Should You Turn Yourself in on an Outstanding Warrant?

When someone has an outstanding warrant out for their arrest, they are left with the choice of waiting to be caught or turning themselves in. Courts often look positively at those who take responsibility for their actions and turn themselves in. Often the court will grant bail so you can go home while your attorney helps you to deal with your case.  

If you do not turn yourself in, you risk compounding an already serious legal issue and spending an unnecessary night or weekend in jail if you are picked up on a Friday. 

It is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney prior to making any decision regarding turning yourself in. Your attorney can contact the police department or Attorney General’s office prior to your surrender to negotiate the terms of your release.  

There are various ways in which you can deal with an outstanding warrant, but pretending that it doesn’t exist will not help.

At Nee Law, LLC, We Help Those in Rhode Island Who Have Outstanding Warrants

At Nee Law LLC, we understand what exactly is at stake when it comes to having a warrant out for your arrest and being charged with a crime. We know that the conclusion of such a situation has the ability to greatly impact your life as well as the lives of those around you. We want to help you move forward. Let Attorney Katie Nee help you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today.

What to Do If You’ve Been Accused of Sexual Assault on a College Campus

Sexual assault is a very serious crime.  This has recently been brought to the forefront of our minds by cases such as that of Brock Turner, who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside of a fraternity house. With much attention on these serious issues, college administrators are taking any allegations of sexual assault more seriously and cracking down on perpetrators much more harshly. 

Students who have been accused of such allegations will usually believe that by sharing their side of the story, the situation will simply go away. Unfortunately, that is usually not the way it works. Instead, an investigation will likely begin. 

College/University Investigation

Schools that receive federal funding must comply with Federal laws concerning sexual assault or rape on campuses such as those under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Clery Act. These laws contain strict steps that must be taken in order to prevent, and when needed, report, instances of sexual violence among students and faculty. 

Generally, schools will impose either suspension or expulsion. Those students who have been expelled from their school because of sexual assault or rape will find it difficult to be accepted into another reputable school. 

Criminal Investigation

In addition to the serious school-imposed penalties that you will likely face, the school administration or the person making the allegation will also likely report the alleged crime to local law enforcement, who will conduct their own investigation. Should the state find that you are guilty of criminal charges, you could face high fines, lengthy prison sentences, as well as long-term consequences such as lifetime registration as a sex-offender. 

What Constitutes Sexual Assault or Rape?

There are a few different situations that constitute sexual assault. These include:

  • Using force or the threat of force to make a person have sexual contact without their consent
  • Engaging in sexual contact with an individual who is unable to provide consent due to drugs or alcohol
  • Engaging in sexual contact with someone who is incapable of consent by way of mental, intellectual, or physical disability

The most serious form of sexual assault is rape. Rape occurs when non-consensual sexual intercourse occurs. However, regardless of which degree of sexual assault you have been charged with, a conviction could result in life-long negative effects and should be taken very seriously. 

Nee Law LLC Helps Those in Rhode Island Who Have Been Charged with Sexual Assault on Their College Campus

If you have been charged with sexual assault on campus, the ramifications of a conviction (or even only the accusation) can be enormous. Not only can it yield high fines and a lengthy prison sentence, but it can also have an impact on everything from your physical and mental health to your financial stability for the rest of your life. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorney. At Nee Law, we will fight to minimize or eliminate your charges. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today! 

Can I Terminate My Probation Early?

Many people contact me to see if they can terminate their probation early.   Before 2017, there was no way to do this. In 2017, the law changed to allow for early termination, assuming that certain criteria have been met. The legislation was part of a package of bills known as the “Justice Reinvestment Legislation.”

Requirements for Early Termination of Probation in Rhode Island

The state of Rhode Island, which has one of the highest rates in the country of individuals on probation, codified the rule as part of a statewide effort to reduce the number of its probationers. To qualify for early termination, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  1. You must have been on probation for at least three years within the state;
  2. You must have no violations of your probation over the last three years;
  3. You must not have any active no-contact orders against you;
  4. You must have completed all of the terms and conditions of your probation, including court fines, counseling, restitution, and community service;
  5. You must not have any other pending probation or any deferred sentence revocation proceedings filed against you;
  6. You must not be on parole in any state;
  7. You must not have any pending charges in any state; and
  8. You must not be serving a suspended sentence, be on probation, or be serving a deferred sentence in any other Rhode Island criminal case or another jurisdiction unless you were sentenced to probation at the same time for both and were allowed to have your probation run concurrently.  

