tv Incarceration Criminal Justice System CSPAN March 2, 2018 9:02am-12:06pm EST
we removed were ones who had refused to negotiate with the federal government, so agents called a treaty council and asked people to meet at this village in twin lakes, indiana and our ancestors had to walk 660 miles from our homeland in northern indiana to a new reservation in kansas. >> and sunday at 2:00 p.m. on american history tv on c-span3 working with our cable affiliates as we explore america. over the next three hours a series of conversations on incarceration and the justice stipulate. we'll hear from senate judiciary committee members corey booker and mike lee along with connecticut governor dan malloy, writers and former inmates. this is hosted by the atlantic
magazine. [ applause ] thank you, thank you. i would like to start off with a poem. it is called "the greatest about me. ""southeast d.c. where the curtains are bed sheets, bad examples with good examples, lacks of glamour, that they never mention. the pain, trauma and a jail sentence. i was a part of a life where no one gets to win. the visions of my youth is where it all began. a ladder roams our label right. so how was i supposed to know i was wrong? never positive just gangster songs. i was strung along. praised for being the boldest, big and bad. that's right, being mad. but how could you tell me that i'm super young and i need proper guidance? no one hears your cries to be taught the right things as they call it. so i did what was wrong. but i thought it was right. i went to prison singing the same song as the ones before me,
baited in by the foolery, money and jewelry. it all started in greater southeast. that's the end of my poem. and now i'm basically is a little insight on what led to my incarceration as a juvenile. i was incarcerated at a very young age, and i served five years in federal prison. it helped me discover who i am, and it was kind of therapeutic to me. it was like a release when i felt a certain emotion or whatever, i isolated myself and just write or read, you know. and that helped me say being a great poet ambassador for free minds book club. it's a nonprofit in washington, d.c. and i start off as once i came home, i started off as apprentice to the program and now work full-time in the office. and i go from school to school.
if you're aware of the d.c. area, i go to school like cesar chavez and truesdale, things of that nature. if not, it is elementary schools if you are not from the d.c. area. i go to outreaches talking to kids, trying to get them to understand that there is a better way, you know. don't listen and let what you see in your everyday life influence you to do the wrong, wrong things. that's basically what i do on my day-to-day life. i made my mistakes as a young person, but helping and being a part of the solution to, you know decrease -- [ applause ] >> thank you. >> thank you. thank you very much. >> thank you so much, james allen. that poem that james just read was written just for all of you here today, and we thought that
it would be meaningful to begin the day with poetry capturing the experience of a young man from southeast behind bars and beyond. so thank you, thank you. good morning and welcome, everybody. i'm margaret low. i'm president of atlantic live, which is the events division of "the atlantic" magazine. and we bring people together to talk about some of the weightiest issues of our time. and we think the conversation this morning about criminal justice certainly fits that bill. this morning's gathering is the third in our defining justice series. we kicked off in oklahoma last fall in oklahoma city. we were looking at why oklahoma sends more women to prison at a higher rate than any other state in the country. after that, we were in l.a. to consider how media and entertainment influence how we think about incarceration. and today, the last in our three-part series, we're in washington, and we're going to explore the policy landscape and also hear about conditions of confinement affect women and children involved with the system.
before we get rolling, i do want to thank google. they made today's event and the defining justice series possible. thank you so much to google for that. [ applause ] i have a few very basic practical notes before we get started. please silence your cell phones. but as we like to say, don't put them away because we'd love you to join the conversation on twitter. we are at atlantic live. the #is the hashtag is defining justice. after each session, we're going to make sure we have time for your questions. we will begin this morning with senator mike lee. he is a republican from utah. he serves on the senate judiciary committee and is a co-sponsor of the sentencing and corrections reform act. among other things, that act would roll back mandatory minimum sentences and require educational and therapeutic sentences in federal prisons. please welcome senator lee. he is here. [ applause ]
welcome, senator. and he is here with my colleague, atlantic executive editor matt thompson. take it away, gentlemen. [ applause ] >> thank you very much. thank you, margaret. thank you, senator lee for joining us this morning, and thanks to all of you. senator, your last book, "our lost constitution" was an argument that america has created a large governmental bureaucracy that has in effect taken over some of the law making functions that were in america's original design reserved to congress. and that shunted aside in so doing the constitutional protections for americans, the constitutional limits on the government's power. as we speak, one in four people that is imprisoned around the world is imprisoned in the u.s. what is the constitutional failure do you think? does that reflect the
constitutional failure? does that reflect the misunderstanding of what the constitution says the government is supposed to do? and if so, what is the misunderstanding? what was the failure there? >> i think there is an argument to be made that is one of many manifestations of our drift away from some of the fundamental protections in constitution, what i call the structural protections. the vertical protection we call federalism that says most of the government should remain with the states and close to the people where it can be turned around and where it can reflect local preferences. and then the horizontal protection, what we call separation of powers that says we're going to have one branch, congress that makes the laws. another branch headed by the president to enforce the laws. the third branch headed by the supreme court that interprets the laws. when each function of government is allowed to perform only within its design sphere, you have government more account to believe the people. we have drifted from that. it's maybe more of an attenuated connection, especially given
that we've got a lot more people incarcerated under state authority than federal authority. but i think we have a whole lot more people incarcerated under federal authority than we should. our federal prison population alone has increased about 900% since the early 1980s. this does not in my opinion reflect a 900% increase in the crime rate. it instead reflects a few trends in the law that i find disturbing. the overcriminalization of the law in this country, the overfederalization of criminal law, and the excessive use of often excessive minimum mandatory penalties within the system. >> you have been and part of the reasons you joined us here this morning is you have been an active voice on especially federal sentencing reform. you co-sponsored a bill by senator chuck grassley to address federal sentencing reform, to try to reduce some of the mandatory minimums that federal prosecutors can apply in sentencing.
now, this has been an area that for the past few years has seemed to be moving towards a rare instance of bipartisan consensus. and your bill reflects that. within the senate judiciary committee, your sentencing bill drew votes from both democratic committee members and republican committee members. however, there were a few holdouts, including yours and your colleague from utah senator orrin hatch. what was -- what is the disagreement? what was the disagreement within the committee? what were the problems? why? who on earth at this moment is trying to keep mandatory minimums as having as much as a role in the system as they do and why? >> without speaking for any one colleague, i usually try to avoid being anyone else's spokesman. >> so senatorial. >> but i can speak certainly in
generalities about those in my party who express opposition. one of the things i hear from my republican colleagues is i don't believe we have an overincarceration problem. some of them will go so far to say if anything we have an underincarceration problem. i don't find that persuasive at all. >> they say he we should have one in three prisoners? >> perhaps. or maybe all of us should be in there in a sense. i don't know. not all of them feel that way. others will take a more nuanced approach and say i could support this, but i want additional reforms in there. if you could throw in mens rea reform, requiring a certain level of intent as a federal threshold matter on federal criminal offenses. and i understand that. my response to that one is this doesn't deal with substantive offenses as much as it deals with the terms of sentencing and incarceration. that's more appropriate to address elsewhere. this has been an issue that has been building over time.
when i first got to the senate after being elected in 2010, i decided i wanted to work on this. it was difficult thing to start initially. i started looking for allies on the judiciary committee. and i got together with dick durbin. dick durbin is a liberal democrat from illinois. i've never been described as a liberal democrat or as democrat for that matter. he and i see eye to eye on this issue and the need for reform. and so we put together something called the smarter sentencing act. and that got a little support. and we decided we wanted to expand it. we got together with chairman grassley. and ironed out a series of compromises and put together the sentencing reform and corrections act. that passed out of the judiciary committee by a bipartisan super majority vote of 16-5 just two weeks ago. and so we're making progress on this. and this could be a big bipartisan win if we would just bring to it the senate floor. >> yes. and there is one key -- there
are a few key actors in addition to some of the holdouts in the senate committee. it passed with flying colors and passed the committee and has many proponents in the broader senate. but the white house has had an uncertain posture on this bill. and i'm curious if you could take us for a moment into a room that many of us don't get to be in for a while. you spent some time with the white house, with attorney general jeff sessions who described this bill itself as a grave mistake. what's the flavor of that disagreement? why -- what has the cooperation with what messages are you getting from the white house and what cooperation do you expect looking forward on these issues? >> so far we've had enthusiasm expressed from the white house on title 2 of the sentencing reform and corrections act and not title 1. let me explain what that means. title one deals with sentencing reform and makes some necessary adjustments to some of our minimum mandatory sentencing laws.
title 2 deals with some reform programs, what we call the back end reform or reentry reform, helping to reform current federal inmates for their reintroduction into society so that they're ready to go. they've got some job skills, and they're less likely to recidivate after they get out. the white house has been more warm to title 2 than to title 1. i still hold out hope because i still think this is good policy. and i think it's very difficult to argue against either title 1 or title 2. i think they're best put forward together. >> and part of that hope, as i understand it as an outsider rests somewhat on within the white house. jared kushner, the senior white house adviser has made sentencing reform among his bailiwicks. and i hear that as of last night john kelly has cleared aside some part of his foreign policy portfolio. so he has more time perhaps to apply to criminal justice.
how has it been -- what has mr. kushner's engagement on the issue been from your perspective? >> jared has a lot of very refreshing ideas. he's also got a refreshing amount of intellectual curiosity. he likes to learn about issues like this. and he asks a lot of good questions. he has a lot of enthusiasm as a reformer. so i've appreciated the opportunity to work with him. >> so i want to turn for a moment to the policy itself, to sentencing reform as one aspect of the broad problem i think it's fair to say of incarceration in the u.s. and its spread. some would say that sentencing reform, and especially federal sentencing reform is kind of nibbling around the edges of the scale of the problem, that
because relatively -- a relatively small percentage of those under correctional observation in the u.s. are federal prisoners, now this is where the matter of women is most directly affected, of course. half of drug offenders that are imprisoned at the federal level are women. but it's still a small number being imprisoned in the country overall. most are in state and local prisons. so what would you say to the argument that federal sentencing reform is kind of small ball? >> it's a little bit like saying -- i don't want to take the analogy too far, but if you look it up, a mile-long train. the engine of the train is a very small train, but it's what's driving the train. in some respects, the federal system might be driving the states. some of the states will look to federal law as a model in some instances. in other instances, you'll
actually see state prosecutors or local prosecutors interacting with their federal counterparts and deciding which entity will take a prosecution in a particular instance, depending on which one is likely to produce a longer sentence. it might be one of the reasons we've seen such an uptick in the federal prison population in recent decade series because that sort of thing has been happening. they see a longer sentence likely at the end of federal prosecution, the case is likely going to go federal. so, yeah, even though this is a small segment of the overall incarcerated population in the united states, it is an important population. most importantly for my purposes as a federal lawmaker, it's the area that i'm supposed to focus on. so i'm going to try to reform this one, hoping and expecting and so far frankly seeing that as we do this, we interest more legislative bodies in states to undertake similar reforms. >> is there a risk in the other
direction that if the -- if you do achieve a bipartisan success, legislation passes on sentencing reform, that it in essence makes a broader set of policies on incarceration less possible down the line, that it limits the political will to come back to the subject and address some of the other areas that are where there might still be problems? >> perhaps if it backfired that might be the result. i don't think it's going to, though. i think if we were to pass the sentencing reform and corrections act, i think we would see some very favorable outcomes. that's why i'm very optimistic about the future for criminal justice reform. i think something like this passing is inevitable. i want to see it happen sooner rather than later. i would like to see us pass it this year. and i think we would see the fruits from that. i think they would be favorable and beneficial. and i think it would bring about
more reform in this area that's needed. >> i want to turn for a moment to the matter of the public and public opinion. we are having this conversation at a moment where there is broad agreement among americans that the size of the american incarceration state has grown too large, and that we should explore alternatives to prison for some of society's ills that previously were construed as criminal. now this happens at a moment when crime in america, violent property crime, drug crime is at a decades low, still. every year we see a few headlines about potential spikes in some cities. but by and large, crime now in the u.s. is far lower than it was at the peak when several mandatory minimums and harsh sentencing guidelines were put in place. what if that picture changes?
what if this goes the other way, like in the '80s we stand possibly on the precipice. we are amidst a huge drug epidemic again? there is an argument -- some are arguing that criminal penalties should be a solution to apply to that situation as well. what if law and order and tough on crime begins to get purchase in public opinion? do you think that these -- the successes so far in achieving bipartisan consensus in this are at risk? >> with a representative government, it is hard for me to see it going in that direction. i don't see the will among the american people, the desire among the american people to say, yes, we have got this problem and the answer is more cowbell, add more fuel to this very fire. a friend of mine used to say when you're holding a hammer,
everything starts to look like a nail. and thing is grave danger in that when it comes to the criminal justice system. if we see the government is wielding only one tool to combat the problem, the problem being broadly defined as crime generally are or broadly defined as drug-related crimes, i think that we are going to cause problems. i think that we have caused problems to the extent that we have done that. i visited a place recently in salt lake city called the other side academy. it's modelled after a recovery home called delancey street that started out in san francisco and branched out and opened up another location in los angeles. they have had tremendous success with taking people who have served time, who have had problems with the law, and often problems with substances, and they work together and hold each other accountable and keep each other clean and off of the
streets and focused on gaining job skills and on becoming contributing members of the community once again. they've had tremendous success. they've been in operation now -- they're in their third year in salt lake city. and so far they have had a 100% success rate. this is not a government operation. but in some instances, it's been used as an alternative to incarceration. there are some judges who have allowed people to go through this program rather than going and being incarcerated for a period of time. i think we need to look more at solutions like that if we really want to solve this problem. this is best understood as a human problem. and we have to examine not just the financial costs of lengthy mass incarceration, but also the human costs. the problems arise when somebody's son or daughter or mother or sister or aunt or uncle is put away behind bars
not just for years, but for decades at a time. there is a significant human cost attached to that. and i think we're reaping some of that. and that's why we need to look to other tools. >> in a moment i'm going turn to the audience for a question. and first i wanted to ask about separate but related matter. i would be remiss given our moment and that we are still in the aftermath of the tragic shooting last week in parkland, florida, at marjory stoneman douglas school in florida, there is one path has been endorsed by the nra to fix an act that is intended essentially to strengthen some of the incentives around reporting gun purchases to the federal government. and it has a fair amount given that it is endorsed by the nra. it has a fair amount of support from across the aisle, as it were. but you don't support this measure. and tell me a little bit about
your objection to it. >> i'm trying to reform it. i'm trying to fix it. i'm trying to fix fix nics. there is a fairly simple fix that i have drafted there are some others available out there. let me explain briefly what this does. the nics system is a system that alerts when someone is buying a gun that shouldn't be trying to buy a gun because they fit under one of the nine categories that are identified in usg-3, people who have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor crime or domestic violence are, dishonorably discharged from the military or one of the other nine categories. among those nine categories is some language put in there i believe by mistake by congress. someone who has been adjudicated a mental defective. the problem with that is it's not a thing. no one really knows what that is. and the concern there is that you could have among other people veterans who are returning with ptsd, somebody in the veterans affairs administration has identified
them as having ptsd and given them assistance managing their affairs in order to help them with that. they could be deemed by a combination of action by the v.a. and a regulation put out by the atf to have been adjudicated a mental defective and therefore deprived of their rights. now that may seem like a simple problem to correct, but once you do that and a culture develops among veterans where they're afraid to get help upon their return, you could end up with some real problems. you do not want returning veterans refusing to get treatment or help from the v.a. simply because they fear that they might be stripped of their right to carry that which they've been asked to carry in defense of their country. i'm trying to fix that i think we can get to a fix on it. but it does need to be repaired. >> let me turn a question from the audience. right over there, i think.
