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criminal justice conversations podcast

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The NEN welcomes David Onek’s Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast back to empowersf.

James Bell (left) & David Onek

In this podcast, David speaks with James Bell, Executive Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, about his work to reduce the overrepresentation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system, the involvement of community members in the reform process, and more.

Listen Now:

Interview Highlights

Bell on Involving the Community in the Reform Process
“Involving the community in a meaningful way is a core value that we have. We believe that you can’t address the overrepresentation of young people of color without engaging people from their communities. What we want to do is bring people from the impacted communities to the table to help folks problem solve. However, we understand why most people don’t do it. Because first you have to have community people, when they’re invited to the table, to be able to modulate their anger, modulate the fact that they have not been participating, they don’t get much money from the system, and to become a part of the team. That takes a tremendous amount of coaching, of bringing them up to speed on the alphabet soup that stakeholders have, and it is very time and labor intensive. But it is essential for these changes to occur.”

Bell on How a Safe Space is Created for Difficult Discussions About Race
“That’s exactly what is needed: a safe space. The first thing that we do, is we make sure that people understand that we are not about finger pointing and that we need a collaboration of people, who have authority and can make decisions about young people of color, to be at the table to cooperate. And, then, the next thing we do is we don’t lead with race; we actually get data and we try to see where it is that kids of color are impacted the most and ask them what policies and procedures do they believe contribute to this impact.”

Bell on Rationally Examining the Juvenile Justice System
“All we’re doing is an examination. We’re like an internist. You go to the doctor to say, ‘I think I got a scratchy throat, something’s wrong, I’m not feeling right,’ and the doctor goes through a series of questions and looks and asks you about things and measures things to say, ‘well, this might be happening.’ That’s what our process is. But what might be happening is the overrepresentation of young people of color, which brings in race, which gets a lot of people irrational. And so what we try to do is be data-based and as rational as possible as we examine, for use of this metaphor, this patient.”

About The Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast

David Onek

The Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast, a co-production of the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice and the Berkeley School of Journalism, features in-depth, thirty-minute interviews with a wide range of criminal justice leaders: law enforcement officials, policymakers, advocates, service providers, academics and others.

The weekly Podcast, hosted by criminal justice expert David Onek, gets behind the sound bites that far too often dominate the public dialogue about criminal justice, to have detailed, nuanced conversations about criminal justice policy.

David Onek

In this episode, David speaks with Kevin Grant, Oakland Street Outreach Coordinator, about how he maintains credibility with young people and law enforcement, how he turned his life around after fifteen years behind bars, how he fosters relationships with employers to help people with prior convictions find jobs, and more.

Listen Now:

Interview Highlights

Grant on Taking Responsibility Rather Than Always Blaming the Police
“I started finally coming to understand, to finally start looking in the mirror and say, wait, the person who caused all the problems in my life was me and the things I liked to do… I stopped making enemies out of the police department… We don’t service ourselves on the streets by acting like it’s all the police’s fault. We have to take ownership to what am I doing to be the police’s job all the time.”

Grant on Fostering Understanding Between Youth and Police
“We want the officers to understand the youth more, but we want the youth to understand the officers more.”

Kevin Grant and David Onek

Grant on Providing Employment Opportunities for People with Prior Convictions
“The advocacy that we found that’s important is for somebody to go forward, positioned and tempered, to develop personal relationships with employers… If we, as a society, can say that everything that is receiving funding from our community needs to embrace back our community. These are people in our community… You have to realize the loved ones are coming back home. We need to embrace them when they get back home and give them opportunity.”

About The Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast 

The Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast, a co-production of the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice and the Berkeley School of Journalism, features in-depth, thirty-minute interviews with a wide range of criminal justice leaders: law enforcement officials, policymakers, advocates, service providers, academics and others.

The weekly Podcast, hosted by criminal justice expert David Onek, gets behind the sound bites that far too often dominate the public dialogue about criminal justice, to have detailed, nuanced conversations about criminal justice policy.

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David Onek

At empowersf.org, we’re always opening the doors to those who can bring new voices and perspectives to the neighborhood-empowering, community-building world.

To that end, we’re excited to welcome criminal justice expert David Onek and the highly popular Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast to empowersf.org. The Podcast features weekly 30-minute conversations between David and a host of law enforcement officials, policymakers, advocates, service providers, and more. David is a Senior Fellow at the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice and a Commissioner on the San Francisco Police Commission.

Here in San Francisco, it’s proven every day that those neighborhoods which know and can work with their local law enforcement departments are safer places, which is why David’s podcast is such a great fit for the NEN. Moving forward, we’ll be pulling out the episodes from the show that fit in with the NEN’s focus areas to syndicate here on empowersf.org.

Thanks to David and the Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast for partnering with us and get ready for some great conversations soon. In the meantime, you can read more about the Podcast here and check out the complete Podcast archive here.

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