Criminal justice reform has been a popular topic of late in particular ahead of yesterday’s midterm elections. But few of us truly understand the complex web of our justice system or what it is like to have to go through it from the inside. NEXUS was fortunate to recently have had the eye-oppening opportunity to visit one of the oldest detention facilities in the North East to meet with New Jersey leaders working on the front lines of change and see just how bleak the realities of the current system really are.
Thanks to the NEXUS Equal Justice Working Group, members and NEXUS partners not only experienced a New Jersey detention facility first had, they had a chance to learn how we as both individuals and a community can strategically shift the system to de-carcerate youth both locally and nationally. By leveraging the power and resources, intellect and drive of our
members, The Equal Justice Working Group is taking the lead on creating change on a state and local level. After going inside the prison facilities and meeting with several high ranking leaders, including New Jersey’s Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC), NEXUS members came together in the afternoon to see the film “The Work.” Produced by the team from the Inside Circle Foundation, The Work is a documentary about how through intensive circling, which is a restorative healing process, The Inside Circle Foundation has been able to achieve incredible results with inmates to help many transform from hardened killers and criminals into advocates for peace, non-violence and reconciliation. The day was capped off with an delicious meal at the impact driven vegan restaurant PS Kitchen in Times Square.
Following a day on the inside, NEXUS members regrouped the next day hear from Rev. Rubén Austria, executive director of the Community Connections for Youth, speak about empowering grassroots neighborhood organizations to develop effective community driven alternatives to incarceration for youth.
The afternoon was spent delving into our personal development journeys in partnership with The Inside Circle Foundation. In keeping of the spirit of “The Work” film, NEXUS members circled together to understand their own trauma and healing processes within the safe confines of the embrace of trusted fellow members. While the circling operated under Chatham House Rules, the results and transformation of members in the room was incredible to witness. To be able to circle with leaders from Inside Circle was a powerful experience for all involved.
Stay tuned for future opportunities to explore critical issues around criminal justice and participate in future circles.