September 21, 2015 – Stephen JohnsonGrove joined Cincinnati’s WVXU (91.7) to discuss a newly-launched funding collaborative to address criminal justice reform in Ohio—the Ohio Transformation Fund (OTF). OJPC forms part of this collaborative whose goal is to reduce the number and racial disparity of youth and adults incarcerated in Ohio.
Stephen and WVXU host, Maryanne Zeleznik, explored the racially disparate impacts of the criminal justice system. Stephen showed how the justice system disrupts black families’ lives and concluded with the following:
We don’t want any of that for any of our children. We have to take ownership for that and stand up and say, “No, [mass incarceration] is not about public safety. This is a system of racial control that we must end and can end. We can do that in Ohio.”
Judy Wright, director of OTF, commented on the shift in thinking and practice we need in the state. “A system that is ostensibly about keeping people safe is tearing families apart,” said Ms. Wright. “We know that safe and healthy communities begin with people having the resources they need.”
Zeleznik asked a logical question about the choice Ohio has to make with our criminal justice system. If we have an overcrowding crisis, why we don’t just build more prisons and jails? “It’s not just about building more jails, building more prisons,” said Kirsten Levingston, Human Rights program officer with the Ford Foundation. “It’s about the price we want to levy against families and communities by choosing to incarcerate instead of coming up with other solutions which really get to the core of safety—job opportunities, housing, health. Those are the things that really make us safe.”
OJPC is grateful to OTF for the support and to WVXU for inviting us on air. WVXU provides a link to the full interview where people can listen online.