Last evening a few of us from exalt went to a meeting organized by Aria Finger, COO of Do Something, to learn more about a working group she initiated dedicated to “doing something” to raise consciousness about our mass incarceration epidemic. We were invited by Doug Rogers, a recent transplant to New York who has in a short time begun to create a transformative culture for some of the young folks detained in Rikers Island, our notorious city jail. I won’t appropriate Doug’s story, but suffice it to say, he has experience and passion that enable him to connect viscerally and meaningfully to these young men he sees everyday in jail. He joined forces with Aria, who is rooted in another reality – that of media and messaging targeting scores of young professionals looking for some direction in terms of where and how to make a difference in the world. Their aim is to organize and execute a TEDx talk in one of New York’s jails or prisons, similar to one that Doug was involved in Marion (Ohio) Correctional in 2012.
Bringing TEDx talks to correctional facilities is a powerful way to humanize the millions of people we’ve locked up, and spur greater consciousness about our school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration epidemic. (The US incarcerates 25% of the entire world’s incarcerated people). See this inspiring video.
Aria asked me a tough question: what’s the one thing you would tell people to do that want to make a difference (in helping to end this epidemic)? It’s so hard to reduce such a complex and rooted nexus of our worst societal failings to a sole suggestion. But it’s necessary if we want to provide access points for millions of people to get involved in making change.
So here’s my response: one thing you can do is learn a shocking statistic (e.g. 1 in 32 people in this country are under some form of correctional supervision; or: we spend approximately $12K annually to educate a student in NYC and over $200K to incarcerate him/her…) and SHARE it with your friends and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter, any and everywhere... To re-quote Atul Gawande from one of my earlier posts, “People talking to people is still how the world’s standards change.”
For more statistics to share and additional ways to “do something” to make a difference, check out the rest of our website, starting with the homepage!