>> hi, senator. thank you for being here today. i have a question related to -- >> please quickly identify yourself. >> my name is anna and i work with the public defender service here in d.c. and i have a question actually related to what you just mentioned with mental disabilities. i know in the past year congress passed an act that allowed people that were severely mentally incapacitated to -- people that have other people, for example managing their benefits, that used to be a prohibition that you couldn't go and get a gun. but congress passed a law that allowed people like this to get a gun. i see your example about veterans and i understand that. but when we're facing a culture of mass shootings in the united states, how can we both address the very real mental health issues that exist while also making sure that people like that are not capable of owning
and purchasing a weapon? >> yeah, yeah. it's a fair question. and first of all, thank you for what you do. public defenders perform such a valuable role in our society. and i appreciate what you do. >> i'm sure she'll remember that in the appropriations process. >> yes, yes. exactly. [ laughter ] i think it is important to make sure that people who should not have a gun don't get one, including people who have violent tendencies or propensities, people who are mentally insane, anyone who has been adjudicated, for instance, as unfit to stand trial, not guilty by reason of insanity, someone who has been committed to an insane asylum or has been deemed by a court of competent jurisdiction to be a harm to themselves or a harm to others. so that's what we're trying to
tweak there is we want to make sure that there is a definition behind that rather than this broad term of "adjudicated as a mental incompetent." to conflate that with someone who is returning home having served in the armed forces with ptsd and who needs help managing their affairs, that is not the same as somebody who has truly been adjudicated as someone who is a harm to themselves or a harm to others. we've got to make sure there is due process in that. it's also helpful, i think, to rely on what a number of states have been using. and i think we need to examine our federal laws to figure out whether we should supplement federal law with what something like a number of states have adopted in the area of domestic violence restraining orders. when a close family member sees something in another person that they cause -- that causes them
to believe that they could be a threat to someone else. they ought to be able to report them to the authorities. and at least for a period of time until they can get it worked out. have that person put on the list of people who are unable to acquire or possess firearms. >> senator lee, thank you for your answer. it's been -- >> thank you. >> a great start to our morning. and enjoy the rest. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator lee. and thank you, matt. connecticut governor dannel malloy has led the way on justice reform efforts in his state since he took office in 2011. before entering politics, he was a federal prosecutor. and during his tenure as governor, the state has ended the death penalty, changed the bail system, reduced sentences for drug possession, and made it easier for nonviolent offenders to apply for a pardon or for parole. i'm grateful that governor malloy got up i'm told by him at
4:00 a.m. this morning in hartford, connecticut to be here with thus morning in washington, d.c. thank you, governor, to talk to my great colleague, steve clemons, washington editor at large. >> hey, everybody, good morning. good morning. >> everyone. you know, i'm really grateful that all of you are here there are so many people here and in the other room. i know we have croissants for you. when we come to questions, ask them. you're putting in time here. let's make this fun and interesting for everybody. governor, thank you for joining us. isn't it kind of strange that you hear a senator from utah who might make a great candidate for the governor of connecticut. i mean you guys sound so much on the same page. >> not on the last part. >> i just want to ask you, though, we were talking in the green room about the hard choices you had to make as governor during your tenure. and i know you're leaving in january of this next year. you're giving up this position. and you have taken the state in some very interesting directions on sentence reform, on prison reform. and i mention the hard choices
you were talking about. are any of them in this arena? >> i think the they think we've done in arena are relatively easy. because they're, you know, they're smart. they're based on science as opposed to perception. and we have learned in connecticut and elsewhere what works and what doesn't work. so i think this has been relatively easy to propose. you know, some of the proposals i've made haven't been enacted in my own state but actually have been enacted in other states, which is interesting. but no, the criminal justice reform is the smart thing. >> you know, i was reading a lot about you in the last couple of days. and one of the features that came out was your wife cathy. and in particular, there was this discussion of confidence conference you organized. you did a conference called redefining justice. you reached out to the koch brothers, the koch foundation to
help fund it. and kathy just comes through the pages as someone who at a human level really into this. what's going on there? >> first and foremost, we're partners. we met on april 6th, 1974 at a party in brighton, massachusetts. >> you i know the minute and hour? >> pretty much. and, you know, my body of work and her body of work have been in tandem from the very get-go. i think one of the most extraordinary things about my wife is she is mentoring a person who -- a woman who was incarcerated for 23 years for as you might imagine, a very serious offense. we take this to heart. we talk about criminal justice reform and justice generally in our daily conversations. it's part of who we are. >> so i'm trying to understand how you've approached this ecosystem. you just made a comment about it being logical, it being science. it is very political in a sense that when you begin laying off
workers in your prison system, which connecticut has been doing, 180 workers you've laid off recently. you've got declining room, declining beds, or -- i shouldn't say beds, but declining incarsees i should say. and you've succeeded on a recidivism in four different areas. when we were in oklahoma recently with mary fallon, the governor of oklahoma, she gave much the same line. i am interested in the degree in which your example, the frame that you have if there connecticut is what we're seeing in oklahoma, what we're seeing in south dakota, we're seeing in a lot of red states as well. and what are the similarities that you're finding as you talk to governors about what the buttons are to push? >> first and foremost, i hope we're pushing it a little bit further than other folks. i think that the science of human development, particularly with respect to young adults, people between the ages of 18 and 25 most particularly, where we've actually started units in prison specifically tending to
the needs and quite frankly some of the possibilities of that age group are very significant. i think criminal justice reform can be driven because you want to save money or it can be driven because you want to save lives. i'm -- i'm in that group. >> right. >> and i want -- i think it makes little sense to send people who you don't have to send to prison where they're likely to get an advanced degree in criminal behavior. and i think, you know, as a former trial attorney, as a former prosecutor in new york city, i saw too many judges send people to jail because they were frustrated with this young person who appeared before them. not because the crime itself required necessarily that that person be incarcerated, but frustration took over and then all of the sudden you open up this opportunity for a lifetime of criminal behavior. you asked a specific question. are there similarities between folks who simply want the save
money and those who want the save lives? there are similarities. but i think there are separate motivations. i think every wasted soul is just that. i think every damaged individual because of incarceration who really didn't need to be incarcerated wasn't in their or society's best interest is a potential problem for society to deal with on a much longer term basis with respect to employment and cost of benefits because they can't get employment and forced involved in future criminal endeavors because we do have gang communities in some of our state prisons. we've got to be careful about this stuff. we've got to be more careful about this stuff. >> how many -- i mean, i'm sort of interested in how you talk about the justice system or the judge being frustrated with the person being sentenced or dealt with. and what comes to mind right now is i -- and i am just reading some things about you.
how bigoted is the prison system in connecticut? >> i hope less than other places. >> but when you talk about the behavior of someone who has committed some crime, part of that frustration, what you're saying is that judge is allowing other factors than the crime to come in. and when you look at the massive incarceration of blacks, of hispanics and others in the system. how do you undo that? >> listen, i talk about race all the time. because i think that it does represent this great lasting divide in american society. it's one of the lines of that great divide. i'm not accusing people who sentence people to jail because they're frustrated with racism, although it may have disproportionate impacts on a black community versus a white community. but what i really want to get at the heart of is we need to have more opportunities to deal with -- particularly young people, young offenders than we
currently have. and if we create those additional opportunities, then we're likely to have better long-term results as opposed to simply managing someone's life for the next 30, 90, 120 days or three years. i think we simply can do better when we use the science of brain development and maturation to our advantage as opposed to our disadvantage. >> and i was also noticing again on the gender issue that in connecticut, your declining prison population the percentage of men is down 20%. the percentage of women is down 7%. why the gap? >> i think there are societal reasons. i think that criminal behavior has become more universal as opposed to less universal. but i also think that we were not paying as much attention. we have one woman's prison. and i think that now that we are paying more attention to that
prison, and quite frankly a very gifted corrections commissioner in scott semple, we're going to drive that population down. i think we're actually now getting closer to 10%. the male population is down about 21, 22% since i became governor. we are -- we can within the next administration, whoever will be governor have actually halved our prison population based on kwurnt projections using crime statistics, recidivism statistics. we're in good shape to do some of these things. now it cost us $168 a night to house somebody. we can use that money more effectively in other arenas, including addressing some of the underlying traumas. women in prison are more likely to be drug or alcohol-dependent, statistically. certainly have suffered as many if not more traumas. and those traumas are frequently
as a result of spousal or familial abuse, including a rape. so we're dealing with a very difficult audience of people, perhaps more difficult in women's prisons than male prisons given those traumas, those sets of traumas and behaviors. >> one of the questions we have, we've seen -- >> which simply means we have to work harder, and we should work harder. >> a lot of our news right now is focused on the tragedy in parkland, students standing up and having for a very, very different gun environment, different sort of stewardship in states. this is a real tragedy. i guess in anticipation, i wanted to ask you really a question about the resiliency of the reforms you had. if nikolas cruz had been in stanford, if this had unfolded in connecticut, what would be happening as you were responding to this? and would it be harder or easier to stand by this science and by
the results you have generated, or would you see a tsunami of reaction that we need a very different system? harsher system? >> we had that experience at sandy hook. and it did not way lay us from the overall commitment to doing a better job in criminal justice systems, including the correction portion of that system. so i've been there. >> right. >> having said that, in connecticut, based on some of the laws we changed, you couldn't buy that weapon that was used in connecticut. and that's true in seven states and the district of columbia. and what i would also say, picking up on latter part of the discussion that i just witnessed, listen, i think we -- we have to be about people recovering their access to guns
when they're healthy, i don't think that that should stop us from making sure that they don't is have access to guns when they're not healthy and therein, i think, lies the great divide. the idea that taking someone to a gun range to fire an ar-15 as part of their therapy when you're actually not treating the underlying difficulties doesn't make a whole lot of sense and don't be surprised if bad things happen as a result. >> when you're talking to gun owners, at what point putting yourself in other folks shoes, what is the line -- i know it's complicated, but what is the line where gun owners' rights ought to be in place? how do you manage that equilibrium? >> safety. a balance of safety and the second amendment. clearly, our laws have been tested in the federal courts and come back and been upheld and
that includes not allowing the sale of ar-15s. you can do this. it can go through federal court challenge and you can survive because the rights not absolute. you can't have a tank because we make tanks. you can't have a flamethrower because we make flamethrowers. you can't have a grenade because we make grenades. all of those things are types of guns. we just need a better balance in our society and when a particular weapon is become the weapon of choice and it is more like anything -- it's more like a machine gun than anything we've seen since the 1930s, in effect with a bump stock or other devices, is a machine gun. we should have a reasonable discussion about how we limit access to folks, or at least, how about this? really, this is the question that should have been asked. what's wrong with universal background checks? why had you 40% of gun sales go
unmonitored in the united states? in whose mind does that make any sense when 97% of the american people want that to happen and overwhelming, when you quiz people, they think it already happens. >> senators pat toomey and skroe manchin pushed that background check legislation in reaction to sandy hook. how disappointed are you so that so little happened after sandy hook and we're now back in another horrific tragedy? >> florida had another tragedy, in orlando, and -- i'm reminded what i said about sandy hook. this is coming to your town. this is going to happen at a theater near you or a restaurant or church or school or community college or university campus. the reality is because of the way guns change hands unregulated in the united states without regard to how lethal
they are, this is part of our societal shared experience and the reality is that we've gotten used to it, it drives -- i hope this is different. i hope it's different, but i think we're more likely to make progress on a state by state basis than you are to serve -- to change the minds of united states senators in many cases who's campaigns were underwritten by the nra or change the mind of a president who accepted $30 million towards his campaign from the nra, so that he might be elected. i noted that the president told people that he had lunch over the last weekend with representatives of the nra, some of the top leaders. i hope he picked up the lunch tab. >> i know mark holden of koch is going to be on the next panel. you've talked about a second
chance society and what you're really talking about is giving people talent out there, another opportunity after speed bumps in their lives. what do we need to do -- what do we need to turn that from being a kind of cute boutique phrase into something that's felt more broadly in a society, that there's a commitment that -- to bring people into jobs, opportunities, counseling, maybe mental health, help and support? what other eco system of this do we need to understand better than we do? >> we don't have enough time. >> take the time. >> i'll say this, that a, we should avoid crimes being committed, right? that's number one. number two, when crimes get committed by individuals we should make sound judgments about their propensity to commit other crimes or not. if someone has to be incarcerated or should be incarcerated because of the nature of the offense we have to make sure that incarceration is
for an appropriate period of time and not driven by one's race for instance. and ultimately what we need to do and one of the things we've done very, very successfully in connecticut is have people spend their time differently. we get people ready over a six to 18 months period of time to go back to society in which we reintroduce them to society in which we give them the training that they need. we make sure that they are immediately have available to them the resources necessary to be successful, particularly in the area of medical care and mental health care. if people have a history of addiction to opioids we really should -- if medically assisted treatment is the one most likely to result in positively, then that service should be established before they're released. there's just smart things you can do and, yes, we need to find more jobs. a fully employed society is going to require that we do a better job and we should take
advantage of that opportunity, but we need to forgive. we need to move on and we need to stop punishing people for things that they don't deserve to be punished any more and quite frankly, we should stop punishing ourselves because we're so invested in being a punishing society. when you find the right -- when you can balance these things appropriately, you're going to have better results and that's what i think should be driving us is, yes, people do bad things or make mistakes, they particularly do that when they're young. do you really want to penalize someone for the rest of their lives, do you really want to penalize broader society for the rest of that person's life? >> just to give us a quick snapshot. you had an experience in germany of visiting a jail and apparently it made a big impact if the atlantic article i read is accurate and i hope it is -- >> everything you read in the atlantic is accurate.
