National leaders converging at Livingstone to discuss criminal justice reform
Livingstone will host some of the leading voices of criminal justice reform on Wednesday during a town hall meeting in partnership with the national group, Reform Alliance.
The meeting, titled “Criminal Justice Reform: A Critical Conversation,” will begin at 3 p.m. at Varick Auditorium and is open to the public.
The panelists will include Robert Rooks, CEO of Reform Alliance; Daryl Atkinson, co-director and co-founder of Forward Justice; Stephen Bishop, associate director for probation and system transformation with the Annie E. Casey Foundation; Bishop W. Darin Moore, Mid-Atlantic Episcopal District, AME Zion Church; and Livingstone SGA President Justin Wade.
Karen Boykin-Towns, vice chair of the NAACP National Board of Directors, will bring greetings.
Reform Alliance is launching its partnerships with HBCUs at Livingstone College. The nonprofit organization was founded by recording artist Meek Mill alongside Michael Rubin, a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers; Grammy award-winner Jay Z; and Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, among other world-class philanthropists.
The organization’s start began with what it calls the unjust re-imprisonment of Meek and the shocking two-to-four year sentence he received for popping a wheelie that spurred the international #FreeMeek movement. Meek served five months before being released.
Though he had the resources and public platform to fight his case, he decided to use his power to help the millions more who are trapped by the system. Reform’s mission is to transform probation and parole by changing laws, systems and culture to create real pathways to work and wellbeing.
In addition to the panel discussion, the town hall will include Q&A, short videos on Reform’s work, and prize giveaways for students including $500 and $1,000 cash grand prizes.
Georgette “GiGi” Dixon, head of External Relations for Wells Fargo, will serve as moderator.
According to Reform’s website, there are 6.6 million people in the United States’ criminal justice system and 4.5 million of those are on probation or parole. Probation and parole failures account for 45 percent of all state prison admissions.
“Right now people under probation or parole make up the vast majority of our criminal justice system, yet the issue has received relatively little attention,” Reform website reads. “Our probation and parole programs were originally intended to hold people accountable and serve as an alternative to incarceration. But they have become a leading contributor to jail and prison populations. Essentially, they are a set-up for re-incarceration.”
Dr. Latarcia Barnes, interim chair of criminal justice and sociology at Livingstone College, is a former probation and parole officer. “I think this is a great opportunity for our students because it will allow them to have a different aspect of the criminal justice system. They are our future criminal justice practitioners and to have this program come to our campus will inspire them to make changes from within the system,” she said.
Since its inception in 2019, Reform has had some major wins, working to pass reform bills in California, Michigan, Georgia and New York, among others.
Meek was awarded the Nelson Mandela Changemaker Award in 2021 for his work with Reform.
“We are honored that Reform Alliance chose Livingstone College to launch its partnerships with HBCUs. We welcome this opportunity that affords us to be a part of a national conversation in addressing criminal justice reform,” said Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr.
To learn more about Reform, visit its website at reformalliance.com