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June 13, 2019

More on the Rewriting the Sentence Summit

In this post and this post, I flagged this great event, titled "Rewriting the Sentence Summit on Alternatives to Incarceration," taking place next week in New York City hosted by Columbia University and The Aleph Institute at Columbia Law School. Today, Hanna Liebman Dershowitz has this new piece in the New York Law Journal about the event and related work under the headline "Rewriting the Sentence Means Choosing New Words."   Here is an excerpt:

Next week, hundreds of key stakeholders in our criminal legal system are gathering at The Aleph Institute’s Rewriting the Sentence summit on alternatives to incarceration at Columbia Law School. Rewriting the Sentence is part of Aleph’s multi-pronged strategic initiative to drive change in our system of punishment away from the reflexive and harsh overuse of incarceration.

These projects are shining a light on the vast array of innovative alternatives to incarceration springing up all over the country, and bridging gaps in knowledge and research about what are best practices and how to understand the culture shift that is happening. The summit will bring together the very people who make decisions each day that impact the lives of the millions of people who pass through our criminal justice system each year and reexamine the tools available to hold people accountable so that prison is no longer considered the main one. The summit will advance the conversation around how to define and nudge the culture shift already happening in this arena.

Aleph is formally announcing at the summit the establishment of the Center for Fair Sentencing, which will host a digital portal and maintain a clearinghouse on alternatives to incarceration.  This clearinghouse will bind together the community of stakeholders exploring or exemplifying the best practices in alternative programs, providing data and analysis; lift up examples of programs using data-informed approaches and best practices; publish turnkey guides, such as one for establishing alternative programs; proffer policy white papers and reports; and advocate for expansion of the use of non-custodial approaches.

As America’s criminal justice system continues to shift away from an unthinkingly harsh mindset, other terms belong on the rebranding block too, such as “alternatives to incarceration” and “alternative sentencing.”  These phrases lock us into the lock-’em-up mentality we so badly need to escape. What we really should be thinking of is alternatives to punishment, not incarceration.

Prior related posts:

June 13, 2019 at 10:21 PM | Permalink


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