>> but that you saw in real form 3d form a correction seem not a penal system even for those that committed horrific crimes. how has that shaped your frame and what should we all understand from what you saw and experienced in this german system? >> we don't treat humans as humans if they're in prison. let that -- let that sink in. [ applause ] and as a result they are less human when they come out and i think in the german system, what you're invested in is changing behaviors and what you're invested in is keeping families intact and what you're invested in is using this opportunity for education and job training. what you're invested in, for instance, is allowing someone to leave your campus after they've
been trained for jobs, getting ready to be released so they actually maintain a job and have an experience of maintaining a job before they are fully released. negatively or positively. for the most part we have chosen to do it negatively, and this is a broader discussion about how do we do that in a positive way. how do we actually invest in change in behaviors. i referenced our true unit of one of our prisons. we are treating 18-year-olds to 25-year-olds differently than we're treating the older population. why? because the science is very clear that, particularly in the male population, that maturation continues at least to age 25. that someone at the age of 18 is more like a 16-year-old than they are a 26-year-old. and why don't we develop systems of treatment within our facilities when someone has to be incarcerated that is mindful of real science?
not guessing, not old presumptions, but is based on where people are. in the german system you have more social workers and psychologists working in the system than you have corrections officers. corrections officers are as much lending guidance on how the operation should exist on the floor that day than they are people who are themselves involved in punishing people. >> thank you. let me go to all of you. we have a question, comment, right here in the front. we've got somebody. we'll get to you. i'll get to you next. >> hi, i'm sarah briar with the national juvenile justice network. i want to thank you, governor malloy for your leadership in justice perform. we've been holding connecticut up for an example to the rest of the country for how to treat youth right. i was wondering if you can speak to connecticut's participation in the federal juvenile justice
and delinquency prevention act and how the act or what your goals are for youth justice are reform going forward. >> connecticut was late in raising the age for different treatment. and when i became governor, the law had been passed to take 16 and 17-year-olds out of the adult system and treat them differently. but i'm the guy who had to implement it, which meant i had to withstand the pressure of going back to the old system. it was the right thing to do. it moved us in the right direction, and, again, we have been very punitive -- and when you start to be punitive with respect to 16-year-olds for minor offenses or 17 or 18 or 19 or 20 or 21, it just doesn't make sense and it's not supported by the science. we know we have a much better chance of turning that behavioral pattern around at that age than we do another age. we get somebody at the age of 23 or 24, and we do that
successfully -- we transport them from having made a mistake in their life to a period of greater maturation and we do that without doing additional damage. that person is far more likely to be successful. that's what i'm doing. >> yes, hi. there you go. >> hi, governor. my name is quianna johnson, and i'm a returning citizen. you talked about the judges being some time over punishing. what is the recourse? how do you deal with it? as a society, it's becoming more prevalent. how do you deal with that? >> that's a great question. i think part of that is raising statistics, help, changing the bail system help. all of a sudden we changed our bail system so that people aren't staying in jail for the lack of a dollar or the lack of a couple hundred dollars. the damage that is done by separating an individual from
the broader society for just a matter of days -- if you live in a single room occupancy dwelling and you don't show up that day, you lose where you live. if you had a job, you lose the job. you know, so we were doing some really -- the wrong things when it came to very minor offenses for which most people would never be incarcerated anyway. 85% of people who come to the courthouse charged with a crime aren't going to do a single day of jail. so, we need to make sure that that is broadly applied to hispanic population, asian populations, black populations and caucasian populations and we need to use statistics to hold ourselves to that. >> yes, ma'am, right here. >> hi, gabiela from convergence center for policy resolution. i wanted to focus specifically on your work on reentry and also your experience as a former prosecutor. in conducting our round tables,
we've had some difficulty having prosecutors and judges understand that they have a role to play in reentry. we're very firm in the belief that reentry begins day one of the sentence. >> right. >> so, how would you suggest getting those on the front end to understand that reentry is across the spectrum? >> thank you. i think we have -- first of all, if we can help, let us know. i've got some good people working on this in connecticut and they're not just political appointees. they're part of the overall employee base of the state. happy to reach out. i think more judges are interested in this than others. i think there are prosecutors who are more interested in this than others. connecticut's violent crime rate has dropped more than any other state in the nation over the last four years. how about that one? how about the idea that good positive change actually produces better results?
that a crime prevented from happening is as important, if not more important, than catching the person who committed a crime, right? and i think there is this different way that you need to look at the criminal justice system which should be based on what the results of that system are as opposed to what the perceived goal of the system is. our goals have been wrong. if it's universal access to punishment including the broader society at great expense to itself and far worse results over the remaining life of that individual, then we need to re-examine those propositions. >> governor, just as we wrap up, i've spent some time recently with chuck robbins, he's the ceo of cisco systems and richard branson, of course, of virgin. and both of them surprised me by saying that one of the things they were committed to was -- were hiring people who had been convicts, who have come out, who
had great skills. who are some of the other heroes, if you know them, in the corporate community who are stepping out to do that? because that's also a political act in the business world and it's a risk-taking act. i'm wondering if that's part of what you think has to happen. >> there are companies in america that are doing that and won't talk about it. and that's a great shame. we need more leaders to step forward and the kochs are doing that. we don't agree on a whole lot, quite frankly. let's share that if you hadn't figured it out already. but they're helping. their leadership on this has been very, very important, and we just need more companies to step out and do this. you know, this is the way i'll put it. if i'm good enough to be a customer at your store or for your service, even though i have a criminal history, then i should be good enough to work in
your store or in your business, all right. if you want access to the millions of people who have a criminal justice involvement as your customer, then you owe it to them to treat them with respect and there's nothing more respectful than a job. that's what i would say. >> ladies and gentlemen, connecticut governor dan malloy. >> thank you. >> thank you, governor malloy. thank you, steve. we're going to go deeper now on what's next in the criminal justice policy front. with a cross-section of leading thinkers on these issues and for that i'm delighted to welcome mark holden, senior vice-president and general counsel for koch industries. welcome. holly harris is the executive director of the justice action network, a bipartisan organization whose mission is to make the justice system more effective and more cost efficient. and larry lyzer is the president
of the national association of assistant u.s. attorneys. welcome all, and welcome back my colleague matt thompson. >> thank you again, margaret. mark, holly, larry, thank you for joining us this morning. i want to start with a hard choice on you. hopefully it will come out in the wash. holly, i'm giving you an invisible magic wand. you get to choose one person, state, federal, could be -- could be xi jinping if you want to. and you can convince them of one thing. you can change their mind about one thing that they hold. who do you choose and what do you want to change their mind about? >> jeff sessions -- >> criminal justice reform. i mean, more specifically, i'd certainly love to change his mind about sentencing reform and i hope to have a robust discussion about that today. >> so, i want to ask a version
of that question to you, larry. one of the interesting parts of this conversation that we're having this morning is in many ways some of the points of tension. each of you, mark, holly, larry, each of you represents -- has been active within conservative politics and is a leader within conservative politics broadly construed. but within issues of criminal justice, incarceration, justice, many of the immediate points of tension and disagreement seem to be within a conservative coalition. and so, larry, i am curious for your thoughts on a similar question. if you could change your co-panelists' mind about one thing, what would you try to convince them of? >> probably several things, it would be hard to pick one. i'd have to say to begin, in order to keep my job as an assistant united states attorney, that nothing i say
here today should be considered the position of my office of the eastern district of virginia or the department of justice. i'm solely here as president of the national association of the assistant united states attorneys. sorry to burden you with that, but i want to stay employed. >> so, i think what i'd like to convince people of is that there's a lot of confusion in conflating the federal system of justice and the state justice system of justice. while there are problems in both systems, we should always strive as a country to make our systems of justice better and fairer, the idea that what the state system is doing is put on the federal system is just not fair to the federal system and inaccurate in many ways. so, i'd like to convince my colleagues here that they should focus where the real problem resides and the real problem i think resides not at the federal level but at the state level. it doesn't mean to say there aren't things we can do to improve the federal system of justice. there certainly are. >> we're built out in 17 states. >> particularly given in an
earlier conversation we stayed pretty much on the federal level. but state and local policy is a huge, obviously the much bigger part of this issue. but, mark, i wanted to come to you with the last version of the trifecta and i wanted to ask you, if you could change larry's mind about one thing, what would that be? >> well, you know, i haven't heard larry's position on all the different issues that we'll probably talk about, and it sounds like he left kind of crack in the door open for some reforms from what he just said. what i'd say is that we should learn a lot from the last three decades, the 1980s, 1990s. i love those decades. i had a lot of hair, could dunk a basketball, life was good. i worked in a prison back then. i was out of high school and some of my friends were locked up and their lives were ruined forever from drug offenses.
i think we've learned a lot the last two decades about what does and what doesn't work with regard to what the states are doing and how you can both reduce crime rates and reduce incarceration rates at the same time, and treat people individually and particularly when we talk about the war on drugs, there's definitely a criminal element there that needs to be dealt with, but then there is a mental health component. and then there's a public addiction, public health issue as well. we should -- a country as great as ours and system as great as ours we should be able to differentiate and i'd like to see that happen. >> i want to come back to the matter of how we define this conversation and this question. and, holly, i wanted to start with you. i'm going to ask each of you one of the advantages of conversations like this is that each of you gets it go places and talk to folks and have relationships with them that the rest of us don't get to. i want to take advantage of that for our conversation. holly, you spend a lot of time in states working with leaders
in states, working with members of your network who are advancing criminal justice policy at the state and local level. and what are you seeing -- i think particularly within conservative states, within red states, where are you seeing red states leading the way on policy prerogatives that you would just click a button and spread across the nation if you could? >> well, certainly red states have i think the most -- have had the most success with criminal justice reform. you look at a state like georgia, a state like texas, a state like kentucky. those are the states that have led the way and it's the conservative governors who are so incredibly passionate about these issues. governor matt bevin, good friend of mine, of mark's, is all over the country right now talking about the need for reform and i'll say he's probably the most aggressive governor in the united states, is governor malloy still here? he's probably the most aggressive governor in the united states on criminal justice policy. but i do want to start by talking about an issue that is
gaining momentum in the states and it's issues related to incarcerated women. last year in my home state, the male incarcerated population grew by 5%. the female side grew by 14%. and if we're not careful, we're going to have an epidemic on our hands. and one in four of those women who are currently entering our system are either pregnant or mothers to children under the age of one. so we're not just talking about an epidemic of incarcerated women, but we have to consider their children. so, we are now seeing more reforms specifically tailored to incarcerated women. i'll give a plug for my home state, senator rocky adams has a bill on the senate floor, 133. if you're on the twitter machine, say thanks to her for pushing this bill. if you get an opportunity to watch the hearing in the senate health and welfare committee which is very interesting that it didn't go through judiciary because we are now looking at this as a public health crisis and i think we should.
but if you get a chance to watch that hearing, i encourage you to do so because it was interesting. >> yeah. mark, i want to ask, you spend as the vp of koch industries, you spend a fair amount of time talking with colleagues in the corporate world, in the business world about criminal justice and you'll take this on as a business prerogative. i'm curious, what are you hearing? what is the investment from the business community in this issue? >> i mean, it's interesting. at koch, i've been with the company 23 years, for 23 years we've hired people with criminal records. in the last several years we banned the box, we removed the box from our employment application and we defer the discussion about a criminal record until we have a -- an offer of employment, conditional offer of employment out there. then we do a background check. and what we have learned through that process over the years is that a criminal record is one data point. it's basically what the eeoc said for years, that you should consider that data point. you should consider a lot of
data points in whoever you hire. that's one data point. how long ago did it happen, what was the offense, what's the person like now? and so from our experience, it's always been a positive. you need to be careful who you hire regardless of whether they have a record or not. and in the past four or five years we've been more and more vocal about it as there has been more attention put on this whole issue, criminal justice reform in particular. and most employers, we have discussions with them one at a time, they're open to it. you have to talk to them about it and explain what it is and what it isn't. that's always important, what it isn't. you're going to make sure you're prioritizing safety for sure at all times and make sure you're hiring the right people. you need to do that with every person you hire. and we've had at wichita kansas, where i used to spend most of my time, i talked to a bunch of people one on one, we start to hire people.
