This past week we hosted a panel highlighting the voices of survivors, both of street violence and to prisons. We were joined by a few powerful women: Antoinette Kreiselmeier is a justice reform advocate. Movita Johnson Harrell is a retired PA State Rep and former Chief of Victim Services and Restorative Justice at the Philadelphia DA Office. Jean Mayes is a provider of support assistance for people with special needs. You can hear from them in the recording below:
All three have been dually targeted by the violence of prisons and street violence. They are asking for a change in the criminal (in)justice system because it is not supporting nor providing relief to the survivors impacted by crime. When we take a restorative justice approach and center what the survivor needs, instead of centering punishment from the state onto its people, we have to ask: who is this system helping?
The day of recording was the 11th anniversary of the loss of Movita Harrell’s 18 year old son Charles, murdered in a case of mistaken identity. She also had lost a cousin and most recently, her last surviving son Dante who was killed in a random drive by. “I’ve spent the last 11 years since my son Charles was murdered trying to protect people on both sides of the gun,” she explained.
Jean Mayes lost her brother over 40 years ago. She is identifies as both a victim and an advocate to get the man who murdered her brother out of prison—”he was just a little one himself.”
Antoinette Kreiselmeier lost her grandson and brother—she lives with the loss of several family members to murder, and several more to incarceration. “The criminal justice system did not help us in any kind of way. Even when our people are murdered we didn’t get any type of service like counseling, or just trying to heal. I think the criminal justice system is just doing what it’s built to do, tear the people down and tear the family down too.”
All three have become advocates for compassion for others, but also healing for themselves and other survivors who are currently being denied those opportunities.
Are you a survivor of violence who wants to see solutions outside of the prison system? Do you believe life in prison is unjust? Reach out Terri Minor Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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