Our organization’s goal is to facilitate conversations that explore these issues from a fundamental and analytical perspective. The way we approach each issue is to conduct primary research, recruit experts from all sides, seek supporters to help fund the discussions, and invite as broad and public of an audience as we can get. Through that process it is Impact’s view that we can help people put down political biases and seek first to understand the issue, agree on areas of improvement, and solutions to achieve those outcomes.
My view isn’t necessarily Impact’s so that’s important to separate. From my 6 months working on that issue my biggest reflections were:
- There is more support on the topic of prison reform than almost any issue. It is a uniting issue vs. a dividing one and I was very impressed to see how many people from different backgrounds wanted to improve our approach.
- The role of crime and punishment in any society is important and any reforms must not forget that there are victims who need comfort, compensation, and justice.
- We should ask ourselves more rigorously if there are populations we are seriously trying to rehabilitate or introduce back into society after incarceration and whether our systems are really designed and operated to actually facilitate that. I think we could make significant progress here.
- I worry that we have over-criminalized certain behaviors in areas of particularly low socio-economic means. This must be done as a careful study not a broad brush. Tools to address this might be supervised release, community service, reduction of bail, investigatory statistics etc. especially for non-violent offenders.
- The role of the private sector in housing prisoners should probably be reviewed. At the same time, I’m fairly open to private organizations assisting with education, training, and rehabilitation. I’m broadly open to efforts to train, educate, and prepare the incarcerated to be reintroduced to the working world and to try to reduce the stigma of that in early job applications etc.