Monday, June 12, 2017

301 Steps Closer to Ending Mass Incarceration!

The following was submitted by Glenn E. Martin, Founder & President of JustLeadershipUSA

On May 20th, JustLeadershipUSA held its 8th Emerging Leaders (EL) training in Los Angeles. Working with our partners on the ground, we recruited 46 formerly incarcerated Los Angelinos who have demonstrated leadership potential in the field of criminal justice reform. Gathering at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law, these men and women spent a full day together, undergoing the groundbreaking leadership model we developed in partnership with the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia University, and learning to apply three key practices to their work: Responsibility, Self-Reflection/Feedback, and Creating Collective Leadership.

Just as I had hoped when I founded JLUSA, our network of leaders, bound together by their experience of mass incarceration as well as their engagement with state of the art leadership training, is growing exponentially. Our Leading with Conviction (LwC)  leaders are playing an indispensable role in identifying and recruiting participants for the EL trainings in their locales, and those individuals, in turn, are encouraged to apply for the more intensive LwC trainings which require a much more significant commitment of time and effort. I'm grateful to the MacArthur Foundation's Safety + Justice Challenge for their support of our Emerging Leaders initiative. 

The Los Angeles training brought our national total of formerly incarcerated people to 301 men and women in 27 states plus the District of Columbia. And each and every one of them are engaged in work that brings us closer to our goal of cutting the number of people under correctional supervision in the U.S. by half by 2030.

Each participant in the Emerging Leaders trainings receives a Samsung Galaxy tablet donated by Google. To many of us, this might seem like a small gesture, but for people recently released from prison who have been cut off from technology for years, it can transform their advocacy.  As one participant wrote to me, “I received my tablet, and I am overwhelmed with emotions. This gift will unquestionably support and assist in advancing my vision to create a fair, just, and humane criminal justice system.”

After May’s powerful convening, I am more encouraged than ever that JLUSA will leave an indelible footprint on our country’s march towards a more just criminal justice system. With your steady support, even the most retrograde emanations from Washington will not stop us.  Thank you all!

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