Once an applicant meets all of the requirements, you must request a Certificate from your Probation Officer. Only then may you ask the Superior Court to end your probation early. 

At Nee Law LLC, we understand what exactly is at stake when it comes to getting off of probation.  Receiving early termination of probation can once again give you back your freedom to move on with your life without such restrictions. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Providence criminal defense attorney

At Nee Law, LLC, We Help Rhode Island Residents Terminate their Probation Early

To learn more about early termination of probation or to schedule a free consultation, visit us online or call us at 401-453-5633 today.

Studying Solitary Confinement in Rhode Island’s Prison Is A Good First Step

Thanks to the leadership of Representative Aaron Regunberg, last fall, the Rhode Island General Assembly created a commission to study the use of solitary confinement at the ACI. This is an important first step as, until now, no one in the state was even tracking the frequency and impact of solitary confinement. Shockingly, the state government was not studying whether solitary confinement is actually effective at establishing order and security at the prison. Even more concerning, they were not tracking whether solitary confinement damages the mental health of our citizens rather than “rehabilitating them”.

Despite this lack of understanding of the affects of solitary confinement, it is not uncommon for Rhode Islanders to spend a year or more in solitary, completely detached from any social interaction.

It’s well established that a large percentage of our citizens who are incarcerated at the ACI suffer from mental illness of some sort including bipolar disorder, borderline personality, severe depression, and anxiety. In fact, according to Louis Cerbo, director of behavioral health at the corrections department, in any given day, 400 to 500 inmates in the system are diagnosed as having serious, persistent mental illness. Mentally Ill Inmates Face Solitary Confinement in RI Prisons, Providence Journal, January 5, 2017.

Many public policy decisions have led to the incarceration of the mentally ill in a prison that does not and cannot adequately treat them. But as long as these Rhode Islanders are incarcerated in a prison setting, it is a moral and public safety imperative that they not be subjected to punishment that harms their mental health and makes us all less safe.

The vast majority of those incarcerated at the ACI will serve their sentence and be released. That’s why every Rhode Islander should care about what happens to every one of our citizens while they are incarcerated.

The Atlantic: A Blueprint to End Mass Incarceration, Published December 16, 2016

Much of the debate surrounding mass incarceration is centered on its statistics: The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prisoners; American prisons hold more inmates than Soviet gulags at their peak; a greater proportion of black Americans are imprisoned than black South Africans under apartheid. Now there’s a new figure worth remembering: 39 percent.

That’s the percentage of people in U.S. prisons who are “unnecessarily incarcerated,” a new Brennan Center study claimed last week. The report, which took three years to complete, studied criminal codes, criminal-justice research, and prison populations throughout the country to determine how many prisoners are incarcerated without a justifiable public-safety rationale. It concludes that 576,000 inmates currently locked up for crimes ranging from mail fraud to simple burglary could be swiftly released without endangering their fellow Americans.

Many of those Americans view incarceration as a largely punitive tool. But the report instead focuses on whether or not prison sentences reduce crime or enhance public safety. To that end, it outlines a series of alternatives that state legislatures and Congress could adopt, ranging from electronic monitoring to community service. The report also recommends redirecting the estimated $18.1 billion in annual savings from reduced prison costs into reentry programs and community policing, although it doesn’t otherwise focus on the impact of releasing half a million prisoners back into society.

It’s a bold, novel proposal to change the American criminal-justice system, and one sure to draw its share of supporters and critics alike. I spoke with Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, and Lauren-Brooke Eisen, the program’s senior counsel, about their report’s implications. Our conversation has been edited for style and clarity.

Matt Ford: One of the things that struck me about your report is a move away from the common focus on low-level nonviolent drug offenders and instead focusing on a much broader category of inmates. What led to that shift?

Inimai Chettiar: We wanted to step back and take a very data-driven look at who’s in prison and why, so we did not want to rule out any subsets of prisoners off the bat. It seems from our perspective that two of the main reasons that people are in prison and why we have mass incarceration are one, there are too many low-level offenders who should not be in prison at all, and two, that even those people who might warrant prison, they’re being sent to prison for way too long.

