Of course, there actually is A LOT of news this week, as is true just about every week in the world of criminal justice reform.
The Prison Relocation Commission met yesterday and, surprise, everybody STILL hates the idea of the prison moving near them. Nonetheless, three sites (one each in Tooele, Utah and Salt Lake Counties) have survived for the lightning round (with the PRC reserving the right to explore new possible sites as they emerge). You can read about that meeting in the Salt Lake Tribune, in the D-News, at Fox 13 News…in fact, you can hear about the prison relocation all the time, just about anywhere, now that the move seems real and people are tuning back in.
There are many, many opinions about the prison move. At this time of year, I just want to remind folks that however negatively they feel about having the prison in their area of the state…please, don’t project that negativity onto all the people INSIDE the prison – staff and inmates both – as well as the people who care about those people.
The prison might not be our most popular public facility – and surely, it reflects back to us many difficult realities about what it means to be human, living among a whole lot of other humans – but the prison, and the people who are incarcerated there, as well as the people who work there, are part of our community, too.
In that spirit, I’m going to hold off on any news or updates or rants or screeds this week. It’s a beautiful holiday season – the perfect time to reflect on all the blessings and privileges we have.
It is a wonderful time to take a break from thinking about everything that is WRONG with the criminal justice system – and heaven knows, there’s plenty that needs improving! – and think a bit about all the things that are working pretty darn great. Our system is full of caring social workers putting in long hours, school counselors who take extra care with troubled kids, thoughtful law enforcement leaders who answer to the public even when it is difficult, brave therapists who find the heart to treat individuals convicted of sex offenses, correctional officers who bother to see the humanity in the inmates they supervise, lawyers who care passionately about getting justice (for defendants AND for victims), judges who try hard to balance all the difficult facts, activists who tirelessly speak on behalf of the voiceless, public administrators who work year after year to improve the programs and processes that make our system function….
So, I encourage us all to move away from our screens for a few days over the next couple of weeks, celebrate the holidays of our choosing that bring us close to the people we care about…
..and remember that even though we sometimes find ourselves arguing against each other, we are all essentially working and hoping for the same thing: a better system, with justice for all.