Reply To: Session #1: Key Takeaways

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Jose Medina

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie

As a court watcher, I’ve seen the people that are discussed in the statistics and graphs from Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie. I was reminded of defendants that would ask to be released under their own recognizance due to medical, social, or financial reasons but would usually be denied by the judge.

When I read the, “Low-level fugitives” live in fear of incarceration for missed court dates and unpaid fines, section of the Mass Incarceration article I was reminded of the times I would witness judges serve large amounts of bench warrants in a day. When I’d observe these instances, I couldn’t help but think about the financial and social strain the pandemic has caused people to possibly not have enough money for transportation, bills etc., or are genuinely afraid of appearing in person to court because they want to practice social distancing.

I had an “aha” moment when I read the part in Mass Incarceration with the phrase “involuntarily detained or committed” to state psychiatric hospitals and civil commitment centers. I was reminded of a California State Assembly bill I recently reported and wrote an article on. The bill is AB 1542 and its goal is to create a voluntary program for individuals suffering from substance use disorders and who have been convicted of nonviolent drug-related felonies, so they would have an opportunity to get treatment for their addiction instead of being sent to jail. It recently passed the Public Safety Committee, during the hearing a caller from Human Rights Watch opposed the bill because it was turning “healthcare into incarceration” and I couldn’t agree more.

Hope is a Discipline:

While hearing the Hope is a Discipline, Mariame Kaba interview I was reminded of my conflicted emotions behind the Chauvin trial and verdict. On one hand, I am happy for George Floyd’s family and community that wished to convict Chauvin for the charges. On the other hand, I feel strongly against using punishment as a form of justice. I felt validated in my thoughts when Mariame Kaba talked about the Chauvin trial and what it means to have a societal collective notion of justice and that the punishment is not it.

When Mariame spoke about her father and his quote “Everything worthwhile is done with other” I was reminded of the importance of forming affinity groups so that you’ll never be alone in acts of direct action, mutual aid, and mobilizing. There’s something revolutionary about getting together in a group sharing a meal, discussing decision-making, committing to direct actions together, taking care of one another, and bringing your “whole-self” to these affinity group meetings for social justice.