When you are struggling with a criminal justice system, it is often easy to feel very helpless. It may be difficult to understand the system. You may feel very isolated. You may feel that you are treated disrespectfully when you talk about the system. You may be overwhelmed by other responsibilities while you have a loved one who is incarcerated.
We understand those feelings. At the same time, if the criminal justice system is to improve, we need many people to speak up about the problems. A few great advocates won’t change much. Lots of voices can result in change.
Here are a few suggestions. These are just suggestions. They may not work everywhere. If these won’t work where you live, perhaps they will inspire you to think of something that will work. No one can do all of these things. Anything you can do is likely to help.
Communicate. If you are incarcerated and can write or call your loved ones, do so. If you love someone who is incarcerated write or visit, if possible. Incarceration is designed to isolate people. We need to combat that. We also need people in the free world to understand what goes on in our prisons and jails. Be informed. Consider studying the publications listed on our home page. Attend conferences or seminars on the subject. Ask questions.
Advocate. If you are incarcerated, use the systems available to file complaints about legitimate concerns. If you are in the free world and encounter problems or are concerned about problems faced by someone who is incarcerated, contact the prison administrator. Talk with policy makers such as legislators and ombudsman to be certain that they understand the problems. Educate. Talk to your friends and associates. Let them know what is happening. Write letters to the editor. Challenge inaccurate reporting. Write, call, or email the editor to point out inaccuracies.
Vote. Do your part to elect leaders who understand criminal justice issues and support constructive policies.