Reply To: Session #2 The Criminal Justice Landscape

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Andrew Garcia

Reentry Overview Memo from Open Philanthropy
One of the biggest takeaways for me came at the end of the passage when it states: “There is relatively little available research on reentry services and on what determines the efficacy of support services in helping returning citizens to reintegrate.” This resonated with me because it highlights that more needs to be done from a research standpoint, and it actually makes a direct connection to the role of a “policy researcher,” highlighted in “The Art of Legislative Lawyering and the Six Circle Theory of Advocacy.” It was interesting to see all that is being done, but that there is still room for improvement to better assess the services available.

Criminal Justice Reform Strategy
My initial impression was that I was rather Impressed about the amount of programs that exist at the state, local, and federal level. I also enjoyed reading about the different types and different approaches that these programs are taking in hopes of reform in the criminal justice system. Furthermore, It was interesting to note that there is often a moral dilemma with implementing policies, due to the idea that more freedom equals less safety for the general public, when your reality research shows that is not the case. My biggest “Aha” moment came when the author stated that many funded programs often narrowly focus on a particular policy, and it can often provide a “false message that fixing that policy will fix a huge chunk of the problem.” This really stuck with me because they highlighted the case of Kalif Browder, and they noted that many people (including myself) believed he was stuck in jail because he could not pay his bail. However, it is brought to light that he was on a probation hold, and he would not have been released regardless if he made bail. This leads to the idea that had there been more bail reform, then maybe Kalif would still be alive, but by narrowly focusing on bail reform, we ignore the harsh conditions that are often imposed on people with probation, as well as the cruel conditions that exist in jails and prisons. This only reiterates the idea that programs can give the wrong impression about fixing a bigger problem, when they are actually only focused on one aspect of the problem.

The Art of Legislative Lawyering and the Six Circle Theory of Advocacy / Part 2
Reading this passage was interesting, mainly because of the attributes a legislative lawyer may possess, and how they fit in the environment of advocacy and policy reform. Personally, I believe I am more of a policy researcher when it comes to my role in the field. My current work involves research on trauma-informed care among gang interventionists, and my evaluation can potentially lead to policy change within my organization. This not only serves a direct purpose for the program and its direction, but it also can impact the communities that the program serves. Clients have the potential to receive services from a program that has implemented trauma-informed care, and it is due in part to the research aspect of the field that serves as a catalyst for change.