Why Ex-Offenders Are Vital In Mass Incarceration Discussions

Last month I went to the Brooklyn Book Festival and attended a panel discussion on mass incarceration.  The panel included many important voices on the topic, including Central Park Five’s Yusef Salaam, attorney James Forman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Heather Thompson and Soros Justice Fellow Marlon Peterson.

Peterson spoke about his experience with incarceration in New York prisons and the lack of respect and rehabilitation incarcerated men and women receive by correctional officers and the larger criminal justice system.

“In prison, you don’t deserve dignity,” he said.  “They [correctional officers] do things to embarrass you.”

It is always important to include the voices of ex-offenders in this highly contested subject.  Much of the time, the discussion is dominated by lawyers, judges, academics, and correctional officials with very limited input from those who suffer the most from an unequal criminal justice system.

I want to bring your attention to Peterson’s awesome and insightful podcast called Decarcerated, where he gives real talk about the struggles of being an ex-offender in America.