Welcome to Shades of Freedom, from The Aspen Institute Criminal Justice Reform Initiative. This podcast amplifies and uplifts promising efforts aimed at reducing mass incarceration, and examines the ecosystem of related inequalities that surrounds and perpetuates it. Fortunately, there’s a movement underway to re-imagine what the justice system could be. This podcast will feature many of the people working on changing this system, from policymakers to activists, and from returning citizens to systems leaders. Our discussions will be wide-ranging, from the school-to-confinement pipeline, to alternatives to incarceration, to policing, to sentencing, to prosecutorial reform to incarceration, to reentry and how all of this intersects with other community systems (such as education, health, housing and more). Today’s world seeks more than reform; it demands transformation. Our guests on Shades of Freedom personify this ideal.
Beyond Crisis Response: Health and Justice
On this episode of "Shades of Freedom", we take a look at the intersections of the health care system and the justice system. For many communities, both systems rely on emergency or crisis response approaches, which can lead to unhealthy, and unjust, results for individual and neighborhoods. What is justice within health care? What would constitute health within the justice system? We’re joined by Tasha Blackmon, President and CEO of Cherry Health, a major provider of health services in Grand Rapids, MI, for a view into what it means to create health justice in one mid-sized American city.
Restoring Rights and Clearing Records
We don’t make it easy for returning citizens to restart their lives. Though they’ve done their time, a whole host of federal, state and local laws – not to mention the discriminatory practices of private employers and landlords, for example – stand in the way of finding a new footing and starting afresh. Sheena Meade, currently the Executive Director of the Clean Slate Initiative, has focused her career on supporting formerly incarcerated people to get the second chance they deserve.
Local Justice Journalism
Daniel Nichanian discusses the national importance of local reporting and local elections on justice reform, how the financial challenges of local journalism play into this, and what he’s seeing across the country now as voters make choices about electing local justice leaders.
Turning Pain Into Purpose
LaTonya A. Tate didn’t intentionally start on a career path to put herself on the Birmingham, Alabama, City Council, to be the Chair of its Public Safety Committee, but she has found herself where she needs to be right now. Please join us as we talk with Councilor Tate about her remarkable path, and how she wields power—and hope—to make change possible.
Can We Depolarize Justice Reform?
There seems to be more space—and less overlap—between conservatives and liberals on every topic these days, but justice transformation may be an exception. Is there some common ground, even common underlying values, that the different sides could come together around? Join us for a conversation with Marc Levin, Chief Policy Counsel at the Council on Criminal Justice, and founder of the Texas Right on Crime initiative, on finding middle ground on topics such as incarceration’s impact on fundamental rights, the role of restorative justice, and perhaps even agreement on shifting some current police responsibilities to other entities.
Survivors Choose Healing and Restoration
When offered the choice, violence survivors will choose restorative justice over prison time for those responsible. In the case of the nonprofit Common Justice, 90% of survivors of violent crimes agree to meet with the responsible party, and allow alternative punishments to time in prison.
Common Justice’s founder, Danielle Sered, joins us in conversation about the remarkable work of this nonprofit and the people – both survivors and responsible persons – whose lives have been impacted, and how such alternatives meet the deep, underlying needs of survivors for more meaningful closure. Sered also discusses alternatives to policing, and how these too can offer communities, long harmed by the justice system, the chance to heal and find safety on their own terms.