The first meeting for the Just Mercy book group was small and intimate, so we had a pretty unstructured discussion. We agreed that it was a very heavy book. I very much enjoyed hearing everyone's personal connections with the topic and what surprised or didn't surprise them about the book. We shared a lot of related resources including the books: The New Jim Crow, Dead Man Walking, Killers of the Osage Moon, Dog Whistle Politics, Undocumented, and Locking up Our Own; the film 13th, and the podcasts Undisclosed and 74 Seconds.
We were heartened by the themes of resiliency, hope and redemption in the book. Nancy was amazed at the hope of the wrongfully accused people on death row and I echo that feeling.
We discussed and disagreed about the root causes of the issues and talked about what we personally can do. I talked about how I am excited about the push for an end to cash bail and urged everyone to support that movement and the candidacy of Larry Krasner. Adding to this part of the discussion, right after the meeting Lynne sent us this link to stop Lynne Abraham from becoming Philly's interim DA.https://campaigns.organizefor.org/petitions/don-t-let-lynne-abraham-become-philly-s-interim-district-attorney?bucket=COC
At the meeting, I forgot to mention the Youth Sentencing and Re-entry Project (YSRP), a local organization run by and for those incarcerated as youth. I learned about the organization and met some members through the Bread and Roses Community Fund. While searching Bread and Roses' website just now I found all these other organizations in Philadelphia that are working to reform the criminal justice system and empower those it has hurt. Here is the link to all the organizations http://breadrosesfund.org/about/grantees/phoebus-criminal-justice-initiative-grantees/
The next meeting is on Wednesday, August 2 starting at 5:00pm at 1575 Williams Road, Abington, PA 19001
This blog post was written by Kathy Cohen.