Ford: We hear a lot of folks on sentencing reform, but what this report actually advocates is just eliminating prison entirely for a certain set of offenses. How did you come to the decision to select these specific offenses, as opposed to more serious crimes? What was the balancing act?

Chettiar: So we actually came up with what we thought were factors that we could look at and [Lauren-Brooke Eisen] can get into them a little bit more. We looked at the full dataset of prisoners, so about 1.47 million prisoners, and we looked at each crime in terms of seriousness, victim impact, intent, and recidivism—all factors very much focused on public safety—and then made a recommendation based in research. A lot of research shows that if you put lower-level offenders in prison, it actually often increases the recidivism rate and can sometimes be counter-productive or not productive at all.

Ford: So for what kinds of crimes would imprisonment be eliminated? Are we talking about jaywalking, are we talking about mail fraud, or something more serious?

Lauren-Brooke Eisen: What we did is we looked at who should not be in prison at all, and that’s what you’re talking about right now, and those are more of the lower-level offenders: drug possession, minor larceny, minor property crimes, minor fraud and forgery, simple assault, minor trafficking of marijuana, even lesser burglary, and other minor drug offenses.

And then additionally we also looked at length of stays. A lot of the research we looked at indicated that prison may be justified in certain situations, especially for some more violent and egregious crimes. Our report looks at reducing the length of stay for some of the more serious crimes such as robbery, murder, aggravated assault, serious burglary, and that’s how we get to our 39 percent unnecessarily incarcerated number.

Ford: And that’s out of a U.S. prison population of about 1.5 to 2 million? What kind of practical efforts would this take to implement?

Chettiar: Just to answer your first question, it’s actually out of a prison population of 1.5 million. What makes up the difference between the 1.5 million and the 2.2 million are the people in jail. We initially wanted to include jails in our report, but due to problems gathering jail data—it’s very sparse and very hard to get—we ended up not including that. It’s 39 percent of 1.47 million, because we couldn’t get data from two states, so effectively it’s about 40 percent of 1.5 million.

Eisen: And then in terms of the recommendations, we suggest very concrete policy proposals and sentencing changes, such as eliminating prison for lower-level crimes entirely barring exceptional circumstances and reducing sentence minimums and maximums that are currently on the books. We suggest in the report that legislators consider a 25 percent cut at the starting point for the six major crimes, the ones I just listed, that make up the bulk of the nation’s prison population. We also suggest retroactively applying these suggested reforms, and then additionally we have some complementary recommendations looking at prosecutors and the role they can play in reducing mass incarceration, that they should be using their discretion and seek alternatives to incarceration or shorter sentences that are in line with the recommendations in our report.

Chettiar: And one of the things that I think is unique about our recommendations. There’s been a lot of people who have rightfully recommended that people in the criminal-justice system start using their discretion to reduce charges, to send people to alternatives. But we think it’s really important that these start with mandates from the law so that things are made more uniform. To really, really see the bold changes needed on incarceration, we think there really need to be actual changes to laws.

Ford: So in that sense, it almost sounds like less of a change of mindset in terms of how the criminal-justice system operates—you’re not going back to the old days of pure discretion, as we’ve seen some people advocate. You’re still keeping intact some sentencing guidelines, but you’re giving leeway, am I misinterpreting that?

Chettiar: That’s right, so what we’re saying is we don’t think the solution is to return to so much discretion. We think that that could exacerbate disparities. We think that that could also continue to fuel mass incarceration because it’s so dependent on individuals. We think the entire system needs to be reset, and it needs to be reset primarily through one principle, which is that the punishment should fit the crime. And that all the sentences to crime should be proportional to what the offense actually was, and that’s not the case in our current prison population. And there absolutely are exceptions. So what we’re recommending are that these are what we’re calling default sentences, so as a default, a person committing a lower-level crime should not be going to prison, except in exceptional circumstances. So a judge can look at if a person has a violent criminal history, or if a person has a mental-health or drug issue, so then they can depart up or down, depending on that.

Eisen: And to build on what Inimai just said, she mentioned proportionality and I think that’s a really important part of this report. When we look at lengths of stay, many of them are just far disproportionate considering their crime that was actually committed, and I think that’s a huge part of this report is just restoring some sense of proportionality and fairness to our justice system.

