‘Washington Post’ Criminal Justice Summit Considers Opportunities for Reform

September 28, 2016


washington_postAs someone who was once incarcerated, Khalil Cumberbatch knows that the things many people miss while behind bars may not be what one might expect.

“Many people that I’ve met in maximum security prisons want to … be involved with their community; they want to be taxpayers; they want to be able to drop their kids off and pick them up from school,” he said at the Washington Post’s Criminal Justice Summit in Washington, DC, this month. “Second chances matter.”

Now the training manager at JustLeadershipUSA—a nonprofit focused on empowering people affected by incarceration to drive policy reform—Cumberbatch spoke at the summit alongside policymakers, prosecutors, advocates, and other people currently or formerly involved with the justice system. The event brought together diverse perspectives on reentry, sentencing, and other areas of criminal justice reform.

Echoing Attorney General Lynch’s sentiments, Sheriff Daron Hall of Nashville, Tennessee, emphasized the need for more treatment and diversion options for people with mental illnesses, noting that approximately 3 out of every 10 people arrested in Nashville each day have a mental illness.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R–VA) noted that the House Judiciary Committee and representatives from both sides of the aisle have been working on at least 11 criminal justice bills, including the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2015 and the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act.

Malika Saada Saar, senior counsel on civil and human rights at Google, highlighted Google’s commitment to hiring people with criminal records and discussed the need for sentencing reform at the state level in addition to federal legislation.

“We have put a lot of importance in bearing witness to who formerly incarcerated Americans really are and to having that important dialogue across our divides,” Saar said.

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