Cherelle M. Dessus Archive

Is prison reform criminal justice reform?

March 2, 2018 Cherelle M. Dessus

Is prison reform criminal justice reform? Cherelle M. Dessus In President Trump’s first State of the Union address, many priorities and goals were mentioned. Advocates for criminal justice reform were not left out of this conversation. Trump stated that his administration would focus on reforming prisons to ensure that returning citizens have access to second chances. For several years, presidential administrations and Congress have mentioned the need for bipartisan criminal justice reform to end the cycle of over-incarceration. Many understand criminal justice reform to be a combination of reforms to how sentencing happens and to prison conditions. Separately, both reforms […]

Jails as warehouses

December 27, 2017 Cherelle M. Dessus

Jails as warehouses By Cherelle M. Dessus Many people believe that the primary purposes of prisons are to increase public safety, punish offenders for crimes against society and rehabilitate prisoners. But in many ways, jails and prisons have become warehouses for people with mental illnesses or drug addictions and those who are living in poverty. In most states, jails hold more people with mental illnesses than do state psychiatric hospitals. Two million people with mental illnesses are booked into jails each year. Many are not assessed by health professionals and end up going to prison instead of being treated properly. […]

The right to safety

September 29, 2017 Cherelle M. Dessus

The right to safety Cherelle M. Dessus A shooting at a Washington state high school upended the lives of families and the community in the small town of Rockford when a 15-year-old shot four students as a response to bullying. The student had obtained a pistol and an assault rifle from his father’s safe and transported the weapons to his school in a duffle bag. In an attempt to stop the shooting, one other student was shot and killed. The shooter had shown signs of mental instability during his meetings with a school counselor. The student was reportedly obsessed with […]

Advocating together

May 19, 2017 Cherelle M. Dessus

Advocating together Cherelle M. Dessus “Black, White, Spanish. Doesn’t matter who you are, you’ll feel like you’re part of a family,” a church member said. Lee Heights is located in an urban area and the church aims to serve their community. Many times, they walk through the neighborhood to talk and pray with people. Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) helps the congregation connect these local concerns with federal policies. EAD is a national gathering held annually in Washington, D.C. The conference is organized by Christian organizations working in Washington, including the Mennonite Central Committee’s U.S. Washington Office. This year’s conference focused […]

Tough on crime

March 3, 2017 Cherelle M. Dessus

By Cherelle M. Dessus After swearing in Attorney General Jeff Sessions on February 9, President Donald Trump signed three executive orders designed to “reduce crime and restore public safety.” The orders aim to develop strategies such as new legislation and a task force to reduce violent crime, drug trafficking, and immigration. The President has expressed his concern for the crime rate despite the fact that crime is actually decreasing. Throughout recent months, he has promised to be “tough on crime,” a phrase that African American communities especially know all too well. Since the ending of the Jim Crow era, politicians […]