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People now getting more comfortable talking about reducing punishment for the “non, non, nons.” Non-violent, non-felony, non-sex cases. We need to get comfortable talking about violence. How incarceration for violence fails to provide Justice for the accused, survivors, & public.
It is a “fallacy that the US can achieve large-scale transformative change by changing responses [just] to non-violent offenses. That is impossible in a nation where 54% of people incarcerated in state prisons were convicted of violent crimes.”
Incarceration actually “intensifies” drivers of violence by “interrupting people’s education, rendering many homeless upon return, limiting their prospects for employment, & disrupting the social fabric that is the strongest protection against harm, even in the face of poverty.”
The four key drivers of violence:

Shame, Isolation, Exposure to violence, & Diminished economic opportunity.

The four key features of prison:

Shame, Isolation, Exposure to violence, & Diminished economic opportunity.
THIS A MILLION TIMES OVER: “As a nation, we have developed a response to violence that is characterized by precisely what we know to be the main drivers of violence. We should not be surprised, then, when the system produces exactly the results we would expect.”
“In all the world & all recorded time, no country has locked up their own people at the rate we do. If incaceration worked to secure safety, we would be the safest nation in all of human history. If incarceration worked to stop violence, we would have eradicated it by now.”
How did we get to a place where our only “solution” to violence is a barbaric, unimaginative approach that only makes the problem worse? It’s politicians & cynical claims that they’re passing harsh laws “for survivors.” But these laws wound survivors in ways most don’t consider.
This painful truth: “It is in survivors’ names that we have built mass incarceration, and it is survivors who carry some of the heaviest burdens when incarceration fails to produce the safety it promises.”
“Transforming our response to violence requires placing the people who survive it at center of any response to it. This is not what we do. Legislators draw on victims’ stories to motivate sympathy, horror & outrage. But one thing rarely done is to ask survivors what they want.”
Survivors are no monolith. 52% of of violent victimizations in the US go unreported. “More than half of the people who survive serious violence prefer *nothing* to everything available to them through law enforcement.”
Think: Survivors of violence do not report not only bc they don’t trust the police—but also perhaps bc of “a disbelief that the end result of the justice system’s involvement—the incarceration of person responsible—is right or will work.”
Unfortunately those who decide not to cooperate w/ law enforcement, often get barred from resources: “A truly survivor-centered response to violence would include the broad availability of mental health, counseling, trauma-informed care, & culturally rooted healing” w/o barriers.
For survivors who do engage law enforcement, the experience is often far worse than not. The public narrative (propelled by lawmakers/media) is that arrest, conviction, & incarceration *is* the answer & *will* provide closure. When reality doesn’t meet expectation, pain doubles.
Punishment is not solution: “I seek the one thing I have been told might ease my pain [punishment]. [Yet] I am still I healed, still feel unsafe, & my appetite for justice is still unsatisfied. But now, unlike before I sought that remedy, I am heartbroken bc I am not better.”
Evidence that prison fails to heal trauma for survivors: Their letters to parole boards decades later.

“Time after time, victims tell the parole board they still feel exactly the way they did the day the crime occurred. Ten, fifteen, twenty-five years later—they feel the same.”
THIS: “How heartless do we have to be to fail to develop other ways to support healing in the face of unwavering evidence that we we are doing for victims is not working? Their pain continues bc they are relying on an intervention—incarceration—ill equipped to help them heal.”
Stories from crime survivors of “ongoing, ceaseless pain” despite the narrative incarceration will help, “implicate us all. As a culture, we repeatedly tell victims longer sentences will bring relief. Our society’s continual retelling of this story is, quite simply, UNETHICAL.”
What can we do to? As a start, according to the brilliant @daniellesered who wrote all of these words based on decades of experience: Stop generalizing crime victims, especially as pro-carceral. Turns out, they’re way more practical & rational than the general public.
No monolith: Despite what lawmakers tell us, the majority of crime survivors recognize incarceration leads to recidivism. And 69% “preferred holding ppl accountable through options beyond prison, such as rehabilitation, mental health treatment, community supervision or service.”
No monolith: As w/ other criminal “justice” issues (death penalty for example), when more info is provided to crime survivors, their opinions shift. “What survivors choose when they have only one option does not predict what they will want when multiple options are present.”
In Brooklyn, @daniellesered started an org called Common Justice that employs a “restorative justice” model. 16-26 y/os charged w/ violence sit across from & work w/ victims of their crime. *90% of survivors* who 1st went to police choose this when given option over incaceration.
A-Ha moment: “If we made a record of what victims really say, we would end up w/ a criminal justice system that would look surprisingly like the one we would develop if we listened to what defendants say.” It would be “characterized by accountability, safety, justice, & healing.”
We must reject calls for harsh responses to violence in victims’ names. Why? Survivors “have paid the price for prison’s failure w/ their pain. Survivors absolutely, urgently need all of us to end mass incarceration. It may be the only practical thing we can do in their names.”
All of the above passages come from @daniellesered’s “Until We Reckon.” This little thread is a just a toe dip into one of the most profound & urgent books I’ve ever read. Provided me w/ a new language around violence, justice, & abolition. Purchase here: amazon.com/Until-We-Recko…
For more information on Common Justice, their model, their extraordinary success rate, and why restorative justice > incarceration for crime survivors, accused, & public safety, please visit: commonjustice.org
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