Ford: If I could go back real quickly to the idea of default sentences, which I think is a fascinating concept in terms of a paradigm shift: If I’m a legislator and I’m seeing a proposal to do away with prison for a variety of crimes, my natural reaction would be, “What do we replace that with?”

Chettiar: Research has shown that for lower-level crimes, alternatives like treatment, probation, community service, electronic monitoring, and fines that are calibrated to ability to pay are far more effective if the goal is public safety and reducing recidivism. And so those are what we are suggesting replace prison for this category of crimes, unless there’s some extenuating circumstance that you would want to sent the person to prison.

Ford: Is there any precedent for this sort of change to a criminal-justice system? We’ve seen all these experiments in states, I’m wondering if something like this has already been attempted.

Eisen: Absolutely, a lot of states have done similar things. One that comes to mind is South Carolina, and the reason I bring up South Carolina is because the state has had remarkable success. They have reduced their crime and incarceration rates so much so that they’ve closed two prisons, and I believe on top of that they’ve also closed a wing of another prison, so two-and-a-half prisons. What they did is they eliminated mandatory minimums for some drug possession crimes, but more significantly, they also authorized most lower-level offenders to take advantage of all of those things Inimai just mentioned in the community, such as electronic monitoring, probation, community service, fees and fines, instead of going to prison. They dramatically reduced their prison population, and they’ve had incredibly safe communities ever since. I think South Carolina is a great example of a state that has made some significant changes in this vein.

Additionally, other states have done similar things. Texas has reduced its prison population and used alternatives to incarceration instead of sending so many drug offenders to prison. Other states like Kentucky has presumptive probation for low-level drug crimes so in a state like Kentucky, a judge is not even authorized to send someone to prison barring exceptional circumstances for certain crimes.

Ford: You mentioned something interesting about South Carolina being able to reduce both crime and incarceration. The common belief is that putting people in prison reduces crime, but it seems to me you’re decoupling those two ?

Eisen: South Carolina is such a great example because they also reduced their recidivism rate. They have less people being returned to jail and prison while this great experiment was happening. And there’s so much research indicating that incarceration can be more criminogenic and cause recidivism rates to go up, and a lot of that research is in our report.

Ford: So that seems like an interesting paradigm shift in and of itself: the idea that, rather than prison can be used to reduce crime, prison can actually increase crime.

Chettiar: Our report refers to two bodies of research that show two very similar things. One is that incarceration has diminishing returns on crime, so meaning that perhaps the first few people you incarcerate helps reduce crime, but as you incarcerate more and more people and more and more don’t need to be there, you get a reduced effect on crime, so it draws on that. And the second body of research it draws on is the idea that lengths of stay in prison exhibit similar diminishing returns. So that if you’re in prison for one year, or two years, or three years, you actually get the same amount of recidivism reduction as if you’re in prison for ten or twenty years.

Ford: From that, it sounds like you’re suggesting this could increase public safety?

Eisen: Absolutely. We have a lot of this research in our report that keeping these close ties with the community and providing programs that focus on mental-health treatment, substance-abuse treatment are much more effective in many ways than sending someone to prison, where we all know there’s very little rehabilitation happening in prison. There’s very little programming. And in fact the good programming has lines and waiting lists. When we look at reducing recidivism, first of all, it’s much cheaper to keep someone supervised in the community in one of these programs and more importantly than that, it’s much more effective in a lot of cases.

Ford: So it seems like a step away from the idea that incarceration can be rehabilitative?

Chettiar: I would say in some circumstances, incarceration may be the most effective sanction, but incarceration in and of itself is not rehabilitative. You would need programs in prison, you would need treatment in prison, you need recidivism reduction programs in prison, and so incarceration on its own does not serve the purpose of rehabilitation.

Eisen: And it can be more criminogenic in a lot of cases. There’s a lot of research indicating that, especially for lower-level offenders, prison can be seen as a crime school, because you might be in a cell sitting with someone who’s committed multiple crimes or might be more violent than you, and without the support services in prison, you might emerge with more anti-social attitudes and more proclivity to commit crime.

Ford: Part of the question with mass incarceration is always the timeframe in which it can be reduced. How long would it take for us to see a serious decline in the prison population if these proposals were to be enacted?

