March 25, 2017 – Featuring David Singleton, this op-ed published in the New York Times looks at the big picture of criminal justice reform now.
For most of the mass incarceration era, few reform groups actively recruited people with criminal convictions as participants, let alone as leaders. As David Singleton, a former public defender and the executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center in Cincinnati, told me: “Some advocates have been arrogant in thinking that we know better how to speak for people who have been affected by the policies we want to change. We perhaps unconsciously dismiss those we try to serve as less than capable.”
This is slowly changing. Mr. Singleton says that some of his center’s most effective spokesmen were once incarcerated. “They are the true experts about our criminal justice system,” he says. “And even more than that, there is no substitute for people in positions of power getting to know and see the humanity of folks who are behind bars or have returned home.”