Criminal justice reformers celebrated the Day of Empathy on March 6, helping focus attention on prisoners and former prisoners who make positive contributions to their communities.
“We are here today because we understand that even though crime hurts, justice should heal,” said Southern Poverty Law Center Advocate Alesha Jenkins at a Jackson, Miss., rally.
“Forgive us. Forgive them. Forgive him. Forgive her. Forgive me,” urged former prisoner Pauline Rogers, WLBT reported. She advocated for a more compassionate approach to handling decisions about offenders’ futures.
A similar celebration was held in Little Rock, Ark., reported KATV. “We need to address the substance abuse disorders, we need to address the mental health issues; we need to address education, and we can’t do any of that when we’re wast- ing this much money locking people up,” said Jessica Jack- son, co-founder of #cut50.
Discussions included the need for intervention courts to consider sentences involving mental health and reentry programs.
The events included former prisoners and celebrities like David Arquette and Christina McLarty.
KATV’s Marine Glisovic reported the successes of #cut50 include assisting in the authoring and passing of federal laws, such as The First Act. It also expanded programs aimed at reducing recidivism and strengthening early-release programs.
“We’re here just opening up hearts and minds and telling people we’re here to have compassion and empathy, and rehabilitate a system that really is broken,” commented McLarty.
The organization #cut50 attempts to improve the chances of keeping families together through increased assistance and awareness at federal, state and local levels.