Let’s Talk Mass Incarceration

The New Florida Majority partook in a year-long project which was spearheaded by the collaborative efforts of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Forward Together, and Research Action Design with help from 23 partner organizations. Our North Florida Regional Organizer, Devin D. Coleman conducted research in North Florida  that contributed to a national community-driven report entitled; Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families, which was released on Tuesday, September 15, 2015. The report, “addresses the lack of representation and the misrepresentation of low-income communities of color in the design of smart solutions that can break the cycles of violence and poverty exacerbated by the criminal justice system at the local, state, and national levels”.

Read The Findings Of The Report Here

On Tuesday, September 15, 2015, TheNewFM hosted a report launch event in Jacksonville, Florida. There was a panel discussion that included expert panelist Greg Seymour, Cathy Dupont, Diallo Sekou, and Angie Nixon which was moderated by Dr. Irvin PeDro Cohen. They were joined by an audience filled with key organizational leaders and community stakeholders . The panel discussed the issues the report highlighted such as barriers obtaining housing, employment, and education from their professional perspectives as they service this particular demographic on an ongoing basis. Representative (FL) Mia Jones anchored our panel discussion by giving keen insight on how policy plays a role in the process. Representative Jones gave tips on how concerned individuals can get involved and/or reach out to elected officials in order to understand policy and how its formed and also be a part of the solution process.

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A national discussion on the research findings took place in Washington, DC with members of Congress and Congressional staffers on Thursday, September 17, 2015. New Florida Majority’s, Devin D. Coleman represented the state of Florida on a panel that discussed the findings from the report “Who Pays?  The True Cost of Incarceration on Families” with Congressional Staffers.  It was a packed room with 60+ individuals in attendance. Representative Judy Chu and Representative Keith Ellison spoke about their advocacy to this issues. Rep. Ellison went further  into discussing his deep commitment to the issue after the panel ended. During our panel discussion, Representative Bernie Sanders, who is running for President, tweeted about mass incarceration under the hashtag #JusticeNot4Sale.

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MIAMI, FL — In partnership with the Good Government Initiative, The New Florida Majority’s Miami team joined a diverse cross section of South Florida’s community that came together to talk about the crisis in policing and incarceration. Our Executive Director, Gihan Perera, joined Miami-Dade County’s Public Defender, Carlos Martinez, Police Department Director, J.D Patterson, and President of Spring4ward, Kevin Spring on the panel which he led the discussion with a question of “Are we at the end of mass incarceration?”. At the end of the conveersation they all came to the conclusion that “Time to focus on prevention, restorative justice and a return to rehabilitation over retaliation. People’s lives and the well-being of their families are at stake.”  — Katy Sorenson, Good Government Initiative

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Criminalization has become a phenomenon in this country that is being played out by the media as a new crisis but to many, this is a long proceeded issue within vulnerable communities. With the hype of mainstream media, stories that once seemed to never leave the communities affected by criminalization are now being spread Nationwide. As a country, we have completely skipped the parts of the conversation where we talk about the institutional fear of police that has become normal for people color. There is also a lack of conversation about the price it cost for families to continue to cycle through systematic oppression.

Click below to read articles on the report’s findings:

New York Times | Washington Post | ABC News