Eisen: In our report, we note that 212,000 prisoners could be released within the year because they’ve already served what we consider to be an appropriate length of stay. Additionally, we suggest in our report that this could happen retroactively, and so we think we could do this in a few years.

Chettiar: I think that what’s going to take longer is actually getting the laws changed, and I think once that happens, the proposals could take effect quickly. And this is what we’ve seen in the states as well, where within a couple of years they’ve been able to reduce the prison population while state crime continued to stay low.

Eisen: And in the mean time you’d have a whole group of people who wouldn’t ever go to prison and then at the same time you’d have people being released.

Ford: So it’d be a combination of straight-off reduction by release, and then attrition?

Eisen: Exactly.

Ford: Do you think there’s a political will to support something like this?

Chettiar: I think the political will is getting there. As we’ve seen over the last couple of years, there’s more of an awakening among politicians from both sides of the aisle, law enforcement, researchers, advocates, that we must end mass incarceration. A lot of the proposals that have been enacted have been incremental and so what we are pushing for is bolder change, and I think the momentum is going in that direction.

Eisen: Additionally, there are grave fiscal consequences for being the world’s number-one incarcerator, and the Republicans and conservatives have played a large role in the leading the way towards some of the reforms in the states. We’re hopeful that some of this focus on reducing cost will also be hugely helpful in moving this reform forward.

Ford: Building off that, say that I’m Donald Trump, and it’s my first year in office, and I get a bill that comes across my desk that contains many if not all of the proposals you suggest. How would you convince me this would be the best thing for the country?

Chettiar: What I would say is the efforts to reduce the prison population through legislation over the last 10 years have been largely championed by Republicans, and many Republicans have made a principled argument that reducing imprisonment is a conservative cause based on the values of rehabilitation, wanting to give people second chances, wanting the government not to have a wasteful and ineffective program, and an idea that wants to advance public safety. So I would hope Republicans would be urging Donald Trump to come to see criminal-justice reform as a conservative issue that he should champion.

Ford: That’s such an interesting shift from what we already think of it as—maybe bipartisan, but it’s usually framed as a left-leaning issue.

Chettiar: I would say it’s definitely a progressive issue, but Democrats have been slower to join the effort. Even though progressive advocates and activists have been arguing for this for decades, the first part of the political elite that really joined into this, in addition to African American leaders, were Republican leaders, and only after Republican leaders joined it did Democratic leadership start speaking out about it. So it’s definitely a very interesting and unique political dynamic.

The People vs. OJ Simpson

If you haven’t watched the FX series, you are seriously missing out. I know, I know, you think you don’t need to watch it because you lived through it. But the show is incredibly well done and entertaining. Here are my takeaways from the perspective of a criminal defense attorney.

  • I did not remember that the jury was sequestered for over eight months. Judge Ito likely had no other choice given the level of public and tabloid interest but how did either side let it go 8 months?
  • I remembered that Detective Mark Furhman lied on the stand about saying the n-word but I didn’t remember just how bad the Fuhrman tapes were. He was an extreme racist who was not shy about his hatred for African-Americans and that shaped how the jury (and the public) viewed every piece of evidence.
  • My recollection of the verdict was that it was decided through such a thick lens of race relations that it more reflected a way for the jury to reject the racist practices of the LAPD in general than an actual finding that the state had not proven OJ guilty. That it was as much about Rodney King as OJ Simpson. Watching it unfold twenty years later, I realize that the jury got it right based on the evidence before them. When Mark Furhman, the lead detective, was asked if he manufactured or planted any evidence in this case, he exercised his constitutional right to remain silent. I just don’t see how any jury could have convicted after that. Watch the actual footage here.
  • I also forgot just how damning the evidence against OJ was. He was certainly better at playing football than covering up after a murder (if he did it).
  • It can be harder to be a female trial lawyer for a variety of reasons. Strangers expressing their opinion about your hairstyle is just one of them. Marcia Clark was pretty tough.
  • It’s hard to imagine another trial capturing Americans the way this one did. I remember sitting in a classroom when the verdict was announced on the school’s loudspeaker. The love that America had for OJ and the mistrust that many Americans had for the police at that time resulted in a drama that may not be rivaled in my lifetime.
  • And finally, a poor person would have been convicted. A team of extremely talented lawyers and an unlimited budget for investigating the defense makes all the difference.

