"This is what we know, and we know it better than anyone else." --from the introduction by Vivian Nixon and Daryl V. Atkinson
A thoughtful and surprising cornucopia of ideas for improving America's criminal justice system, from those most impacted by it
When The New Press, the Center for American Progress, and the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted Peoples and Family Movement issued a call for innovative reform ideas, over three hundred currently and formerly incarcerated individuals responded. What We Know collects two dozen of their best suggestions, each of which proposes a policy solution derived from their own lived experience.
Ideas run the gamut: A man serving time in Indiana argues for a Prison Labor Standards Act, calling for us to reject prison slavery. A Nebraska man who served a federal prison term for white-collar crimes suggests offering courses in entrepreneurship as a way to break down barriers to employment for people returning from incarceration. A woman serving a life sentence in Georgia spells out a system of earned privileges that could increase safety and decrease stress inside prison. And a man serving a twenty-five-year term for a crime he committed at age fifteen advocates powerfully for eliminating existing financial incentives to charge youths as adults.
With contributors including nationally known formerly incarcerated leaders in justice reform, twenty-three justice-involved individuals add a perspective that is too often left out of national reform conversations.