my colleagues do the same thing. it's one person at a time. find one person at a time. hire that person. hire another person. just like anything else. i will say with the way the economy, thankfully, is hopefully picking up and booming and there is a huge labor shortage in this country, i think there is more and more appetite by employers to hire people with criminal records. the statistics is somewhere, a third or so of the people in this country, adults, have some type of criminal record. so for us at koch, it never made sense to exclude potentially one-third of potential workforce just because of criminal record because we have 120,000 employees, global employer, we want the best people, period, not those with or without a criminal record. and i think more and more employers are seeing that you can't get, say, one-third of the workforce we're not going to look at especially for skilled labor, a lack of that in industry. and what we've seen is more and more people are open to it and it's what -- it's a mutual benefit basically, the employer needs someone. there are people now skilled with prison reform in certain places like michigan and other states coming out, qualified to do the work. and there's like 6 million jobs
that need welders, electricians, that type of thing to go wanting every year. so i think it's one of these issues the more people talk about it, the more you socialize it out there, the more we get to meet people who have criminal records and have a background in it and you see they're just regular folk. i speak for myself. i could have easily been caught up in the system. luckily i was on the other side of the bar. i worked in the prison. over time people change their minds about it. i think you can't force it. the government can't force it on private employers because that will turn them off. if the government wants to help, they need to reduce the number of collateral consequence that keep people from jobs and occupational license ands things like that. >> now, larry, you hear from a constituency that certainly in this room is a bit rarer, more elusive. you hear from a community of our ausas, federal prosecutors who feel that the emphasis on sentencing reform at the -- certainly at the federal level but obviously more broadly is somewhat misguided, that, in
fact, enforcement and prosecutorial discretion here sais a key -- a key tool in keeping america safe and enhancing public safety across the u.s., and i'm curious, within -- given the gravity, the trajectory that the conversation has taken over the last couple years, where do you see that gaining traction and why? >> about less than 7% of our federal prisoners are women. less than 7%. we have about 58 -- excuse me, 28 juveniles currently serving a federal sentence. this is one of the distinctions that separates us from the state system and the federal system. we are not prosecuting low-level, nonviolent drug users. we are not prosecuting juveniles. i have to go to the attorney general to prosecute a juvenile, get the attorney general to sign off on the authorization before we do so. those are the kinds of crimes
that a prosecutor at the state level. we've heard a lot about the success of the state systems. we've done some research recently on recidivism. recidivism is the gold standard if your system works well, your recidivism rate should be low. recidivism rate at the federal system, three years out, after you're released from a three-year period, how many people in the federal system get rearrested? it's about 34%. it should be zero in a perfect world. we'd like it to be zero. it's about 5,696 united states stoer attorneys. if they had that magic wand, when a person finished serving their sentence, we'd tap them and say, you're never going to commit another crime. that's not the world we live in. when you look at the state systems touting better programs, you have to ask yourself, what is your re-arrest, recidivism rate three years out? the states we studied, the so-called model states don't come anywhere near the 34% that we achieve at the federal level and their systems cost more. so, our position is federal prosecutors is our system is
working well, we should continue to do what we're doing. as far as the statutory prosecution, you've asked about how are we doing with the system we currently have. the system we currently have is done extraordinarily well. we had a crime epidemic back in the '80s that was just horrendous. and the congress of the united states addressed that by creating new statutes, new tools for prosecutors to use. as a result of that, our crime rate plummeted. did our incarceration rate increase? yes, because we are effectively -- we're prosecuting people who deserve to be prosecuted for the crimes they committed. you have to keep in mind the major goal of our criminal justice system is not only prosecuting people who commit crime. the major goal is to protect the innocent and to protect the public safety. we think at the federal level we do that very well. is there room for improvement? absolutely. should we tweak some things and make them better? absolutely. but for the most part, facts show that our crime rate has plummeted as a result of some of the things that we have the tools that we currently have, including mandatory minimums.
i know that's a hot topic. that have worked very, very well for us over the years. >> so, a big part of what we've heard in each of your answers is a very different framing of success. what it looks like, who it's for. we've heard from mark the employers across the country who are seeking candidates, people to fill jobs and actually have a scarcity of people because, again, one in four people in prison across the world is imprisoned in the u.s. why -- in that problem, we heard from holly some of the collateral consequence include the consequence of, for example, dignity for women. one version of success that one could construe is that everyone feels their dignity enhanced. why center the point of solution on rearrest rates?
what do you think -- there are many components, of course, to public safety. but what's the argument we're -- for making your definition of success here a stronger definition of success than, say, the number of people who are currently behind bars who could be in jobs. >> well, you have to have some way of measuring how your system is working. and the gold standard in the industry, if you will, of criminology is what's your recidivism rate, is it 3 years out, 5 years out or 8 years out and it's based upon -- should be based upon rearrest. what some of the state systems do is they don't look at rearrests, they look at reconvictions. when you look at reconvictions that drives the number lower and makes it look like you're having a successful program when that's not the case. one of the things we have to recognize is there is nothing we're going to be able to do as far as our criminal justice system is concerned that's going to eliminate the real problem. the real problem doesn't begin when you get arrested. the real problem begins when you
-- before you're arrested. we need to figure out what we can do to convince people they should choose a law abiding way of life. what incentives can we have out there to fix the problem before it, quite frankly, starts. when we do that we'll go a long way of fixing the ultimate problem we're talking about today. >> and if we could spend less money on throwing people behind bars, we can invest more money in education -- and economic development, infrastructure improvements, areas where if we were investing more resources, perhaps we wouldn't see as many people entering our justice system. but if we are going to talk about this in the context of public safety, i do want to throw out a statistic over the past decade. the ten states that significantly reduced their incarcerated populations through the reforms that mark and i support saw an average drop in our crime rates of 19%. conversely, the ten states that most significantly increased their incarcerated populations through the old, you know, tough on crime lock them up and throw away the key policies of the
1980s, only saw an average drop in crime of 11%. so, i mean, i think the strong argument for reform is that it does make our community safer. >> can i just chime in? i don't want to -- i have a lot of respect for larry and what he does, but i have to make one note. i know i haven't looked recently, but a few years ago there were over 2200 people sentenced to federal prison for simple possession. those sound like low-level nonviolent offenders. >> that's not an accurate number, mark. it's about -- >> i have the -- i don't know where you're getting it. >> i'm getting it from the bureau of justice -- >> since i sadly don't have it in front of me right now, i guess the question is how much is -- how many nonviolent -- >> right. all i'm saying is there are in the system, i think. let's put that aside. mandatory minimums, i was around when they started. i've heard that's what led to the reduction in the crime rate.
i've talked to prosecutors who i respect a lot who say maybe 30%. that was the reason why it dropped. there were other factors. so, i think saying just because those were long sentences, i don't think that's right. i think a lot of it -- look, i lived in d.c., i lived in worcester. i saw a lot of things with drugs over the years in that era. i understand what drove it. it was bipartisan. it was good intentions. but i do think that we probably overshot on it and that's why i'd say that even though larry says the states are different, what they're doing is what we should try to do at the federal level as well, i think, is divert people out. right now we can't. we don't have specialty courts obviously. i don't know if that would ever happen. i do know the white house last september -- and there were a couple representatives from the department of justice there, it was a great discussion with advocates, elected officials and others. and one of the discussion points that the d.o.j. seemed interested in was maybe specialty courts like keeping people out of the system.
that would be sentencing reform and that's worked in the states. does it work all the time? no, but it's a tool we should use to differentiate and deep people out if we can. and by saying all of this, i'm not saying anyone has done anything wrong in the system up till now, right? i'm just saying we know better. we've learned a lot and we've seen what works in different places with different states with different approaches. and whether it's okay for someone gets out of prison or doesn't go to prison to begin with, great. there's someone who's going to be in prison, absolutely, they need to be there for a long time, but we then need to do something with them when they're there. to holly's point on education, one of the things that can level the playing field for anybody regardless of socioeconomic status is a good education, but we know that's a big problem in a lot of places. so, my point of view is the things that generally keep you out of prison to begin with are someone -- hopefully a family member that loves you and mentors you, a job and opportunity and an education. but if people don't get that and they end up in prison, they
definitely need it upon reentry. that's what we're focused on, prison reform and reentry reform. we need all those things. it's not a secret. those who do get it in prison, education programs, the study shows by d.o.j. study, by the way, that for every dollar spent on in-prison education you defray $4 of incarceration costs. it works. >> larry, i want to give you an opportunity to respond and i want to double down or reinforce something i heard implicit in your question. >> well, education i think is key. this is a inmate's prison record of the courses that the federal bureau of prisons offered this one inmate. i'm not going to read all four pages. this is what the inmate was exposed to. havc, self-study, residential wiring self-study, computer skills, fair job intervention, your strategic future, keyboarding self-study, job survey, computer lab, french 2,
classic western movies, history of the world, comedy film study, medicine ball, stretching, fair health, legendry adventures, i can go on and on. this idea we put people up in the federal system and lock them in a cell and give them bread and water is a fallacy. we do everything we can to try to rehabilitate. yes, you have to be punished for committing a crime. for every crime there is a victim or many victims if you're a drug trafficker. maybe thousands of victims. this idea that we're focusing on the criminals, it's a good idea. we should do the best we can to rehabilitate people but we can't forget that they're there for a reason and they victimize people and we need to not lose the reality that there's a consequence to the crime these people commit. again, what we need to do is stop people from committing crime. once they committed that crime, yes, we should rehabilitate them. we should do everything we can so they wouldn't commit crime again. the federal bureau of prisons does that. 18 months before you're released as a federal prisoner, they begin a process to get you back in society.
six months before you're released you go to a halfway house to get a job, a place to live. after your sentence is over, you're on a period of supervised relief where you have a u.s. probation officer who works with you for three to five years to continue to assure as best we can that this person does not go back to a life of crime. we fail 34% of the time, uf unfortunately, three years out. >> we can dive in quite a bit on the question of how do we make the experience for folks who are caught up in the broad system of correctional observation in the u.s., how do we make that experience one that does not essentially trap them in that system. we can talk about that for sometime, but here's something implicit in your line of questioning, larry, that i want to tease out. because i also even hear reformers beginning to ask versions of this question, which is, are we just talking about the low hanging fruit? are we just in talking about particularly when we talk about nonviolent drug offenses, are we
dancing around the much larger question of what is america to do with the all of the people who are currently incarcerated, especially violent criminals? we'll come to a point in this conversation where if, holly and mark, your efforts succeed, where we will have somewhat addressed the harsh, perhaps over harsh sentencing of drug offenders. but what happens then? if the majority of folks who are behind bars at the state and local level are there for offenses that include violence, what's the argument to the public? how will we actually make americans productive and send them off to jobs and education with that reality? >> to larry's point, i'd just like to say the reforms we favor
are pro crime survivor, pro victim, pro community, pro law enforcement, pro family. that's what we're about. we're not about trying to coddle criminals or anything else. we're trying to make them better people, hopefully, over time, with some of the programs we're going to talk about. to your point, the bottom line is whether people like it or not, more than 95% of the people in the system come out -- they're all coming out. it's not a matter of if, it's when. so, we as a society have to decide do we want them coming out better or worse and that gets back to the programmatic activity and prison reform which, at the federal level, there seems to be a lot of consensus on right now and i'd like more but i'd also like to get something done. but -- so, what we need to do is hopefully make reforms so some of the people are staying out who aren't a risk to public safety that can be dealt with less consequentially from an economic perspective and human cost perspective by locking them up. we know over time people get more violent if they're in
prison even if they weren't to begin with. so trying to keep people out will help. to your point there are people with violent felonies, dangerous felonies. but people can change. it's a tougher sell for sure with the american public. and i get that. but that's why we need prison reform. we need reforms where people get educated, people need skills, people get therapy, faith based, whatever it is. we work with groups that -- the list you had was great. a lot of great stuff. we work with groups that are, i don't know if they're nontraditional. they're not profits for sure, like the five inchers, for example. it's a prison entrepreneurship program and fellowship program. it goes to the most dangerous prisons. pelican bay super max california. i was there last summer. they have people accused of violent crimes in there a long time working across gang lines productively. some of them are getting out, getting jobs, they have entrepreneurial skills.
we work with hudson link which is a great education program. prison fellowship, a great program. there's all these different programs out there and one of the things i want to talk about quickly, not to monopolize the time, i'm really lucky to work at koch and we're lucky to work with a lot of groups, including holly's groups. right on crime with the texas policy foundation, we are starting -- we have started safe streets and second chances which we think is going to hopefully be a game changer in reentry reform in this country and reentry in general. it's right now in four states, four pilot states. we hope to scale it up and the whole idea is that someone else said in the earlier session, re entry needs to be day one of incarceration. day one, not six months out, not 18 months out, and it needs to be a mindset and our hope is with the tools we're going the bring working in these state facilities -- there's going to be 30 facilities in 4 states, texas, louisiana, florida, and
pennsylvania to start with, showing that -- and it's going to be randomized,so violent, nonviolent, everything. that hopefully we can reduce the recidivism rate over time through these programs that make people better. and we'll see what happens. the groups we work with now, ones i mentioned, they have recidivism rates on the small scale between 2%, 5%, 8%. if you can scale that up -- i'm not saying we can -- that would be remarkable and a game changer. >> holly, what do you think is the most needed intervention to make any encounter with the criminal justice system not a trap? >> i mean, look, i think we've got to be focusing more on treatment. and i know we talk a lot about how reforms save money and that's great. but we've got to start putting -- this is where a lot of the prosecutors have really been wonderful to work with because they are deep believers in treatment. and we don't -- we just don't have enough opportunities for treatment. i come from a state, kentucky --
i know you thought i was from connecticut. i come from a state where everybody's sick, everybody's sick. everybody's sick. i want to say something about -- we keep talking about these people, the criminals, the people who break the law. i mean, i come from a family -- my dad was a doctor. my mom was a stay at home mom and basically a stalker. i mean, you know, i had every privilege that a child could have, basically a perfect upbringing. i've struggled with alcohol abuse my entire life. my brother, 6'6", gorgeous, you know, a basketball superstar. i hated him growing up, you know. he had a serious brain injury and had surgery, then he became addicted to the pain medication that they gave him. so, we're all in this together. let's be very clear.
so, i just want to be careful -- [ applause ] >> i just want to be very careful, you know, how we talk about these people, because it's -- it's us. >> there is -- at a certain point, when i was talking with a fellow journalist in the newsroom, we were talking about the fact that, in particular neighborhoods in milwaukee, and we were talking about milwaukee, his parents had told him -- he was thinking of going to school in the university of wisconsin system, and that his mom had sat him down at one point and said, no, because for black men of our age, one out of every two of us would be pulled under some sort of correctional observation. so, either it was going to be him or me, one of the two of us
would have been in correctional observation. there is one of the strange dimensions of the spread of this problem as we have been talking about is that it is very concentrated in some areas. there are folks who have almost no sight line into it at all. and i'm curious, from your perspective, larry, to come back to you, what is the -- you talked a lot about the prevention of reentry. but what would you do, if you could control a state budget and someone were to ask you the question, which is a question that a lot of governors get asked, do you put that extra dollar into better prosecution, more enforcement? do you put that extra dollar into making the experience of incarceration better, more enriching? or do you put that extra dollar into getting it into the hands of folks who can connect it to someone who is getting overdosed, where would you put the extra dollar?
