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What We Know: Solutions from Our Experiences in the Justice System

Regular price $ 26.99

Edited by Vivian Nixon and Daryl V. Atkinson

The New Press

6/30/2020, hardcover

SKU: 9781620975299


"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.


"A must-read collection of bold new criminal justice reform ideas from the true experts--those of us with firsthand knowledge of America's harsh and unjust criminal justice system." --Susan Burton, founder, A New Way of Life Reentry Project, and author of Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women

"What We Know demonstrates that solutions to the challenge of mass incarceration are often close at hand; the voices of people affected by the justice system show us the way forward to a public safety strategy that emphasizes dignity over punishment." --Marc Mauer, executive director, The Sentencing Project, and author of Race to Incarcerate

"An exemplary, welcome, and necessary contribution, by turns forceful, specific, personal, inspired, and insightful, delivered by those people most impacted. This should top everyone's reading list." --Nick Turner, director, Vera Institute of Justice

About the Editors:

The Reverend Vivian Nixon is executive director of College and Community Fellowship (CCF), a New York-based organization committed to removing barriers to higher education for women with criminal-record histories and their families

Attorney Daryl Atkinson was the inaugural Second Chance Fellow for the U.S. Department of Justice, and is now the co-director of Forward Justice, a law, policy, and strategy center in Durham, North Carolina, dedicated to advancing racial, social, and economic justice in the United States.