Category: narrative

Portraits of a Problem: the Jena 6 and Mass Incarceration

Robert Bailey working out with friends

Thanks to their participation in the nationally televised Bayou Classic, Mychal Bell and Robert Bailey Jr. have now been recognized for something unrelated to the Jena 6 phenomenon.  When their names were called, it was because they had made a contribution on the field.

But there is far more at stake here than simple athletic success.  Mychal and Robert are making a positive contribution to their teams under the tutelage of seasoned football men who care about their players’ moral and educational advancement more than they care about winning.  Mychal and Robert are getting a second chance.

That’s a big deal when you consider that, in the natural order of things, Mychal and Robert would now be institutionalized felons rotting away in obscure Louisiana prisons.  By the time the prison doors swung open, the road to higher education would be blocked by dozens of petty regulations designed to keep offenders from reintegrating into society.  (more…)

Goodwyn: Civil Rights, Judicial Bias Surround Texas Drug Case

Wade Goodwyn does his usual impeccable job of bringing an utterly outrageous story to national awareness.  If you follow this blog you are already familiar with the basic outline of this story, but Goodwyn inserts the human element that is typically missed by the mainstream media.  You can hear the original audio version at the All Things Considered Site.

At the end of the Richardsons’ story you will find brief summaries of three related Texas narcotics cases Wade Goodwyn has covered over the years, stories that provide some of the best New Jim Crow illustrations available anywhere in America.  Friends of Justice didn’t just bring the Richardson fiasco to public attention, we were also involved in the other three cases (see my comments below at the end of the NPR piece).

One last word.  Without the dogged determination and courage of the defendants (particularly Vergil and Mark Richardson) and attorney Mark Lesher, justice would never have been served in this case.

Alan Bean (more…)

Kairos, Narrative, and Transformation

Mark Osler at work

By Mark Osler

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at the Kairos Conference on the death penalty at Emory University.  It was organized by People of Faith Against the Death Penalty and Sister Helen Prejean, and featured a fascinating array of voices.  However, things didn’t go quite as expected, in a way that was wonderful, instructive, and encouraging to groups like Friends of Justice.

Frankly, I expected to go down there, give my lectures, and talk to like-minded folks about the death penalty. All that happened, but that wasn’t all.  Sometimes a conference like that goes off in a direction you don’t expect. (more…)