The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
At the RAC’s Consultation on Conscience on April 26-28, Reform rabbis and social action leaders from across the country will gather to hear experts speak about the crucial issues of today – including racial and economic justice. On Monday morning of the Consultation, we have the privilege of hearing from Bryan Stevenson, the founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Tune in to the live stream at 9:00 AM on Monday morning to hear Mr. Stevenson share his story and his work.
Mr. Stevenson has gained national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system. As an attorney, he represents prisoners condemned to death row, indigent inmates, children in adult prisons and many other clients who have been affected by the racial and economic bias that exists in our criminal justice system.
Mr. Stevenson’s work and the work of the Equal Justice Initiative to be advocates for people in the criminal justice system inspires those of us who are advocates in Washington, D.C. working on criminal justice reform. In the past year alone, we have submitted testimony to the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights calling for action and reform to ensure that our civil rights and criminal justice laws live up to our fundamental values of equality and justice. Some of the issues our testimony has covered include: voting rights, criminal justice and sentencing reform, the death penalty, hate crimes and many more.
We also advocated for the Death in Custody Reporting Act, which passed last December with help from a number of our rabbis and continue to be active in pushing for sentencing reform, among other kinds of criminal justice reform. We also rededicated our efforts to ending the death penalty in December by joining the 90 Million Strong Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Deuteronomy 16:20 commands “tzedek tzedek tirdof,” (justice, justice shall you pursue). By repeating the word justice, our tradition emphasizes the importance of truly being just in our pursuit of justice. As Jews seeking to be just in our pursuit of justice, we are thrilled to be able to hear from leaders in the field like Mr. Stevenson. We look forward to hearing about his work helping those most affected by the policies we so desperately seek to change.
Be sure to tune in for the livestream at youtube.com/racrj, and learn more about the Consultation on Conscience here.
To learn more about the RAC’s work on civil rights and criminal justice, click here.