One of my biggest takeaways from The Art of Legislative Lawyering and the Six Circles Theory of Advocacy is the disaggregation of roles in effective policy change. It was helpful to see the separate and distinct roles and skills separated out to analyze. Even in deciding which role I would fit best, I thought about the following quote: “While the skill sets of strategist, lobbyist, and communications person are often rolled into one person. The theory postulates, however, that merging several skill sets within one person is never the preferred option for a successful advocacy effort.” I thought about every nonprofit I’ve worked at and the scarcity of the industry that so often undercuts effective advocacy and change.
While at first I gravitated towards the all-encompassing strategist, I wondered how much of that was out of habit from having multiple overlapping roles rolled into one from years of nonprofit work. When digging deeper, the communications director role is most interesting to focus on to me. In reading this and Criminal Justice Reform Strategy, it’s important to not overlook how important narrative and, ultimately, storytelling are to shaping public perception, and how public perception pushes and shapes legislative change.
• The current political window represents a substantial opportunity to advance smart policy reform packages at the state and county level
• But based on what types of state legislative reforms will be feasible within the current political climate, a 25% reduction in incarceration over ten years in a given state would be about as impressive a win as we would expect to see
• Wide agreement in the field that to achieve the kinds of reforms that will result in reductions beyond 25%, the space of what is politically possible will need to be significantly expanded, including: Shifting norms around when, why, how of criminal justice system + lowering public’s tolerance for incarceration
The Movement for Black Lives has caused important and helpful shifts in how the public thinks and talks about race and criminal justice, but much more is needed to turn the public against mass incarceration, BUT public support for significant changes to the existing justice system is unlikely to come without a persuasive vision of what could replace the functions of mass incarceration. So much of that comes from understanding and pushing the public narrative to create that change.