Senior Attorney Daryl Atkinson joined host Marc Lamont Hill and University of Wisconsin Sociologist Alice Goffman in a HuffPost Live discussion of Goffman’s book, “On the Run.”
Much of “On the Run” focuses on the book’s main subjects, black men in their 20s living in a Philadelphia neighborhood who find ways to evade, dodge and run from police in order to avoid arrest, prison time for small crimes. Beyond running from the police, the subjects of Hoffman’s book communicate the reality that they aren’t able to rely on law enforcement or the court systems to help them when they need it. Atkinson discussed their perspective, and offered several alternatives to the vicious cycle of criminalizing, incarcerating, and reducing opportunity that disproportionately affects black men in the United States.
Atkinson promoted policy-based solutions that exist today:
- Move a number of low-level moving infractions and livability offenses out of the criminal justice system and into a civil penalty system that will not hold people in financial bondage.
- Use the criminal justice system only to the measure that is necessary so that people are not incarcerated longer than is necessary. Base judgement of such necessity on evidence from applied and data-driven social science research.
- Remove the second class status that is attendant to contact with the criminal justice system
Culture-shift solutions are just as needed for comprehensive criminal justice reform: We have to enlarge the “We”
“All of the fights that we’ve been engaged in in this country have really been about more clearly defining who “We the People” are. We need to enlarge that “We” to truly include poor people, black and brown people, and people who are currently living on the margins of society.”
You may view the segment in its entirety below.
Policing and Prisons Threaten Black Men in the U.S.