We Need to Talk About an Injustice

“One of every nine people sent to death row is found to be innocent and exonerated. Would you fly an airline that had that high an error rate?” asks Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, in a recent TED talk that garnered a standing ovation.

Stevenson breaks down the inhumanity of our criminal justice system by blending personal stories from his childhood, like how his grandmother tricked him into promising her three things, with hard-hitting facts. In 1972, “there were 300,000 people in jails and prisons,” he says, "today, there are 2.3 million,” even though violent crime hasn’t increased. Stevenson goes on to illustrate that communities of color and those with high rates of poverty make up a disproportionate percentage of people behind bars. Being wealthy, rather than being innocent, it seems, is the best way to avoid being locked up in the U.S.

“Our identity as a people is at risk,” he says, “when we don't care about difficult things, like poverty, inequality, and injustice in this country.”  Watch the talk for yourself and tell us what you think.

Bryan Stevenson is also member of the board of directors of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundations.

4 Comments

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Are you crazy?? It seems we need to make a choice, feed our prisoners or our children, educate our children or our prisoners, cloth our children or our prisoners, protect our children or our prisoners? Blow up all the prisons and if people are innocent they call that collateral damage. We need to spend our money on our future not crime or people that commit them!!!!!

Bryan, Good for you we need to fight for the criminal justice, they are still many innocent people accused, society look at them they are nothing, but they are some one who know the other side of system. willing to share and protect others. Keep doing what you are doing please never lose your sight.

I agree with the overarching point that Bryan and others are making: That to have 'safer communities' we've got to look at what makes them un-safe and -- instead of trying to sweep the root-causes of the problem under the carpet (where we don't have to look at them) -- we've got to stand accountable as a society for the unintended but very real and tremendously harmful damage being done to ALL of society by and through the current construct of our (fear-driven) 'criminal justice system'.

A long look needs to be taken at a judicial system that resorts to lies, innuendoes, and theatrics to win a conviction of an innocent person. Just to advance their career (i.e. A.G.'s office).

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