The Hill Op-Ed: Bring Victims to the Table on Criminal Justice Reform

Syrita Bowen News, Uncategorized

The Hill just published a op-ed with a timely, significant message from Eileen Recktenwald, the executive director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, and Sherry Currens, the executive director of the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  In honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, they discuss how victims’ groups are often left out of the conversation on justice reform and why their voices are more important than ever.  

Excerpts are below and you can read the piece in full here.

“Criminal justice reform is hailed as the one policy area where conservatives and progressives can still reach across the aisle and find consensus.  The movement has supporters all across the ideological spectrum, from business associations to faith-based organizations, civil rights groups to limited-government advocates. But until recently, one group has largely been left out of the conversation: victims.

“And that’s a missed opportunity for justice reform advocates. Because we support many of the policies they endorse. This week is National Crime Victims Rights’ week, and it just so happens that April is Second Chance Month. So it seems appropriate to remind the nation that improved reentry policies for the formerly incarcerated and the objectives of victims’ groups are rooted in the same goal: to improve public safety.

[…]

“We support evidence-based justice reforms that facilitate re-entry and lower both crime and recidivism rates, such as those implemented in red and blue states in recent years.

“Connecticut has been on the cutting edge of sentencing reforms and alternatives to incarceration for those with addiction and mental health issues. As a result, the state’s crime rate is now at a 48-year low.

“In deep red Texas, one of the first states to pass alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenders and close prisons, recidivism has dropped and the state’s crime rate is the lowest it has been since the 1960s.

[…]

“[W]hile it would be easy and understandable for us to take a lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach toward perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual assault, we have to advocate for approaches that truly protect victims – even those who have committed crimes – and help them on their way to healing and recovery.

“As we mark National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we hope that reform advocates give victims’ groups a seat at the table to help shape justice reform. We support evidence-based approaches and want to encourage the reinvestment of savings from incarcerating fewer individuals into much-needed services to support survivors.”