Mass Incarceration

Op-Ed | We want safety and healing, not harsh punishment

As a lifelong resident of Mattress-Stuy, Brooklyn, I do know so much about crime and punishment. Throughout this latest election season, we heard so much concerning the topic from politicians of all stripes. 

Now, it’s my flip to talk – and to clarify why I’m supporting expanded parole launch alternatives as a survivor

I’m the Government Director of Each Sides of the Violence, Inc., which gives companies to justice-impacted youth and grief help for victims, together with different assets for our group. We work in NYCHA developments, colleges, and jails, selling proactive methods to cease violence. I’m additionally a Chaplain, with an Honorary Doctorate Diploma in Humanities, and I serve on my Neighborhood Board and the 79th Precinct Clergy council. 

In 2002, my 28-year-old sister Maisha “Pumpkin” Hubbard was killed by a stray bullet whereas in our 1st ground condo in Tompkins Homes. She left behind a son who was simply 10 years outdated when his mother handed. Our household was devastated and we might by no means be the identical. We have been violated in our own residence. 

Her assailant was despatched to jail for manslaughter and got here dwelling dedicated to altering his life. The damage and ache of dropping a sibling — your first finest pal — is unimaginable, particularly once I was the one which discovered her. You by no means need one other household or group to expertise that. So at the moment, in my therapeutic, I mentor this man in his progress, backing his initiative to develop a boxing program so group members have a protected technique to construct self-confidence and relieve stress via common train. Justice to me signifies that he goes on to assist forestall different acts of violence from taking place. 

I even have a father-in-law who was incarcerated most of his life. Earlier than getting into jail, he felt depressed and his judgment was clouded by his untreated traumas. He’s now 63 years outdated and received’t go to the Parole Board till 2029, if he makes it that lengthy. The common age of dying in New York’s prisons is just 58. Addressing trauma earlier than folks commit crimes and enter the system is a key a part of my mission.

I advocate for folks like the one who dedicated this crime towards my sister and rehabilitated himself. I advocate for my father-in-law so he can come dwelling and get actual assist exterior of jail partitions –– and stay the remainder of his life in peace round our household. Lastly, I advocate for folks like my present fiancé, who at 16-years-old was sentenced to seven years-to-life and ended up serving 16 1/2 years in jail as a result of the Parole Board denied him 9 occasions. He had finished actual work to alter, however the Board denied him time and again merely due to the one factor he couldn’t change – his conviction. Lastly, a decide intervened and ordered them to launch him. 

My life has been deeply affected by violence locally and mass incarceration, and my expertise is the norm, not the exception. The failure to reckon with each epidemics is private to me. There simply isn’t satisfactory funding for proactive interventions to assist our communities, together with packages like mine, which do the actual work of therapeutic our communities and conserving us protected. 

I’ve been to crime scenes the place I needed to actually assist clear up blood and mind matter on the partitions of victims. Imagine it or not, there aren’t any authorities companies chargeable for this most simple sort of help. Survivors are sometimes chargeable for cleansing the crime scenes through which their family members are victimized. This trauma is poison for us all, and the Metropolis and State supply no actual antidote.

All of for this reason I testified at a latest State Senate listening to in help of the Elder Parole and Truthful & Well timed Parole payments to broaden significant alternatives for case-by-case parole launch consideration, and to advertise therapeutic, transformation, and security. 

I’m additionally working with a rising coalition to move a invoice referred to as Truthful Entry to Sufferer Compensation, which might take away limitations to therapeutic helps confronted by the overwhelming majority of crime victims and survivors. The general public I help via my group get not one of the sufferer companies funds the state collects from folks convicted of crimes. With out us, their trauma would simply get absorbed into that nice large mass of damage created by generations of poverty and racism.

I consider if an individual made a mistake, particularly when it’s tied to traumas of their lives, they need to have a pathway to come back dwelling and assist others to be taught from their errors. The one means this vicious cycle could be damaged is thru us. Collectively we will cut back the traumas and cut back the violence that’s attributable to damage folks. We will’t preserve their life experiences in a cage endlessly. 

Shneaqua Purvis is the Government Director of Each Sides of the Violence, Inc. Discover extra information at

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