderly. Others from the advocacy community are advancing campaigns to reduce the number of people on probation and parole, and pushing to ensure that people receive supportive services upon release, especially housing. Our guest is Gabriel Sayegh, co-founder and co-executive director of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice.
3. Releasing Aging People In Prison—Why It’s Important Now More Than Ever
Americans are aging in prison. It is projected that, by 2030, there will be more than 400,000 older people behind bars, a 4,400% increase from 1981. However, the best ways to reduce the number of elderly people inside and support them once released is still being studied and debated. At the center of this work is the Releasing Aging People in Prison (RAPP) Campaign, which works to end mass incarceration and promote racial justice through the release of older and aging people from prison and those serving long and life sentences. In this episode, learn more from Jose Hamza Saldana, Director of RAPP.
4. Parole Reform – Less Is More:
New York State incarcerates more people on parole for technical violations — like missing an appointment with a parole officer, being late for curfew, or testing positive for alcohol — than any other state except Illinois. And the racial disparity is stark: Black people are incarcerated in NYC jails for technical parole violations at more than 12 times the rate of white people.
In this episode, learn how the “Less Is More: Community Supervision Revocation Reform Act” would fix this, with panelists Della L. Smith, member of the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice; Donna Hylton, president and founder of A Little Piece of Light; and Emily NaPier Singeltary, co-founder and co-executive director of Unchained.
5. Remembering Attica: 49 Years Later:
From September 9th-13th, 1971, incarcerated men took control of the yard at Attica State Prison and demanded basic human living conditions and civil rights. However, their peaceful attempts were shut down when the state responded with force, killing many incarcerated men and guards. The repercussions of that uprising are still being felt today according to the two guests of this episode—Tyrone Larkins, who was 23 at the time and was shot three times during the uprising, and David Rothenberg, founder of The Fortune Society, who was at Attica as one of 30 observers summoned to witness negotiations with the state.