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May 20, 2022

Spotlighting the role of victims in advocating and advancing criminal justice refroms

This new Yahoo News article, headlined "Red states are enacting criminal justice reform at the urging of crime victims," is worth a full read. Here are excerpts from the lengthy piece:

In an effort to create the system of support he and others never had, [shooting victim Aswad] Thomas pivoted to a career where he could help other crime victims heal by joining Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ), a multistate public policy organization that promotes legislation on behalf of crime victims. The organization advocates for trauma centers in communities, less complicated probation laws and rehabilitation such as life skills programs and employment opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.

Since its founding in 2016, ASJ has won more than 50 campaigns tied directly to support for crime victims, including key wins in Republican-majority states that have been historically resistant to criminal justice reform....

These successes are a big reason why the CEO of ASJ, Jay Jordan, who spent eight years in prison for a robbery he committed in his teens, grimaces at the mention of criminal justice reform, instead calling it public safety — an important distinction that he says has garnered bipartisan support through the years.

“People often say, ‘Let's get tough on crime,’” Jordan told Yahoo News. “We say, ‘Let's get tough on safety.’ … We don’t see [states] as Republican or Democratic states. We see them as states where people live where people want to be safe.”...

In Ohio, India Brown, whose partner was murdered, was initially blocked from accessing victims’ compensation funds because of a previous teenage felony. Brown persuaded Gov. Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost, two Republicans, to fund trauma recovery centers and remove barriers to victims’ compensation. This would ensure that families have emotional support and financial stability. “I wrestled with unspeakable grief,” Brown wrote in an op-ed for the Columbus Dispatch.

And in Texas last summer, veteran Melvin Halsey, along with other crime victims, helped advocate for reform of the state’s probation system. Tens of thousands of Texans will no longer be sent back to prison for technical violations as a result. “Black people make up 13% of the population in Texas, but we’re 33% of the state’s incarcerated population,” Halsey wrote in an op-ed for the Austin American-Statesman last year. “A system that focuses on helping people rehabilitate ourselves rather than doling out harsh punishments is not only the right thing to do, it makes communities safer and saves Texas money too.”

May 20, 2022 at 06:21 PM | Permalink


What a joke this is. It's another pro-criminal organization (appropriately enough headed by a violent criminal) simply appropriating the "victim" mantra in order to put one over. But it's the same "criminals-are-cool" program that the rest of the "reform" movement has. Generally, the disguises are better than this one; this is all but 100% transparent.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 20, 2022 7:56:58 PM

Hi Bill - I applaud these crime victims for advocating for lower sentences and a lower prison population. A prison system that simply warehouses people and neither recognizes that people are easily drawn to crime nor allows people to change and grow is fundamentally flawed and these crime victims recognize that.

Posted by: Brett Miler | May 20, 2022 11:04:14 PM

Brett Miller --

"A prison system that simply warehouses people and neither recognizes that people are easily drawn to crime nor allows people to change and grow is fundamentally flawed..."

Well, a couple of things. People in my experience are not "easily drawn to crime," or certainly to the sorts of crime that will get you a prison sentence. Indeed, only a tiny sliver of the adult population uses violence to fix their problems, deals hard drugs, or swindles, cheats, robs and steals. I don't and I'd bet you don't either. A very few people do, yes, and it's up to them to change, not up to society to cater to them.

Also, whether you "change and grow" is up to you and your conscience, not up to the government. The government might help you get the skills for a job (if you have decided that's what you want), but it cannot change your heart for you. You have to do that yourself or it won't get done with the government or without.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 21, 2022 1:05:45 PM

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