Step-by-Step – What more is needed in criminal justice reform

IMG_0380

Last week SPA co-sponsored Leadership in Action: Criminal Justice Reform, an event hosted by The Hill. I participated in the event, representing SPA, and gave remarks highlighting the overwhelming bipartisan support we saw last year when Congress passed the First Step Act. I followed the conversation when Congress was working on criminal justice reform, and while I’m glad all the talk on the Hill resulted in the passage of new legislations, I hope that the First Step Act is just that, a first step.

Continue reading “Step-by-Step – What more is needed in criminal justice reform”

Reframing our perception of young people in the juvenile justice system

I believe in art! I see it as a powerful tool whether used in teaching, as I’ve seen first-hand through the eyes of my good friend, Sara, who is an art teacher in a DC elementary school, or as I experienced this week during a remarkable photo exhibit, by Richard Ross, which focuses on juvenile injustice.

As I looked at the photos of young people not much older than my daughter, incarcerated and isolated I wondered: is it possible to reframe our perception IMG_20190205_160355of young people in the juvenile justice system to see them as young adolescents who are still developing, instead of, in a discriminatory manner, labeling and incarcerating them as offenders for adolescent behavior –ultimately causing irreparable harm?

Continue reading “Reframing our perception of young people in the juvenile justice system”

The Leadership Legacy of President George H.W. Bush

Former President George HW BushWith former President George H.W. Bush’s funeral this week, my thoughts have turned towards leadership again. I’ve been inspired by his leadership style throughout the years since it seems to be themed around the person. I’m from the South, so the art of weaving conversation through work, personal, and even political is something I cherish. Bush also seems to understand that a personal touch is crucial to leading effectively.

Continue reading “The Leadership Legacy of President George H.W. Bush”

Thankful for the Right to Vote: Ensuring Returning Citizens Have the Right Also

Vote

Every year when November comes, I immediately think of Thanksgiving and what I am thankful for. This year, November also means midterm elections and exercising our right to vote. I recognize, though, that not everyone is able to participate in this essential part of our democratic process whether it is due to misinformation, cumbersome voter registration laws, or felony disenfranchisement laws. Being able to vote allows us to share our voice and help shape the direction of this country. Breaking down the barriers to voting is critical to making sure all voices are heard. That is why this year, I am so thankful that Florida voters passed Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to more than one million citizens with a felony conviction.

Continue reading “Thankful for the Right to Vote: Ensuring Returning Citizens Have the Right Also”

New Beginnings – Fun and Stressful at the Same Time

packinglargeThis month is full of new beginnings for JPO and for me. JPO is packing up and cleaning out, preparing for an office reconfiguration. We’ve grown and changed over the last two years and so have our needs. We’re losing our library and conference room to create more office space to house our growing team of experts and leaders—but isn’t everything online now, anyway, and, really, who meets in person anymore? Continue reading “New Beginnings – Fun and Stressful at the Same Time”

All I need to know about parenting, I’ve learned in my criminal justice career

Kim blog photoHappy summer! As I get ready to go on vacation and summer break with my awesome daughter Claire, I can’t help but think about parenting. I love being a parent. Honestly, I was a little surprised by how natural it felt when I became one, and it remains so to this day. But don’t mistake natural for easy. Parenting is not easy.

Some of the best parenting lessons I’ve learned are actually those I’ve taken from studying and teaching best practices in criminal justice reform. Sound funny? But think about it. A lot of parenting is about teaching children to make good choices and helping them change bad behaviors. As a parent, you teach your kids how to problem solve, be polite, and respect social norms, and you also teach them that choices have consequences.

Continue reading “All I need to know about parenting, I’ve learned in my criminal justice career”

The Perfect Recipe for Problem-Solving Courts

CureStigmaLogo

My first job after law school was in Pulaski County, Arkansas, as a special assistant prosecuting attorney in a problem-solving court that saw mental health and substance misuse clients who were a danger to themselves or others. At the time, I had never heard of a problem-solving court and was surprised by how the judge ran the court. It wasn’t like anything I’d seen on Law & Order. And yes, unfortunately, that was my only reference to an operating court after graduating from law school. The judge, Mary Spencer McGowan, ran a tight docket and was a no-nonsense judge, but she taught me more about humanity in the justice system, second chances, and procedural fairness than any other influence in my career. Continue reading “The Perfect Recipe for Problem-Solving Courts”

The Language of Second Chances

Photo of handsNo one deserves to be labeled for the rest of their lives for an act they did at their lowest or toughest moment, I’ve heard many say recently when talking about reentry. Colleagues in the criminal justice system have been talking about reentry initiatives for nearly two decades, and yet our successes are hit and miss. We still have a long way to go to overcome the collateral consequences that follow too many formerly incarcerated individuals when they return home.

Continue reading “The Language of Second Chances”