Re-entry is our Next Civil Rights Movement
One grand challenge for the United States is to end mass incarceration through the expansion of re-entry rights, policies, and practices. This challenge is grand, because mass incarceration is intertwined in the denial of basic rights for minorities and other unprotected populations. Ending mass incarceration means starting a civil rights movement. The name of the movement is re-entry, and it WILL guarantee a safe, healthy, and socially cohesive future for all Americans.
One starting place is to restore voting rights to ex-felons, as was recently suggested by Attorney General Eric Holder. Mass Incarceration results from discriminatory policies that disproportionately disenfranchise black and brown people. However, there are emerging re-entry policies that bring an opportunity to chip away at the institutionalized racism that plagues our country. These policies, like the Second Chance Act of 2007, are research-based and promising. Still, proper implementation will require greater collaboration between government sectors and those agencies that administer services to ex-offenders. Addressing this issue is daunting.
According to the Economist, our country was ranked low on the list of countries that are likely to face major social upheaval in 2014. Yet, it is noted in the article that Social/Political Unrest is defined as developments that pose a serious threat to the existing political order. That is not the nature of civil rights movements, to disrupt political order. These movements strive to change the social order for the better, and that is why they thrive. Equal Rights for women and African Americans did not lead to anarchy, but they did have extreme social implications. The intention of the re-entry civil rights movement will not be to overthrow or threaten; it will be empowerment.
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). (n.d.). Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Retrieved April 9, 2013, from http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/OCE/
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. (n.d.). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Retrieved April 9, 2013, from http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/realignment/
The Economist. (2013, November 23). Tackling reoffending-helping them stay home. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21590362-second-chance-act-helps-keep-ex-inmates-out-prison-helping-them-stay-home
Holder, E. United States Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs. (2013). Attorney general eric holder calls on congress to pass bipartisan second chance act (13-1218). Retrieved from website: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2013/November/13-ag-1218.html
110th Congress. United States Congress, House of Representatives. (2007). Second chance act of 2007. Retrieved from website: http://beta.congress.gov/bill/110th/house-bill/1593