>> i would put it into everything to convince people not to lead lives of crime. >> is that education in marketing? >> whatever it takes. we need to focus on crime prevention. we need to create an environment where people no longer turn to crime. one of the tragedies in our country is that our minority communities are the most victimized by criminals and it's a tragedy that we need to somehow fix so that your other person there wouldn't be looking at the possibility of going to jail just because of his race. we need to fix that. >> at the same time, we are right now in the midst of another drug epidemic, the way that we were in the '80s when harsher sentences, many of them went into effect. right now states are considering this question. is the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, or is it a matter of criminal enforcement? and it's a matter of dollars and cents for a lot of jurisdictions.
where do you put those dollars and cents now at this stage when we can intervene? is the criminal justice system the best place to invest? >> i don't think it is an the best place. but it's certainly one of the places. the thing that worked for us in the past, the things we want to continue to use, is it going to solve the problem. 64,000 of our citizens died in 2016 as a result of the opioid heroin epidemic. we are trying to stem the tide of prosecuting those people who traffic in drugs to make money. they sell a poison to our citizens for profit. those are the people we prosecute. 4%, according to the sentencing commission, 4% of our prosecutions are for possession. and those 4%, about half of that comes from my brothers and sisters who are prosecutors on the state borders with mexico who capture people coming in with 60, 70 pounds of marijuana and there's so many of them, they down plead it to a simple
possession. other possession cases, federal park, you're driving down a fed -- federal highway and you have a joint and you get stopped for speeding, yeah, you're going to get possession of marijuana. we put those people in diversion programs. they don't end up at the end of the day, we have pretrial diversion programs. if you're committing a difficult -- minor crime possession of a joint, at the end of the day, you're going to get no record, probation for a year and it will go away. we do a lot of good things in our federal system and we need to continue doing those. but no natter what we do as prosecutors, until we face the issue of what are we doing to keep people from leading a life of crime, we're always going to be in the mess we're in right now. >> we need to give them alternatives. >> need to be jobs, education, that's what we need. >> look, i'm not excusing any criminal conduct, but the reality is people have to survive sometimes and they do things that they probably shouldn't do. but they do them. and i think that the fact that we know where a lot of these -- at least i'll speak, again, 100 years ago in worcester, mass -- nachmassachusetts, it was a h
of poor white kids locked up who were poorly educated, didn't have any supervision. they ended up in the system. i'm not excusing it. they did these things but there's a reason this keeps happening and i don't think we need to keep fighting it with the same tools. i hate to say it, but the war on drugs, drugs won. that's just the reality. there is a criminal element, definitely treat it like that, but there's something much more deeply lying underneath it, particularly for the people who end up -- i'm not saying the dealers but the people who are addicted. i'm glad we're not going to take the same approach we did with crack, treating it like a criminal issue. i hope that people can get treatment and help and have fulfilling lives. but there's got top opportunities. i think a lot of it is a lack of hope that's out there and in prisons. hopefully we can provide some hope and i think there's a lot we can do as a society to enhance and protect public safety with the great work that u.s. attorneys do and all the prosecutors, because like holly said, we're all in this together. we all want the same thing.
>> thank you, mark. i heard many points of possible tentative agreement among the three of you. i know there is a much broader universe of issues to dive in deeply. thank you, mark, holly, larry. thank you for your time today. >> yes, thanks again, mark, larry, holly. thank you in particular for your rare personal candor. and thank you, matt. next up, a session from our underwriter. in a moment we're going to welcome google's susan molinari, vice president of public policy and government affairs, and malika, she's senior counsel on civil and human rights and they're going to talk about using technology to advance the conversation about criminal justice. but before they come on stage, they wanted us to watch a few minutes of a documentary supported by google about conditions at rikers which is new york city's main jail complex. hit the tape.
>> i remember it like it was yesterday. i remember them taking me to unit 1. they beat me so bad that i didn't even remember what happened or where i was until 90 days later. >> rikers is sadness. >> rikers is humbling. >> full of hate. >> lawless, too. >> i hated it. i hate -- i hate that place. >> on any given day, rikers island jail in new york city confines nearly 8,000 people. conditions on the island are brutal, horrific, worse than
most prison where inmates serve long sentences after a conviction. but rikers is a jail where 80% of the people locked up are awaiting their day in court and have not been convicted of a crime. they are innocent in the eyes of the law. >> 50 years old, my innocence was robbed from me. 15 years old. >> what happens in life you are subject to getting raped in the bathroom. i had to have survival sex in the bathroom. >> i wasn't even scared. i just ---ist helpless. i didn't know what to do. that's when i really realized, like, you're only on an island. >> even though he was charged with a crime, my son was never a criminal, he never had a criminal record. >> my son ended up staying in rikers island for six years waiting for trial. he thought that he was going to die there. >> i still deal with the trauma.
trauma is real. i don't care what nobody says. trauma is real. >> ten years of waiting in -- to close rikers means ten more years of dreams deferred. i have seen how rikers island has destroyed communities. i've seen how people come back to the bronx and come back to communities all across the city and they're different and they are changed and they are fearful and they're hesitant to go and walk down the block. and they look at parole officers and the regular cops and the community in different ways. how do we allow this to continue?
>> kind of a heavy thing to try and follow, so. >> it is, it is. but i want people to know how that piece came about. first of all, i want people to know that that piece that we did is in honor and memory of kalief browder's mother. and we did that video in partnership with advocacies who are working on the rikers issue in partnership with formerly incarcerated new yorkers and their families, and we actually have the director, chris jenkins, over there, who pulled together this beautiful piece for google. and it will be shown on youtube. so, i want you all to know where that came from because it's an example of the work that google is doing around criminal justice reform.
and i guess susan, my question to you is why are we doing this? why is google doing this? >> well, so, first of all, thank you all for being here and allowing us to have this conversation with you. and i guess -- so, i grew up in staten island, new york. i actually was a former city representative and then i was a member of congress from staten island and brooklyn. so, i could see rikers while i traveled throughout the city. i never knew half these stories. i never knew any of these stories. why didn't i know those stories? because the gate keepers kept them quiet. so, i think there's two things for why google -- why we wanted google to get involved in it, and it is, number one, because as holly said, it's all of us, right? when you get to meet these men and women, these boys and girls, you see a different face. you see a different side. you hear a different story about
who these individuals are and how they got to be where they are and what we're doing when we reintegrate them, and the power that we're trying to give them because, really, the difference between them and us is power. and if we can use the google power to help do a few things, number one, give them power, give them voice which with every individual that i have met, there is that recurring story. i had no voice. no one would listen to me. and then, of course, once you're incarcerated, it only gets worse. so, give them the voice. give them hope. and break down the gatekeepers who only tell us one side of the story of the individuals who wind up in jail, who wind up in a system that only accelerates the burn and the hurt and destroys so many individuals, so many lives, so many communities. so, to holly's point, if we can put that face on, it makes it easier for us to have this conversation for individuals
like myself who grew up thinking i was taking care of a community and representing a city and was blind to a lot of what either the gate keepers didn't want me to see or quite frankly my heart and soul wasn't ready to see. so, i think google allows us to give voice and give a perspective that isn't times there, and allows us to have this conversation because it is a political conversation, right? so much of what we need to do are to rally those individuals to feel safe about taking these votes, feeling safe on a stage like this saying this is wrong, these are lost lives. these are good people. and i think the more we talk about it, the more we show it, the more it's on youtube or c-span, the more we have these conversations, the safer people will feel to take up the cause because they know that there is a community of individuals throughout the united states who depend on it and who will support them in it.
>> and, you know, if one thing we know how to do at google is to disrupt. we are disrupters. and if anything needs to be disrupted, it's mass incarceration. >> absolutely. >> and we are in that space of using these different platforms that we have at google, whether it's youtube or it's vr to be able to disrupt the human mass incarceration. >> absolutely. and it's all -- you know, i've learned this since malika came to work for us. it's all of it, right. look at that, 80% of individuals going to rikers are awaiting trial. so, presumed innocent in the eyes of the law in rikers for years and years. why? because they can't afford their bail, right? that's the difference between the survivors and those not, is just bail. that was -- that's an education people need.
why so many individuals plead to get out of there? the inhumanity, the soullessness, and the reintegration. you talk to these individuals who come out and we expect them to be able to reintegrate. and we as a society give them absolutely no equipment to do that under the best of circumstances. so, there are so many discussions we need to have in this country as we just watched so many individuals just waste. >> you know, i took a group of our leadership to rikers, and clearly we got the curated tour of rikers, but it was powerful to watch our leadership, you know, walk the halls of rikers. none of them had either been to any form of jail. the individual who is vice-president of engineering said to me, i didn't even know there's a difference between jail and prison. >> right. >> so, i guess my question to you is, how do you feel that doing this work around engaging
in criminal justice reform and choosing to tell some of the stories of the human cost of incarceration, how do you feel that's changed us in terms of leadership and changed the company? >> well, i think for sure, look, the individuals that work at google throughout the country, throughout the world understand the value of this social platform. and the more that they learn about these issues, the more they want to get involved in using this platform for good. again, to highlight these stories, to not allow this to be that conversation that only takes place in certain neighborhoods because that's not where the change is going to be. and so i think it really has changed google in many ways to see that this platform can reach people while they're looking for cat videos or whatever else they go on youtube for, or searching for answers on medical equipment, that we can also then
bring them into a conversation that is really difficult to have, right? i think malika and i got to know each other because she ran a foundation for trafficked young girls here in the united states. before that, i worked on child abuse. and i think there's a pattern here, right? it's the difficulty -- it's not that people don't want to fix it. it's not that people say the heck with them on all these things. it's that if you are a good person, it's so hard to believe that these things are happening. so, we just turn away. i've been through so many things where we talk about parents who sell their kids. when you have these conversations with legislators or leaders in this country, they don't want to hear it. they can't believe it, right? because there is that evil, that inequality, the evil that just makes it easier to say, i'm not going to read that article on the child who died. i'm not going to read the story about mass incarceration and the loss of innocence and what's
happening in there. i'm not going to read the story of 12-year-olds who are trafficked because people feel powerless to do something about it.. once you can say to somebody, if you look at this, you can join and help fix it. then they will pay attention to it. and i think the one thing that we hope to do at google is to give people through these convenings, through the stuff we do in vr, through stuff you can see on youtube, and just having this conversation around the country does two things. it really kind of forces the conversation, but we also want to say to people -- and here's ways that you can actually change it. and so, you know, hopefully that's sort of the mission google has taken up on this. >> and part of that has also been having a policy conversation, right? where we've been bringing in both sides of the aisle to
google offices. >> right. >> to talk about this issue of the shared space around reform, and as a former congresswoman, i'm curious to know, how have you seen that as we have senator lee and senator booker come and talk to us about their shared perspective on reform? >> well, like this this isn't going to be a news flash to anybody here but there's not too many things that republicans and democrats agree on in this town lately, so when you have leaders of both a conservative movement like mike lee and senator booker who has just been an absolute champion, right there, you know, where they speak from the heart. i haven't seen senator booker speak on this so many times, and i still cry when i hear his passion and i hear his story, you know, there's -- there's an opportunity here. there's a real opportunity to engage in this conversation. again, i feel hopeful about it. i feel that, like, again, i keep saying the gatekeepers because i want to go back a little bit to the me too movement.
how many years has this been taking place and all of a sudden the gate keepers were gone because of twitter and the stories couldn't be kept quiet anymore. we want to use google to be that platform for the gatekeepers to say on criminal justice reform, on the tragedies that are taking place, on the lives that we're losing, on the solutions that are out there, to sort of say, okay, like now you've seen it, now you've met these people. they are you. and so let's do something about it. and i think that's -- that, to me, is what provides such hope in this moment of time that we can now reach a larger group of people from new jersey to utah and every place in between. and have this conversation and mobilize the public to, again, you know, give voice to those who are not given the honor that you and i are given at this moment to appear before a group like this and give voice. that, to me, is just why we're here. can i just say something?
