Earlier this year, I was on a work related trip at Pierce College in San Fernando Valley. This was early February.
Pierce College is two year community college, located in the Woodland Hills neighborhood, on the western edge of Los Angele's San Fernando Valley. This is a photo from the campus looking north towards the Santa Susanna Mountains. And a reminder how suburban much of Los Angeles really is.
Art work around campus was promoting a political commentary display the campus "Prison Nation."
The full name is "Prison Nation: Posters on the Prison Industrial Complex."
Above, various political commentary displays on what organizers refer to as the "Prison Industrial Complex." Below are a couple of examples:
"Capital Punishment means them without the capital get the punishment."
"One in Every Three Black Men Between the Ages of 20 and 29 will Spend Time in Jail."
Much of the wall space was dedicated to a graphic novel approach to the material on the criminal justice system in the US.
Organizers took stabs at both political parties. Above, the Crime Bill under Democratic President Bill Clinton.
... as well as criminal justice policies under Republican President George W. Bush. Did I give the display the time it deserved? Honestly, no. I had about ten minutes to look around.
Most of the photos and commentary on this blog tend to focus on the "best of" Los Angeles, often ignoring the he harder issues a major city faces. Sure, I've commented on traffic, the cost of housing, and homelessness - as well as my Christian faith. It's easy to comment on from the sidelines - solutions are much much harder. I'm certainly no expert in public policy.
But regarding what organizers call the prison industrial complex, wouldn't it make more sense - for example - for non violent criminals to make restitution for what they did? If someone embezzles from a company, wouldn't it make more sense to pay back the company (plus, of course fines) rather than a system of retribution?
I appreciate Prison Fellowship, a Christian ministry focused on prison reform, for challenging my thinking in this area years ago. It is the world's largest Christian nonprofit organization for prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and a leading advocate for justice reform.
Prison Fellowship has worked with members of Congress to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993), the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (2000), the Prison Rape Elimination Act (2003), the Second Chance Act (2008), the Fair Sentencing Act (2010), and the 21st Century Cures Act (2016) as well as a variety of state-level criminal justice reforms (source: wikipedia article).
Perhaps changes to the criminal justice system is something that people on from different political parties, as well as different faith backgrounds, can find at least some common ground in.
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