FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2016
Videos Highlight Powerful Prison Reentry Stories from Across California
Testimonials Focus on Challenges and Opportunities for those Reintegrating into Society
Oakland, Calif. – The devastating effects on human lives of California’s criminal justice system will be on full display next week as reentry advocacy nonprofit Root & Rebound debuts a series of video testimonials featuring its clients. The screening will take place at the organization’s Oakland office (1730 Franklin St., Suite 300) on Thursday, February 18th, from 5 to 7 pm.
“These videos put a human face to the challenges of prison reentry in California--a face that can no longer be ignored,” said Katherine Katcher, Root & Rebound’s Founder and Executive Director. “Far too often discussions of criminal justice policy are relegated to costs and population numbers. It is critical to put a human face on the impact our broken systems and policies have on the individual, families, neighborhoods, and communities.”
The videos, produced by Margaret Katcher, Wesley Diemling, Sara Worth, and Claire Seaver, are first-person narratives of what “reentry” looks like. They make clear that discussions of a person’s criminal justice-involvement start with the other broken systems in our state and county--the education, health, foster care, policing, courts, and prison systems. The story tellers offer heartfelt and candid testimony of drug addiction, grief, violence, and trauma, and the impact of incarceration on their families and communities. Despite these challenges, the stories are not without optimism; and a main theme is the importance of community support, legal advice, and employment services--and the fact that they did, in fact, make it out to the other side to become engaged, productive, and giving members of their communities.
The screening comes at a time when public attitude toward criminal justice is changing. Many of California’s most damaging criminal justice policies – including its harsh three-strikes law – were passed at a time when crime was seen as the most pressing issue. However, recent polls show that public perception of crime and the criminal justice system are changing.
“The atmosphere around prison reentry has changed dramatically in the last five years,” Katcher said. “More and more people are seeing the value of support services. If these trends continue, we may permanently shift away from a system solely focused on punishment to one that promotes rehabilitation and prevention--and one that recognizes that many of the people in reentry who we speak about getting ‘a second chance’ never really had a first chance at all.”
Root & Rebound is a nonprofit reentry advocacy center based in Oakland, California that works to increase access to justice and opportunity for people in reentry from prison and jail, and to educate and empower those who support them, fundamentally advancing and strengthening the reentry infrastructure across the state of California and beyond.
As a hub for reentry legal resources, Root & Rebound squarely addresses the American “justice gap,” which is even more profound for those with criminal records. Our model combines the creation of public education tools like the ‘Roadmap to Reentry’ guide, legal training, the provision of direct legal assistance through statewide hotline support, and systems reform work.