so, malika is a force of nature and i got to know her because i joined her board on anti-trafficking, and malika's stanford, georgetown, brown, but when she was doing her law degree, she started working with women in prison, and so she went the ngo route because she couldn't get their voices and their faces out of her head. and that is just an incredibly special woman. and so, after working with her, i said to her, it's not an ngo, and we've got our corporate issues, but you've got a pretty big platform to try and make some change so we're just really grateful that she was able to come over to google and help us increase our conscience. >> and at first i said, why would i come to google? like, what would i do at google? and you really challenged me to be able to are-imagine and rethink how we could use a platform lie google to ke googl
to advance human rights in general and in particular really thinking through how we can really use our platforms to advance -- you know what brian stevenson asks of us, to be proximate, to bear witness, and i think every bear witness. we are thinking about how do we use these different technologies at our disposal to bear witness to suffering that is not otherwise known. i think it is why the v.r. project we have done with atlantic is really exciting. it allows us to scale the prison walls to give the lived ex peerps, even if for a brief period of time. i'm grateful that you have the leadership and the moral courage to bring google to this incredible place of opportunity on the issue of justice reform. at this real powerful moment where so many people are coming
together. >> i understand what you did what you did. once i started to meet some of these women who have been through hell and back and still have such power and commitment, you don't forget. you don't turn away. >> i want to close by giving thanks to so many of the advocates in the room. when you talk about doing the work around women behind bars, i did that work because of women like enchica and shikyra washington. i want to give thanks to them and all the partners who have worked with us so we can do this and do it with humility and commitment. i want to give remarkable thanks and deep, abiding gratitude for the atlantic for allowing us to do this series. it has been a real honor. >> i do want to end by faking
advantage of the fact that senator booker is off the stage to thank him for his leadership. honestly, he engages in this conversation as he does with so much bipartisan feeling to have that conversation that places blame nowhere but provides hope and solutions everywhere. we need more leaders like that in washington, d.c. thank you, senator. >> nithank you, everybody! >> thank you so much, susan and malika. thank you to google for making this conversation this morning in this series possible. new jersey senator, cory booker, has been standing at the sidelines waiting to come on. as everybody knows he is an activist for criminal justice reform along with senator mike lee, a legislation that would roll back mandatory minimum sentences and introduced the dig
naty for incarcerated women that would ban shackling and sol dity confinement for women and require that all women get free feminine hygiene products and make it easier for women to communicate with their kids in keeping them in prisons that are relatively close to home. with that, it is my pleasure to welcome senator booker to the stage. . he is here with atlantic editor, jillian white. jillian, take it away. >> hello, senator. >> hello. >> when you took office a few years ago, i think it is safe to say the political landscape was a little different. >> now, with the trump administration in place, how much reform is really possible in in area? >> i think it remains to be seen. baldwin at the end of his great book has a saying where he says i know what i'm asking you is
impossible. the impossible is what we can demand. people are emboldened by the history of american negroes. the landscape looks horrible to me. we don't see an appetite for making these kind of changes. we have critical folks that block the legislation under president obama that we got out of committee on the floor. ouc ov o anything is possible if we can raise enough conscious to compre eight movement. this parkland shooting is an example that when the consciousness of our country ge gets pricked, the shift of what's possible is happening.
more and more people are beginning to realize we can shift the realm of what's possible if we continue at it. i don't care who is president of the united states. >> i want to talk about that bipartis bipartisan traction. are you seeing other conservatives that are now signing on who have seen the conversation grow and are now interesting in working with you and dems on these types of reforms? >> i fry to approach this as a full-cou full-court press across the entire criminal justice system. sometimes i can pick up a partner plik i ha partner like i have on senator johnson. sometimes i can pick up a friend or ally like mike lee on reducing minimums. sometimes i can pick up somebody on marijuana reform.
there are a lot of fields from arrests to the drug war to incarceration. given the moral urgency of this, if you live in this space, i am the only senator that lives in an inner city, low income, minority community. i see every single day the carnage, the daily carnage that the broken criminal justice system has. i am just looking for allies to pick them up anywhere possible. i have seen movement. chuck grassley, when i got to the senate in 2013, was on the senate floor giving speeches against the very things that i was trying to do. one of the main reasons i ran for the united states senate, and i have seen a coalition built between you and i. so, again, i just look at history. the civil rights legislation didn't just pass because strom thurmond said, black folks should get some equal rights. no. it happened because a movement, a multi-racial gender age
movement happened in this country. you saw people change their minds. that's still why forums like this are important. what was said in the last panel about using these incredible technological platforms to brick the consciousness of this country. the real obstacle to change right now is not simply the people sitting in office. it is that so many americans are vastly unaware of the things that are going on in their name. we see the state versus or the people versus. we are the state. we are the people. these are horrible things. i sat down with a u.n. person yesterday discussing the human rights violations going on in the united states. not talking about other countries by the daily human rights violations going on in our name. i have such a love for this country. i always say, if this country hasn't broken your heart, you don't love her enough. i love this country.
i am anguished by the ignorance of what's going on every day to millions of americans but i am knowledgeable that our country, when we can become aware, we react and we've seen that from may of '63 in birmingham, when incredible protesters, children demonstrate, expose the bigotry of systemic racism. i can go through moments in history where once this country has its moral imagination pricked, it goes from comfort to uncomfort. >> i want to talk about the administration. do you see any partners there. jared kushner has said this is supposedly an area he is interested in, mostly in reentry. do you see a sincere effort at partnership there? >> i am a prisoner of hope.
jared kushner has reached out. the kushners and the trumps are from jersey. you have probably bumped from them. jared kushner's father went to prison. i was communicating with him while he was in prison. when he came out of prison, he was animated, because he saw from the inside how broken the system was. the first time when i went to reicher's island to meet with kids when i was stunned and going around talking to children incarcerated that hadn't had a trial. kid after kid was saying i have been here three months, five months. the person that insisted i go was gerald kushner's father, charlie kushner. this is a family issue. i know there is a sincere intention there to make change. i still do not believe we are going to make the massive change we need unless pressure is
applied. when you have jeff sessions, the most anti-criminal justice reform. somebody who has brought to a halt the civil rights accountability, the voting rights accountability, the police accountability ain the justice department. brought it to a virtual halt. someone who blocked our legislation in the senate in the last congress before he was there, it gives me a pause to be sober about what can actually be achieved. there is a lot of activity. my friends who are grassroots activists have been invited to the white house and had constructive meetings or discussions. james baldwin said it clearly, i can't believe what you say, because i see what you do. my thing is i don't have time to foist judgments or draw conclusions. every single day for me, it's very painful to see what people are suffering, every single day.
i'm going to go to the floor of the senate today and try to wake people up that i know parkland is painful. to see these young heroes on tv is so beautiful. since parkland, hundreds of americans have been shot and killed in communities of color. i had a ten-year-old boy in atlantic city. why is his headline? a young man killed in newark. the cost of inaction, the opposite of justice, is not justice. the opposite of injustice is inaction. it is apathy and ignorance. that's the awakening we need in this country. to see each other's dignity, beauty, and i'm guilty. i have made these mistakes in y
life recently. i am running around the country talking about criminal justice reform. the reason why i introduced the dignity act and pulled elizabeth warren in to partner with me, is because women were getting up in my face and saying to me i still remember once we had alicia keys. it was one of these wonderful events of criminal justice in the capitol. this woman, after i get my speech, she brings me over. this is what i love about certain folk who like they don't give a dam what my title is. she is up in my face talking to me like my neighbors do still. she is like, why do you never talk to the particular concerns of women in prison. she started breaking it down for me. finally, i'm embarrassed to say this. i have visited many prisons, from immigration lockup in texas to rikers island but i have never visited a women's
facility. i met with many more formerly incarcerated women. they were breaking down stuff that i just did not know. here, i'm talking about ignorance. i just did not know. i went up to the -- this gets me very emotional. when i went to go to the lockup in danbury, connecticut, the federal facility, i still remember this warden. she was a great leader. the ward den of that prison, tough, talking to me. she had a swagger about her. i asked her how many women in this facility are survivors of sexual violence and trauma. she stops and just looks soft and vulnerable in a courageous way. she said 95%. we are the society that takes the most harmed, the most hurt, the most victimized people and our answer to their pain is to
throw them into jails and prisons and to compound their injustice. i ended up sitting there at a cafeteria bench talking to these women using all my time. what did i need to visit the facility, but just talking and listening to their everyday stories about having to make decisions between buying sanitary products and calling their children. they were often separated between two and three places, hearing them with detail, how they are trying to make tampons, makeshift tampons in prison. that's outrageous and inhuman. we have a come-up-ings. i am a big believer that before you tell me about your religion, show it to me in how you treat other people. there is a civic gospel that we
all know. a little kid growing up in church. the songs we sing. we have our songs. we swear an oath. we sar wear an oath in this couy that we will be a nation of liberty and justice for all. i'm sorry. we are so far from that when it comes to our criminal justice system and what we do to people. i love the progress we are making. even the bipartisan bill that we brought out of congress last congress was anemic concerned to the concerns and challenges we have. >> the bill that you brought out addressed some of the things you just mentioned, sanitary products and being able to call home for free. what are the other needs of women that are not being met. another thing you see when you see all this reform, a lot of this is at the federal level. federal prisons only have a small slice of inmates compared to local jails and prisons.
>> to clarify, it was a comprehensive sentencing bill that made it out. the dignity act hasn't moved at all. this is what has moved. the next thing you know, elizabeth warren, you want a great, fierce partner, grab elizabeth warren. i am going on tv. i'm talking about tampons and pads. # and just befo and just before we leave in 2017, very quietly the bureau of prisons puts out a director that these products should be provided for free for all of our prisons. sometimes you don't have to pass legislation but calling out the injustice. we still have work to do again. baldwin quote, i can't believe what you say, because i see what you do. we have to make sure that people are doing what the federal bu roe burrough of prisons said. this is because of grassroots activists. so many activists saw the
quality of this bill, which addressed more needs for women, fraum ma-informed cartrauma-inf issues of placement with regard to children. one woman told me, when the woman goes to prison, the whole family goes to prison. our bill is very comprehensive. we start seeing eight states that have picked up the dignity act or bills modeled after the dignity act and eight different states are moving. that's important to me. at the end of the day, the federal government only has between 10%, 20% of the prisoners. the state is where the prisons are. to write a piece of legislation that is now being picked up in state legislators. it is a contribution i'm proud of. it goes to show this is a much larger movement and a much larger urgency. what we do on the federal level is important but where a lot of this movement has to happen is
on the state level. >> i am going to let the audience know we want to fry and get one or two questions in after my next question, senator booker. a lot of the pushback we mahear when it comes to sentencing reform is about community safety. can you talk to me about how you respond to those concerns and how the incarceration and dealing with these issues helps. >> before i talk about this, if you are really concerned about community safety, you wouldn't take a drug war and target communities. you wouldn't devastate them economically. you wouldn't rip parents away from children for doing things that three of the last four presidents admitted to doing. you wouldn't give lifetime sentences to individuals when they are coming out of prison for drug crimes. many members of congress have done and tell them for the rest of your life, you can't get food stamps or public housing, business licenses, jobs, so
devastating. people are yelling out there are 40,000 collateral consequences for people that have been incarcerated. what does that do to a community in terms of violence and safety when you take away hope from human beings for being able to provide for their families in already economically distressed communities? there was a study at vanderbilt that said we would have 20% less poverty if we had incarceration the same as our industrial peers. this is profound economic punishment. our criminal justice system has created more violence than it was trying to say it was trying to solve. what i mean by that is this system the way it stands right now, so economically disadvantaging certain communities, it has driven up crime rates. we are seeing from most states, they are lowering their prison populations and you see crime going down.
if you treat people and deal with everything from mental health to trauma, you will have a much longer term success at lowering crime that be if you take people who have traumatized, injured, hurt, addicted and stick them in jails, further traumatized and with solitary confinement and experiencing violence in prisons and release them. hurt people are going to go on and hurt people. that's the reality. the last point about this false distinction, what we have created as violent crimes having met people who have driven a car and didn't even know that a gun was being used. that person has a label of violent crime. the last thing i say about so-called violent criminals as a guy who was in heavily testosterone-laden environments, like football locker rooms where fights break out. one bar fight, one person tripping and falling, that's a violent fell on.
to think that people that make mistakes don't have the capacity of reduemption. this idea our whole society comes up from eye deaideals and redemptions. your whole life should not be defined on the lowest moment. i don't buy a lot of the arguments of people opposing reform. >> i think we have time for one very speedy question over there. >> thank you so much for your leadership issue on this. i am one of those people and also the director of a transitional housing program for women in virginia coming out of jail in prison. we are the largest one in virginia. we can only take 26 women at a time. it's incredible. we are overwhelmed. we get an application every day. women are out there in the system. they need help. they need leadership. you are right to talk about the federal issues for us. these women are with me today
that live in our home and our program. they have terrible issues that are specifically to women. thank you so much for taking the conversation today back to women. women are not violent criminals. we hear people sit up there and talk about mass murderers. these are not women's issues at all inside the jails. the issues that you are talking b the feminine hygiene issues, the education, these women want to talk about how they can't get new glasses, treatment or see their kids. >> did you have a question? >> i did have a question. it was, how can they help us fix the issues not at the federal level but at the state levels? how can we do this work? how can we join you? >> we live in this distraught present where we are a society that is willing to do immoral things that are vastly more expensive than doing moral
things that not only save mo mo but empower lives to go on to prosperity and success. i have seen a lot of realities where people are coming out of prison and have no place to go and no support systems. they go into homelessness and it is vastly more expensive. organizations like yours, and we have them in newark and the city in which i live, these little islands of sanity and moral light. this casts dark shadows over the way our society is doing things. i am going out to seattle this weekend to help some of my colleagues out there. i love this one housing group called plymouth housing group. they analyze a small group of people they are serving relative to the need and the demand. they just did an analysis, what's more expensive, keeping people with mental illness on streets and homeless or putting them in supportive housing?
