Cops, Courts & Prisons


Originally published in the Summer 2019 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 59, printed August 23. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Summer 2019 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post. For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

Panelists at the Criminal Injustice Reform Network launch included, from left: Paul Taylor, RVA League for Safer Streets; Lorraine Wright, I Vote for Me; Travis L. Williams, Ph.D., sociology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University; Nneka H. Bartlett, Tidewater Counseling Group; Chioma Adaku-Griffin, Traffik Stops; Kandice Lucas, Advocates for Equity in Schools; and Queen Zakia Shabazz, United Parents Against Lead & Other Environmental Hazards. Photo by Phil Wilayto.

“Intentional” was the key word used to describe a new prisoner advocacy organization headed by longtime prisoner rights activist BeKura Waliah Shabazz Branch. 

“The professionals have not been doing the intentional work and holding the lines with the politicians,” Shabazz Branch told the Defender. “The bills we propose get watered down. So we won’t be doing that. We will encourage people to say ‘No, we will not allow you to water down our bills. Your power comes from the consent of the governed, and you are not doing that.” 

The Criminal Injustice Reform Network held a Launch and Day of Advocacy July 20 at The Highpoint on West Broad Street in Richmond. The event featured a panel discussion with activists representing a wide range of issues. 

One of the things the new network will be doing, Shabazz Branch said, is attempting to connect larger, well-established organizations with the grassroots, offering speakers and an all-day seminar. 

“They do not care about the people, and that’s what they need to do,” she said. 

More information is at the network’s Facebook page here.

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