Not Guilty

A couple weeks ago I heard some profound and beautiful words. Not Guilty. In fact, I heard them five times as the clerk read each of the five counts facing my client and the jury foreman responded to each one. 1st degree robbery. Not Guilty. Conspiracy to commit 1st degree robbery. Not Guilty. Felony Assault. Not Guilty. Robbery. Not Guilty. Conspiracy to commit robbery. Not Guilty.

I can’t really convey how it feels to sit next to someone, inches away from someone, as they wait to find out if they will spend the next decade in prison or if they will be going home that day. As the jury foreman spoke, the tension in my client’s body melted into pure joy. Gratitude towards these strangers, relief from this nightmare. I looked back at his family and saw people experiencing a profound relief that can only be felt by those preparing for a grave outcome.

I think about issues relating to criminal justice every day but a trial is something special. So few cases go to trial and when they do, the beauty of twelve citizens sitting in judgment over their fellow citizen is on full display. The jury heard five days worth of testimony and listened to opening statements and closing arguments from the attorneys. They listened intently, took notes, and undoubtedly grasped the seriousness of their responsibility. I can only imagine that most grimaced when they received their summons for jury service and I know that a couple even attempted to convince the judge to excuse them. But when called upon to serve, these fourteen citizens (two jurors become alternates) sat through the testimony of two Providence Police Department detectives, a patrolman, two eyewitnesses, two alleged victims, two medical professionals and two co-defendants. The jurors assessed the credibility of those witnesses, applied their own common sense and life experiences to what they heard, listened to the attorney’s summations and debated and deliberated with each other. After deliberating for almost five hours, they rendered a unanimous verdict of Not Guilty.

After being denied bail and spending a life changing eight months at the ACI awaiting trial, the sheriffs removed the handcuffs from my client’s wrists, opened the cage into which he was locked, and buzzed open the door to his freedom. He walked out of that courthouse with his family and his girlfriend who had sat there in support of him every day. No handcuffs, no probation, no restrictions. Not Guilty.

Mass Incarceration

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

I heard those words recently and I can’t get them out of my mind.

I heard those words from Bryan Stevenson who is the founder of the Equal Justice Institute and was recently the keynote speaker at a symposium on mass incarceration at Roger Williams University School of Law.

It was an amazing, disturbing and thought provoking day. Hundreds of lawyers, judges, students, social workers and formerly incarcerated Rhode Islanders gathered to discuss the problem of mass incarceration in our state and country. Some who were there confront the issue of mass incarceration every day – people like Mary McElroy, Rhode Island’s public defender and A.T Wall, RI’s Director of the Department of Corrections.

Others desperately needed to hear how our justice system is failing so profoundly – people like Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello and representatives of Governor Gina Raimondo’s office.

For those of us under 40, the fact that 2.3 million people in America are in prison seems normal. It’s not. For those of you who are older, you may not even realize that in 1972, only 272,000 people were in prison. Our prison population was pretty steady from 1900 to 1972 and then it exploded, increasing 10 fold in just 40 years. As a result, we have more children growing up without parents, more mentally ill people spending time behind bars where they get far less medical attention than they require, and more drug addicts serving long sentences rather than getting the treatment they need. It has also resulted in enormous disparities in the demographics of the people who are prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to prison. At every step in the prosecutorial process, the poor and people of color are much more likely to be treated more harshly by the criminal justice system.

All of this comes at a huge qualitative price to society and it also comes at a huge price tag. It costs an average of $43,000 a year to house a Rhode Island inmate. The 2016 proposed budget for the Department of Corrections is $213 million. That is $213 million that is not being spent on schools, roads, healthcare, or tax relief. Every year that number grows and we do not get any safer.

The mass incarceration of America should not be a partisan or divisive issue. It’s an issue that we can and must solve to move America forward and restore civil liberty. We can start to solve this crisis by addressing mandatory minimum sentences, abolishing the for-profit prison industry that drives criminal justice policy in many states, focusing on treatment rather than incarceration for the mentally ill and drug dependent, and rededicating ourselves to the notion that each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.

For more on this subject, I highly recommend watching Bryan Stevenson’s Ted Talk and visiting the links below.