as a guy who ran a city, housing is expensive. they just did an an sill of 23 on the streets or in supportive housing. they found they were saving taxpayers in the city $1 million by taking folks off the street. they end up in emergency rooms and get churned into our criminal justice system, which is vastly more expensive for our society. when you start talking about women who are always the economic anchors of any society, any continent on the planet earth, you empower women and you empower society. if you savagely, brutally attack women, you devastate communities. you devastate people. this is what we are doing in this country. again, i keep going to this parkland thing that i so admire these children. i'm so inspired by them. where is the conversation about domestic violence, murders in this country and how common it is and how the stories i'm
hearing about the numbers of people that are being murdered but we are not having the conversation about what is a reality for women on a daily basis in this country. the last point, gwendolyn brooks said we are each other's harvest and business and magnitude and bond. this is not a dog eat dog country. i love the ideas of rugged individualism and self-reliance but that didn't get us to the moon. self-reliance didn't map the human genobe. we are great when we recognize the central nature we have to one another. this society cannot thrive when it is casting such a large percentage of this people, millions of its people, into institutions that do more damage to their psyche, more damage to their economic well-being and their families and to their children. this is what we are doing.
we are costing ourselves our treasure. the only way this is going to stop is if we create a movement and don't allow people who want to demagogue other people, who want to fear-monger other people -- if we are at a point where we are afraid of each other, we will not thrive in generations to come. this is still a young nation, still trying to make real on its promise and trying to tell the truth to this world that a democracy that believes in freedom and equality, these are the things we are still trying to prove over centuries. we are still a young country. i want to end with that idea. our founders, as imperfect as they were. genius documents. they didn't refer to women at all. native americans were referred to as savages in our declaration of independence. african-americans, fractions of human beings. the one thing they understood,
this being the oldest constitutional democracy, putting forth a country that is not founded because of the cords that used to tie societies together. it is not a theocracy, a religion. it is not because we all look-alike or speak alike. this was founded on these incredible e incredible ideals. they ended by saying, we must mutually pledge to each other our plifs alives and fortune and honor. >> my call to action is this. i will not get off the stage until i make a call to action. i will not yield my time. i am used to a filibuster. my call to action is this. all the activists in this room, if we do the same thing we did last year, we can not expect different results. we have to commit in this room for all the people that won't listen to us to be more rebellious, more unorthodox and more challenging to people to take a stage or two to let your
voice be heard. there is too much sin in this country. we need to ascend in this generation above this tragedy that's in our country that's happening every day. >> perfect. thank you, senator. >> thank you, senator booker. i hope when you got here today, some of you had a chance to watch one of the virtual reality short films on juvenile detention. we are going to watch one of the episodes again in a moment, just not the v.r. version. in any case, this is part of a series produced by our colleagues at atlantic studios zooming in on the experience of young offenders who end up behind bars. nick polick is the series producer and he is here with the
atlantic's managing editor, adrian green ta tao talk about project. nick and adrian, it is all yours. >> thank you, margaret. >> nick, one of the videos that you created features a student named zakori bates, who spent roughly two years in the bonaire facility. we we talk about his story, how about we watch the clip that margaret just mentioned. growing up in the neighborhood that i did was very violent. they had a lot of shootings and fights, people dealing drugs. the average kid, it messes them up mentally, because that's
traumatizing. we grew up very fast. so i was doing things that a kid wasn't supposed to do, like stealing money from people just because i think i needed it. i wasn't really like a bad kid but sometimes i felt like responsibility was calling. i had to. it was a rough time for me specially as a 17-year-old. somebody was like, hey, there is this going on and in about an hour, we're going to go do this. i was like, okay, i'm going with you. i need it too. i second-guessed it a couple of times. every bone in my body and every nerve in my body was telling me not to but i thought, whatever. i still got to do it. we robbed a drug dealer. i know you have money. i felt like i needed money. i was kind of struggling. i felt like sometimes it was my responsibility. someone died in the mix of it. that's why it was such a big situation for me. we were close. he happened to be with me that
day when i made the decision. i guess he wanted to come too. i was at bonaire for 2 1/2 years. i am not going to say they don't 100% help or don't help. they are trying. how do you help a 16-year-old that all their life all they know is violence? you can't just swoope swoop in stop doing it. you are telling me to go to the bathroom and they have the ability to help but maybe they just need to sit down and actually talk. when i went in, i was 18. when i came out, i was 20. it wasn't too different when i came home. it was just new buildings, buildings that they tore down, people i haven't seen in a while, kids that i used to babysit. they grew up. it was kind of like, wow, all
this is happening in just two years. before that, i was in detention for a few months and then i was on house arrest. i really didn't see anybody for three years. it was kind of like weird. in just three years, a lot has changed. i got used to it very fast. come home from work, i would just sit here. i was plik,like, i did it. i celebrated a lot by myself, walking around dancing, have a tv. what i wanted to watch and the music i wanted to listen to, just getting comfortable. i'm lucky to have the family that i had. i know if i lose this house, god forbid, i can go to my mom's house or my aunt's house and my grandma's house and a lot of kids didn't have that. it was shocking. they would go home and come back to bonaire multiple times. i personally talked to a few that have and some have said because they have three meals a day, clothes on their back, and
don't have to worry about struggling and frying to fix out where their next meal is going to be and where they are going to lay their heads. some people here don't have anyone on the streets. up there, they do. they have staff. they have people. you have got recreation. a lot of kids that don't have that, they do appreciate that. not a plot of people calot of p they do. >> so, nick, how did you find zakori? what was compel being her story? >> i was connected to her through the department of juvenile justice in virginia. i had spoken to a number of kids
through them, both in the facility and outside the facility. corey is a fascinating person and has a really amazing story. we talked a lot before we decided to do this interview. she was really open and very well-spoken on what she saw and what the issues were as she saw them. i connected with her and it made sense to talk to her. she has a great story. >> the clip left off with zakori going to welding school. what is she up to now? >> she is writing her entrance exams in richmond, virginia, for the military. >> she talked a lot about her support system and how she was really grateful to have a mother, grandmother, aunt, who could take her in if her situation turned sideways. she mentioned that wasn't the case for many of the people around her in bonaire.
who else did you meet there and what were their stories? >> part of the reason we decided to pursue a story in virginia, it has such a high rate of recidivism. 70 kids will be reaarrested after leaving bonaire. we wanted to talk to the kid on parole, kids diverted out of it. she summed it upper effectually there. a lot of the kid in detention don't have support networks and come from traumatic backgrounds. so if you go to a facility, most are going to be released. you are going back to the same situation that ended up getting you there in the first place. >> it seems like bonaire is far
away from where the population that is housed there is actually from. >> that's another thing particular to virginia. virginia has seen a very rapid decline in their inmate population in secure care facilities, facilities like bonaire. because of that, all of the facilities in the state closed, except for one. there is only one facility in all of virginia for kids sentenced to detention. that facility is about 20 minutes east of richmond. the majority of kids at bonaire come from three communities. that's norfolk, newport news and hampton, which are over an hour away. >> wow. this is one of three videos that you are participating in making. tell me about the subjects of the other videos. >> this is one of three videos, also part of a longer documentary. of the other three videos, we
spoke to a young man, marquez jackson, who is currently in bonaire serving a juvenile life sentence. he is from the d.c. area. his family is also very far away. he has trouble getting visitation. then, the third is another young man named darian. he was diverted out of secure care. he was convicted of a number of charges. instead of being sent to bonaire, he went into a diversion program where he is living in an apartment paid for by the department of juvenile justice in virginia beach. >> what did you learn between the differences in those three experiences? how does the arc of this series help us learn more about juvenile detention in general. >> i think what we wanted to do with this series is tackle the idea of juvenile justice being this effort of rehab bill tation
for juveniles in secure care, the goal is rehab bill tation. i think there is an effort on diversion programs, basically, going to a facility far away, removed from the communities where the kids will be returning to isn't working. they are trying to find ways to get facilities closer to the kids or keep the kids out. >> so bonaire is the last juvenile facility in the state of virginia. it is part of a system you just said is not working in numerous ways. what is the future of this facility? >> they are trying to close it. the director of the department of juvenile justice submitted a
proposal to open a facility in the chesapeake region, which would be an hour's drive. it would be 25 minutes away from each of them. unfortunately, it was rejected by the local town counsel. amongst advocates, there was a feeling this was still too large. it was a 60 bed facility amongst the local community. there was a feeling it could affect property values. it was shut down. as i understand it, there is another proposal in the works also in that region. as of yet, it is an on going effort. >> absolutely. when we talk about reforming parts of the criminal justice system, reducing the juvenile population seems like an aspirational goal. many people believe that is an ideal circumstance. did you see any resistance or problems with the way this is playing out in practice? >> i think as the population declines, you are starting to
see the problems even more clearly. a decade ago, there was over 1300 kids in secure care in virginia. now, there is 208 boys and girls at bonaire. the racial disparity is greater. all the kid i spoke to were african-american. in virginia, if you are african-american, your seven times more likely to be arrested than your white counterparts. >> i want to close out by talking about your experience reporting. what kind of stuck with you. bha w what was your first impression of bonaire?
it took me a while to find it. it is kind of tucked away in the woods. when i walked in, at first it seemed like kind of an old school. there is a school on campus. then i got into the maximum security side and it felt like a maximum security adult prison. so it is massive. it is really big. it is split up into the plaquma security side and schools. it struck me as being very large and complicated. in terms of using the v.r., that was a decision we took early on. we were interested in trying out story telling with this. it is something that is particularly suited to these sort of stories.
we we had concerns about protecting the kids' identity. we wanted to bring people in to give them a better idea of exactly what this felt like and what these kids were going through. >> we are looking forward to seeing the other two shorts in the feature. thank you so much. >> nang yo . >> thank you, nic and adrian. we are going to finish the morning with looking at the particular experience women have in prison. we are delighted to welcome tapika sam. she is founder and executive directory of the ladies of hope ministries, dedicated to helping women re-enter life on the
outside after time behind bars and piper kerman, the author of the best selling memoir, "orange is the new black:my ye my year prison." "the atlantic" jillian white is back to lead the conversation. >> piper, i think people are familiar with your life story but only in the small swath from the book and also from the show. can you talk to us about wlau have been up to since you published the book? >> the book was published in 2010. i was so fortunate to have the opportunity to write it, to be able to sort of make sense of this experience of incarceration and to think about how my own personal experience related to this much broader question of
mass incarceration, the issues of race and class and gender that are present in this conversation today. the netflix adaptation of the book was released first in 2013. that was a trip. in 2015, i moved to ohio from brooklyn, which is where i had lived for a long time. i moved there to teach in one of the men's prisons, one of the men's state prisons and the primary women's prison. there are three facilities that house women in the state of ohio. the main one houses, incarcerates 2600 women. so i have been there for about three years working with a lot of students. at this point, we have had about 30 students go through the program. the program is quite intensive. at this point, we began
collaborating last year with a university in ohio, which is conferring i college credits to my students. that's been face nating experience to get the opportunity to work with both men and women on their personal narratives. they are writing personal narrative, nonfiction. many would call it a memoir writing class. their stories are tremendous. they are astonishing, heartbreaking, hilarious. they are enraging sometimes. people choose to write about what is most important to them. the goal of doing that work and why i went to ohio, we need far more stories to come out of the correctional experience and the much broader experience of criminal justice system involvement in order for us to
really understand this sort of beast that we have constructed over 40 years with a long legacy of racial and class violence, backing it up. this question is for both of you. you mentioned 2010, when the book came out. we are almost a decade past. what changes do you believe have happened in the criminal injustice system when we talk about women that are incarcerated in the past decade? >> i would say that, first, more women have been incarcerated. i have heard throughout the day that people have talked about that. also, i'm going to lend my remarks, if i can for a moment, and dedicate them to ramona brant, a sister of ours that just passed away this weekend. she received clemency from president barack obama about two years ago. she served 21 years in prison
for a first-time offense, nonviolent. my heart is broken but also i'm angry, because this didn't have to happen. she was a victim of abuse. she was a battered woman. when i think about my experience of incarceration, it pales in comparison to her and the many women that are intacarcerated. when we think about the federal system, where both piper and i were, they are incarcerated for life. in federal prison, life means death. when these laws are changing or new laws are introduced, there is no retro activity. so people are still staying in prison. if someone would have gotten arrested today for the same crime, they wouldn't have the same type of disgusting sentence. my heart is really heavy.
