Catching Stones | December 01, 2017
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Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

—Proverbs 31:8-9, NIV


“What I know of being human comes from being a prison activist”

In this episode on CBC Radio, Halifax poet and activist El Jones shares a powerful spoken word on restorative justice and the lives behind bars. Exploring the humanity that binds us all and the hidden stories behind inmates’ behavior, Jones delivers a beautifully cadenced poem whose smoothness belies hard-hitting words. Listen to Jones’ spoken word here.


We are Witnesses

Enter this fascinating glimpse into the world of the United States’ criminal justice system. We are Witnesses, from The Marshall Project, documents the stories of 18 people whose lives have been intimately affected by the criminal justice system. From former judges to police officers, former inmates to parents of a murdered son, We are Witnesses provides firsthand perspectives on the millions of lives touched by the U.S. criminal justice system. Bear witness here.


“We’re shifting the question”

Some schools are shifting from a zero-tolerance policy to one of restorative justice. With school punishments disproportionately linked to students of color and students with disabilities, school administrators, parents, policymakers, and educators are advocating for restorative practices as a means of stemming what has been called the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Read more about the underlying issues and the ongoing conversation here.


CSC Ontario has a new deputy commissioner

Scott Harris is the new head of the Ontario region for Correctional Service Canada (CSC). As the deputy commissioner for the region, Harris will oversee more than 3,000 staff. He holds a Master of Divinity in restorative justice and has extensive experience in the field. To Harris, restorative justice is a way to fulfill CSC’s mandate to “safely return offenders to the community when they can.” Read more about Harris here.


”If I just stay quiet, it would just keep going on”

On April 11, 2013, Melissa Hall gave birth at St. Francis Hospital in Milwaukee. But when it came time to cradle her newborn son, she had to be careful that her chains wouldn’t hit him. As an inmate at Milwaukee County Jail, Hall was shackled during her labor, childbirth, and postpartum care—a result of Wisconsin’s lack of laws restricting the use of restraints on pregnant inmates. Now, Hall is seeking to file a class-action lawsuit to end this practice at her former jail and hopefully others throughout the state. Read more about Hall’s quest here.


“You’ve got to be brave, brave, brave”

In this must-read memoir, Bryan Stevenson—lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative—weaves a heartbreaking, spellbinding tale of the broken justice system in the United States, coloring the pages with anecdotes and stories of his many clients—both painful and hopeful, sad and beautiful. Read Just Mercy for an eye-opening look into the U.S. criminal justice system and the hope that drives Stevenson and others like him to be stone-catchers.


Join a live webinar!

The National Criminal Justice Training Center of Fox Valley Technical College is hosting a three-part series on restorative justice and restorative practices. The second in the series occurs on Dec. 4, and will look at structural frameworks that provide support for restorative practices in schools, communities, and justice systems. Click here for more information and to register.


Smarter Sentencing

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) has released an action alert asking U.S. constituents to urge their senators to support the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2017. Reintroduced last month, this bill would focus resources on the most serious offenders and halve the length of mandatory minimum drug sentences, among other reforms. Support criminal justice reform—contact your senators here.