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.


    – There is an important conversation we need to have as a community about justice and punishment. Mariame Kaba questions whether justice collectively for George Floyd is seeing Chauvin convicted and incarcerated. How do we achieve transformative change in this instance? In the current system we live in, where Black and Brown folks are incarcerated daily before even receiving a trial – what message does it send if we don’t push for punishment?
    – The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act does not effectively address the issues of policing and Floyd’s murder. This section of the interview with Mariame Kaba was enlightening. It revealed how policy makers can co-opt movements to create transformational change and dilute them to be palatable to those in power. It also addressed how policy can be an ineffective tool to create change.
    – The myths section of “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie” was very eye-opening. The small section about community supervision is extremely relevant to current conversations around the closure of California’s Division of Juvenile Justice. County juvenile probation departments were given almost full control to create the plans to close youth prisons and communities have had to push back against the expansion of probation in order to create local continuums of care. Probation and parole don’t provide the services folks need to reenter society, they create a presumption of guilt and further traumatize our youth.


    “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2020”
    My last two semesters at USC have consisted of only social justice classes, so the topic of mass incarceration is not something that is new to me, as I have done extensive research. Even with all the research I have done, it does not make reading the statistics easier. Overall, the most striking thing is seeing how the less fortunate are taken advantage of because they can not obtain good counsel or post bond. Another sentence that stuck out to me was, “at least 1 in 4 people who go to jail will be arrested again within the same year — often those dealing with poverty, mental illness, and substance use disorders, whose problems only worsen with incarceration”. We have seen that prisons have traumatized more than it has rehabilitated people.

    “How To Give an Elevator Pitch (With Examples)”
    This was a very helpful article, as it helps you understand productive ways to market yourself. Networking is the key to getting into so many doors, and first impressions are everything. I have been working on my LinkedIn profile, so I will be sure to implement a lot of what was mentioned here.


    Mass Incarceration
    This article displayed such a depth of understanding to the systems and how our communities of color have fallen short within the justice system. To be honest, this whole article created “wow” moments for me, but one that stuck out was the 1,000 Native american youth in the psychiatric evaluation. With our Native healing methods come to mind and how our youth are not given their ancestral birthright of connecting. I have so many questions that follow these kids and why this is not being talked about within our Indigenous healing circles that work with restorative justice.

    Hope is a discipline: Mariame Kaba
    She speaks with an understanding that truly represents all communities of color and the impact our voices can have. With everything happening within our nation right now and the truth she expressed regarding George Floyd, spoke the words right out of my heart.

    How to give an elevator pitch
    These points work well for every aspect of your life that you will need to present yourself, I had many meetings today and really tried to keep these points in mind.

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