This week on Prison Pipeline: Toolkits for Reform - A Conversation with Wanda Bertram, Communications Strategist at the Prison Policy Initiative.
Criminal legal system reforms are being introduced at a rapid pace across the United States, often with the stated goal of reducing our extreme prison and jail populations. Too often, however, these reforms are handicapped because they exclude large categories of people impacted by the criminal legal system. These “carveouts” generally exclude people charged with or convicted of violent, sex-related, or other serious charges. This is sometimes referred to as focusing on the “non, non, nons” — nonviolent, non-sexual, and non-serious charges. “Serious” charges often include drug crimes that involve specific controlled substances, like fentanyl or methamphetamines. Too often, policymakers believe that these carveouts are politically necessary in order to pass legislation, or believe that they are actually good policy.
The Prison Policy Initiative has gathered a set of resources for advocates and policymakers to understand the problems posed by carveouts and equip them with arguments to make sure that criminal legal reform can be for everyone, not just for a small subset of impacted people. To discuss carveouts and this new toolkit, we're joined by Wanda Bertram, Communications Strategist at the Prison Policy Initiative.
Plus: According to the"Iron Law of Prohibition," the US war on drugs made the rise of fentanyl inevitable. Deaths from a toxic drug supply and overdose have risen dramatically over the last several years across all of that part of Abya Yala now referred to as North America. Reforms are making headway in various states and provinces but legislative change takes time, and while the drug warriors are bloviating and the political moderates are dithering, people are dying.
Individuals and organizations in harm reduction are working to save as many lives as they can and communities across the US are finally embracing some of the innovative interventions that have been proven effective by research and real-life experience around the world. Safer smoking kits are one such intervention. To learn more about safer smoking and other life-saving measures, we're joined by Haven Wheelock, Harm Reduction Services Manager at Outside In.