ramona is a brilliant, graceful woman. she stepped out of prison and gave her life to fighting for the injustices of the system and also for the sisters that she left behind. it is frustrating to know from the time she was intars ratedcan 1994 to her being released in 2015 or when you said 2010, that much has not changed. >> piper, do you see any big changes or do you agree with topeka that the baseline is the same? >> when we look at the question of reforming the criminal justice system or transforming it, which might be perhaps better than reforming it. we have seen progress in areas like the juvenile justice system in terms of reducing the number of kids that are locked up in prison. though, as the previous session revealed, things like racial
disparity are even more striking. sometimes we don't address some of the most problematic and unacceptable injustices. so when it comes to women, though, in the system, i think ironically, even though there is far more discussion of the situation for women and girls in the system, we have seen far less progress in terms of reducing the number. so in many places in this country, the number of men who are being incarcerated, has either been reduced or flatlined a little bit, has plateaued. in most places in in country, the incarceration for women continues to increase. in ohio where i live, the incarceration for rate for women keeps on going up. many of those commitments are for very short sentences. i always think that when we talk about women and girls in the system, those examples afford us a very ordinary, everyday
example of this incredible commitment to punishment in this country. so whether we talk about the death penalty or when we talk about the fact that we are the only nation in the world that sentences children to die in prison, juvenile life without parole sentences. those are very harsh sentences, obviously. they tend to attach to very serious crimes and serious acts of violence. when we look at women and girls in the system, what we see is far too many women like ramona who essentially have their lives stolen from them. i can't overemphasize that ramona brant, who was a remarkable human being, just to meet her a few times, you are like, wow, that's a spirit we can all learn from. her offense just wasn't that different than mine. she was involved in a relationship with someone who was involved with narcotics just like i was. she had never been arrested or
charged with a crime before, just like i was. i received a 15-month sentence and she received a life sentence. we have to look at why that is. it is overwhelmingly about race, access to justice, access to couns counsel. these things have not been trance pormd transformed in the system. we have to get down to the nitty-gritty and where these sentences are happening. in ohio, there is a small rural county in between columbus and cleveland, crawford county. the corrections folks told me for years and years they would send an average of two women into the system. they were sending an average of
two women to prison, to state prison. a new judge was elected and sent 62 women to prison. it is the combination of the action of judges and prosecutors that are sending women into the system for drug offenses and property crimes and often for very low-level ones. that has not stopped. >> topeka, i am wondering if you can talk about the discrepancy that happens based on income, based on race. how have you seen that affect who winds up incarcerated and how does that affect some of the work that you do? >> it definitely, as piper brought up, everybody knows that race is a driver of incarceration and mass incarceration as a whole. the same with women. women have been kidnapped from the streets into the system, which is despairingly against people and communities of color. for me, and the work that i do,
being a woman of color first and a formerly incarcerated woman, my drive is to help to make sure that women have a platform to use their voice to make sure we are making the recommendations for legislative change and at the table and also that we are leading the work and providing the resources our sisters need when they come home. we know what we need first. when i came home, there were other formerly incarcerated women that took me up under their wing and said, this is what you should do. this is what you want to do. let me show you how to do it. it wasn't the systems in place. it was not probation and parole. it was not anyone who was surveillance over our communities. we have to tie it into policing and what's happening with policing and what's happening with criminalization of people of color. it is the same. it is directly tied in. the only way that we can really dismantle the system -- in a
perfect world, we would love to transform it, right? you cannot reform something that is in place as people have said time and time again in order to do exactly what it has done. disrupt communities of color and break our families apart. for me, we need to come to grips with its about race. look at where we have come from. look at where we want to go and really put those things in to implement new programs and changes and new laws that will take our people out of prison first and keep our people from going in. >> when we think about some of the legislation that is being pushed forward, when we think of some of the work that's being done on criminal justice reform, it always seems to be centered on men, obviously. i am wondering if you guys think that specific legislation and programs need to be tailored towards formerly incarcerated
women to deal with challenges we face. >> right now, in my role as director for the dignity campaign, formerly incarcerated women through the national counsel had helped to draft this legislation. i believe senator booker had spoken for the dignity for incarcerated women act. they need to get their basic hygiene needs met. it is terrible to write legislation that children are within proximity of their parents so we don't have to continue to dismantle and break our family unit. within that, i want to take a minute to say i heard earlier about human rights and us looking at this as humanity. we have to stop saying, you know, as i come in to my political place in this world, left and right, and blue and red and all these other things instead of looking at it from right and wrong and how do we
really make these changes to make sure that we, as women and as people within this country, are doing what's right by their people. the dignity for incarcerated women act, we believe in it. despite all of our work, most of our work wanting to decriminalize and deencarcerate. >> i am wondering if you notice any differences with the men and women with their experiences and stories they are telling as you work with them. >> i echo everything that topeka said. it is sort of astonishing that we have to try to legislate things that are in the dignity act. that needs to be passed and also working at the state level. we have to hold state governments accountable as well. the federal government and federal legislation will only do certain things. we have to work on many fronts.
it is often observed there are really 3,000 criminal justice systems to contend with. some of the other things that have gotten more attention and have gaining more steam and are having more proof points will benefit women like bail reform or the abolition of cash bail. we know that the front end of the system has to be our focus even as we try to make existing correctional facilities more human and rehabilitative. even as we work to make sure that people have safe return home and the opportunity to succeed. >> when i think about my students in both facilities, in the women's facility and the men's facility, what you start to see is all of those factors, like bail and access to justice at the very beginning of contact with the criminal justice
system. you start to see all of the issues on what is the safety that a person might return home to and are they returning home to substance use disorder issues or break in access to health care, if they have mental health concerns or other chronic disease concerns but what you really see overwhelmingly is this experience of trauma. we know that the rates of trauma survival for incarcerated women and girls are 80% to 90%. they are astonishingly high. after three years of teaching in a immediamedium security men's facility, my students survival of trauma is astonishingly high. we often think and talk about when we ask for gender responsive programming for women and girls. the men in my classes have also survived sexual violence and
exposure to violence at a heartbreaking young anyone. they interpret it differently because of gender. they by think about it in really different terms than we do as women because of some of these inequalities which are present in the community and more dramatic and exacerbated in a place like a prison or a jail. a prison or a jail is a place that is built to be unequal. it is inherently hierarchical, dominate and functions under the threat of violence. that's how a prison or jail works. we put people in a prison or jail. one of the ways we keep them there is by the threat of violence. the idea that people who have survived violence, that is tethered into those same inequalities will do well and prosper and get better and come home restored in a setting like
that is very questionable. also, if someone's offense is related to those kind of hierarchies and inequalities. i feel like most violence stems directly from inequality. prisons and jails reinforce those ideas and behaviors so there's this fundamentally problematic idea of thinking that a prison or jail can restore people and bring them home safe. >> i want to let our audience know that we'll save time for questions at the end, condense them all the way down and also make sure they are questions. i want to talk about reentry, especially when we talk about women of color. think about reentry and the challenges there, we often think about men, black men, coming back to their communities and the challenges they face trying to reinsert themselves. can you talk about the unique needs that meet women when they are released, particularly women
of color? >> think about having to reyuanreyuan reyuanfy families, getting children who have been broken up, whether it be foster care or a parent or grandparent. they're not able to connect. thinking about health care, do we have affordable health care in this country, which we don't, yet women of color don't have access to these things. then the issues that women of color -- uterine fibroids and things that we go through specifically and being on home monitor. i'll give you a prime example of when i have the ankle shackle on and i had uterine fibroids and i had to have surgery and i could not get a certain test done because the machine wouldn't allow know go through with that on my ankle yet they would not remove it. so by the time i was able to get off and actually have the test done, the fibroid went from 10 centimeters to 16. and so i had to have a full
myomectomy when it could have been partial so these things, not having -- they may not have done it to someone else but i know they did it to me. and think about access to education, access to being within spaces that actually give opportunity for job placement. when i was in danbury, thinking about gender responsive programings and things, they offered us for adult continuing education program knitting and crocheting for women. how is thatting a which you willy going to help a woman return and be marketable and help them get a job to sustain themselves? . and housing being the number one thing people need when they come home. and safe housing. in new york they go to a shelter which is typically debilitated, there's a lot of violence and things happening within there. new york if you want to have your children back, say you have a son and a daughter, they require you to have a
three-bedroom apartment. so i know how much i pay for a one bedroom apartment in new york and, you know, imagine just coming home thinking about getting your children back, right? and then these places don't even have enough beds to even house a woman. most of them are -- maybe could be 100 beds and ten dedicated to women so what we did in new york was created hope house which is a safe housing space for women and girls and even with our five rooms in the house for the women, we're having community pushback so it's internalized racism within your community. you're coming back into the same communities you left and they're saying great, but not in my backyard. so all these different things you have to face. and also having to worry about being under surveillance, having random drug tests when maybe you don't take drugs, having to continue to be dehumanized and demoralized and treated as if you are still whatever the
system felt that you were and so i know just again from being a woman of color and having access to resources when i came home that i was not treated any different so i can only imagine the sisters that did not have that access and resources and how they have been treated and it's why i do and we do the work that we do. when we have an opportunity, i know people want to know how they can help and i know there's organizations ran by sisters right here in d.c. like the wire and like mission launch and make sure you connect with these sisters here so you can help them to push their work forward. >> i want to make -- sorry. >> i would only reinforce that question about housing, topeka covered so many of the things that face women coming home. we know there are some consistent shared challenges for men and women but that housing question is so significant for women because when you think about men being released from
prison, often they have a mother, a sister, a girlfriend or a wife or -- there's someone generally a woman who's going to offer them safe haven and that is much less true for women returning home out of that system. and for women -- safe housing is important for men but men and women have different questions and considerations when it comes to being safe and that -- i mean, that's why hope house is so important and other work like that, susan burton's work in l.a. >> that's what we're modeled after. >> really important point. >> for sure. >> i want to make sure i give the audience a chance if you have any questions. >> analise. this relates to the federal system. i think the u.s. -- the assistant u.s. attorney earlier said that the federal system is doing basically well, really
well, and -- but to point it out that there are 16,000 people on the waiting list in the federal bureau of prisons for literacy programs so how is it doing well? and for basic programs like that and the other point i wanted to make is in touching on parents and locating these prisons in very remote rural areas there's a prison right now that is slated -- a federal prison, a congressman got a half billion dollars in, it's sitting there, the trump administration says the population has gone down for four years in a row. we don't need it. it's a matter of resources. >> thank you.
>> hello, ladies. i am tracy mckissic, i'm from detroit, michigan, i'm a retired principal and my girls fought worse than the boys and my students were amazing but the resources available for young girls and high school to deal with assault, the violence in the home, the poverty that we dealt with, what would you think would be some of the things that could be done to help educators like myself, to help the young women. because their families were -- a lot of my kids were families were -- everybody had somebody in jail or just come out of jail and it affected the family. >> what can be done to help educators help kids? >> yes. >> well, i can touch on that. there's a youngster named kendia riley, both of her parents are
incarcerated in the federal prison since she was two years old and she talked about the fact that she was upset, of course, your paurrents are goneo she acted out because she didn't have resources to help her with trauma so she acted out. yet what helped her is there were educators who connected her with her parents. so what's important, if you can identify children or young girls, boys, whomever who has a parent who's incarcerated that you make sure they're able to connect, whether it be letter writing, e-mail access, whether it be even maybe taking time to take them to see their parents. >> i think that i echo your identification of the problem. my father taught primary school and taught fifth grade and was like -- we always knew which kids were going -- like the pathways were really clear and the resources were not there.
you can observe that we fail to put the resources where they need to be. we fail to put a kid who is struggling in a traditional education setting in school because we know the minute a kid leaves the education system their chances of going into the criminal justice system just went way, way up. all of these overlapping systems, foster care, the juvenile justice system, the school systems. they function currently to funnel poor people and vastly disproportionately poor people of color into prisons and jails and they are there to employ people in rural areas where we have built up this incredible state. but it's a formidable challenge but we need to spend our money not building edifices to racism and punishment and investing them the communities that are most in need.
[ applause ] >> everyone please join me in thanking topeka and piper. >> thank you, piper kerman, pan topeka sam and all our speakers. when senator booker was on stage he talked about having an epiphany about when he began to learn things about in particular women in prison and my hope is at the end of this day -- which has been a long morning and i'm awed by how many of you have stayed sort of wrapped in your seats, i hope that even though many of you are super sophisticated about what the subjects and conversations were here today that you, too, learned something and found this a valuable experience. my great thanks to google for making this morning and this conversation possible and for their support of the defining justice series. the atlantic will continue to cover this story on stage,
online, on video and in the pages of a magazine and on behalf of the atlantic, my special thanks to all of you, our audience, we know how precious your time is and we're grateful you spent so much of your time with us this morning. so with that, have a wonderful afternoon. [ applause ] the funeral service for reverend billy graham is under way and you can watch it live on c-span, it's being held at the billy graham library in charlotte, north carolina. again, live coverage is on c-span. liberty con is taking place this week end in washington, d.c. it's a series of speakers, panels and workshops about public policy hosted by a libertarian student organization
called students for liberty. our live coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. eastern on c-span 2 with a conversation between political commentator dave rubin and reason tv chief editor nick gillespie. tonight, listen to the supreme court oral arguments over whether government workers have to pay union dues if their job is represented by a union. the case of janus versus american federation of state, county and municipal employees council 31 is tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. this weekend, c-span cities tour takes you to shawnee, oklahoma. shawnee's growth was fuelled by the railroad industry and the area suz settled after the civil war by native american tribes. with the help of our broadband cable partners, we'll explore the literary scene and history of the area. on saturday at noon eastern, author carol sue humphreys with her book "the american revolution and the press, the
promise of independence." >> in the years between the french and indian war and the american revolution, the actual fighting started, newspapers again played an important part in letting people know what the arguments were, what the issues were and also getting them involved in standing up against britain when they were mad about taxes or other issues. then on sunday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv, a visit to the citizen potowattomi nation cultural heritage center. hear about the forced removal of indians. >> we highlight one particular removal that refer to as the trail of death. it happened same year as the cherokee trail of tears,ing we left our homelands within a few days of each other. this is a particularly heart-breaking and gut-wrenching
removal, our ancestors who were removed on this were ones who refused to negotiate with the federal government so agents called a treaty council and asked people to meet add the village in twin lakes, indiana, what is today twin lakes, indiana. and our ancestors had to walk 660 miles from our homeland in northern indiana to a reservation in kansas. >> watch c-span cities tour of shawnee, oklahoma, saturday at noon eastern on c-span 2's book t. a working with our cable affiliates as we explore america. the nation's governors talk about agricultural issues at their recent governors meeting. first, we hear from australian prime minister mall couple
turnbull who spoke to the governors about the economic interests of his country and the u.s. involving security, trade and infrastructure. >> now for the main event. it's my honor to welcome our first speaker and distinguished guest, the australian prime minister malcolm turnbull. thank you for joining us today in continuing our dialogue about how we can work in partnership to grow our economies together. for those of you who do not know, the prime minister's address is especially timely as 2018 marks 100 years since our two countries became allies in world war i. since 1918, our relationship has grown beyond just military