Even though research shows that African American males are no more likely to use or sell drugs than Caucasian males, in at least 15 states they are admitted to prison on drug charges at rates 20 to 57 times higher. Some law students are drawn to pursue legal careers with the goal of bringing positive change to these and other statistics and to impact the criminal justice system on a neighborhood level. What can law students do to learn more about what restorative justice means and help to build a better criminal justice system professionally?
In this episode of the ABA Law Student Podcast host Fabiani Duarte invites guest host Amanda Joy Washington to sit down with organizer, law student, and activist Ruby-Beth Buitekant to discuss restorative justice and the Black Lives Matter movement. Ruby-Beth opens by sharing some of her early work experience with the Center for Court Innovation, through the Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets program, and discusses the transformative effects the program has had on her Crown Heights, Brooklyn neighborhood. She then explores the concept that humans should be free of state and interpersonal violence, an approach that is the basis for a lot of her work. The group then analyzes the use of disruption as a tactic in activism and ponder the statement “All Lives Matter” that has arisen in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Ruby-Beth then wraps up the discussion with some information on how law students can get more involved in, and learn more about, restorative justice.
A big motivator for some individuals to attend law school is the ability to positively influence the communities from which they come. However, what assistance can a lawyer provide for their neighborhood if they feel the community is being unfairly targeted by law enforcement? How can members of the profession have a positive effect on incarceration rates through the application of restorative justice techniques?
In this episode of the ABA Law Student Podcast, host Fabiani Duarte, along with guest host Andrew Scott and guest attorney Sarah Walton, take a look at mass incarceration in our criminal justice system and how restorative justice concepts could be applied. Sarah begins the interview by explaining her self-proclaimed moniker as a “free range attorney and abolitionist” and gives some insights into what those labels mean to her. She then talks about her work to help reduce the number of incarcerations through programs like pre-arrest diversion and some restorative justice tactics that law enforcement can implement to ensure the safety of all parties involved. The group then takes a moment to reflect on the disparate effects that The War on Drugs has had on low income communities and how new harm-reductive approaches to drug policing can improve public safety. Sarah then wraps up the discussion with an analysis of the stigma citizens returning from incarceration face in their communities and the things that law students can do, like attending court proceedings, to support members of their communities.
When it comes to a capital case, prosecuting or defending an individual whose life rests on the verdict can be a personal struggle. How does a lawyer cope with the loss of a client and what restorative justice options can they seek in lieu of the death penalty?
In this episode of the ABA Law Student Podcast, host Fabiani Duarte and guest host Linsey Addington speak with Professor Sarah Gerwig Moore and Dr. Melissa Browning about the death penalty and ways restorative justice concepts can be used in capital cases. Sarah and Melissa begin by listing a few concepts and common misconceptions, such as the cost to the taxpayer for executing an inmate, that they believe should be considered when approaching the death penalty debate. Dr. Browning then goes into detail about how she learned about the Kelly Gissendaner case and what inspired her to get involved in seeking parole for Gissendaner. Professor Moore also gives some insight into her experience of being lead counsel seeking clemency for a death row inmate named Josh Bishop and explains the type of relationships lawyers can develop with these clients. The group then considers processes within the criminal justice system where restorative justice concepts can be applied and how these concepts, like seeking life without the possibility of parole, can reduce death row executions and promote communal well being.