Caitlin Trussell for Faithful Thursday (Denver) on January 23, 2020
[Faithful Thursdays is a diverse coalition of leaders, organizations and community members whose focus is to advance a faith narrative and collaborative process that supports human dignity, promotes equity, and eradicates racism in Colorado. Multi-faith public events are held every other Thursday at or near the Colorado State Capitol throughout the 2020 legislative session and are open to anyone who would like to attend. Learn more at faithfulthursdays.org]
There were other people presenting about their concerns related to Criminal Justice Reform and Mass Incarceration. Here are my remarks:
As the descendant of slave owners, I’m convicted by how easily people excuse what they would call “normal” or even “necessary evils” and how slavery is shaped both deliberately and insidiously into new forms. Mass incarceration is the new form of slavery in our present time – especially for brown and black folks. It takes will, persistence, and demand to eradicate slavery in whatever form it takes. The will to be in relationship across differences of skin color and faith traditions; the persistence that creates power, and the demand that things change. In the spirit of will, persistence, and change, I share with you Together Colorado’s Transforming Justice Team’s vision statement.
“Together Colorado’s Transforming Justice Team is a multi-faith community working towards a vision of a merciful, rehabilitative justice system that maintains the hope and human dignity of every person within it, on all sides of the law. From the beginning of any encounter with law enforcement officers, through jails, the courts, prisons, and back into life outside, every step of the system must be radically devoted to the healing and restoration of all those who are part of it. We are organizing for a transformed justice system that reckons with and undoes its role in upholding the legacy of slavery and white supremacy and that insists on equitable care for all persons inside and outside of that system.”
With our vision leading us, Together Colorado Transforming Justice Team’s goal is to reduce the prison population in Colorado by 40 % in the next 10 years. We will achieve that goal by working on the three pillars that hold up the Criminal Justice System – cops, courts, and cages. From the first interaction with law enforcement including apprehending, arresting, and detaining people who are presumed guilty; to the channeling of people through cash bail, plea bargaining, and sentencing; to the warehousing of these folks in massive buildings designed to dehumanize or banding their ankles with the shackles of community corrections; we have the will, we are persistent, and we demand change especially for the black and brown folks who disproportionately represent this new evolution of slavery.
During the next couple of weeks, Together Colorado will determine which pieces of legislation the entire organization will empower for change. Stay tuned for ways to use your will and persistence to demand change through upcoming legislation.