CRIMINAL JUSTICE

HANA CLEMENS - PUBLIC JUSTICE CENTER, WEEK 4

This week, I began to learn what it means to be pushed outside of my comfort zone. While a lot of the week was spent reading law and interpreting each state's very unique eviction process, I also had the chance to do some outreach in the form of gaining signatures for the Housing Trust Fund. This is a daunting task, as the coalition we are a part of is scrambling to find 15,000 signatures by August 8 with very little time to do it. With my limited connections and resources, I have been trying everything I can to reach out to the community around me and help obtain them. This started with talking to my co-workers, which led to a very interesting meeting with a reverend at a church in Bolton Hill. Here, I was really put to the test when it came to my knowledge on this charter amendment, and when it became obvious that I didn't know something, he would quickly look at the language of the amendment and correct me. I soon realized that in order to really get the word out about this initiative, I would need to know this completely so as to defend it to the best of my ability. I am not much of a negotiator, but networking and talking to the community at large will be a big part of being successful in the tasks set before me. In this part of my work I will definitely need to be able to defend this amendment, as well as other policies, that are and will become so integral to this city's fair development in the future.

ANNETTE FAVETTA - OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER , WEEK 4

I am really happy when a case gets dismissed. Sometimes we show up for court, having spent the entire weekend preparing a solid defense and reading case law, and the victim or witnesses do not show up. The case ends up getting dismissed and the client walks away with no record, facts not sustained. In many ways I wish the client had not been brought to court in the first place. However, I cannot help cherishing these moments as small victories.

 

RYAN KELLNER - OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER , WEEK 4

In reflecting on Thursday’s speaker event, I have been reflecting on the difficulties in lobbying local authorities to attend to issues local organizations find pertinent. Despite the persistent presence of advocates at city council and school board meetings, it seems that our speakers were implying that it is difficult to get local voices across. I wonder if there are any other constructive ways of lobbying local officials toward local causes. It seems the local legislature responds often to protest and more visible issues, but I would hope for a simpler process in lobbying for more specific issues. Perhaps it is a matter of inundating these officials with requests for meetings. If many individuals made their own attempts simultaneously to meet with local council members for the same purpose, accumulating these requests might have the effect of bringing forth these important issues. As a more general reflection, I feel another drive to participate in more communal work. Each of these speaker series tends to motivate me to take part in more individual volunteer work, particularly in homeless and formerly incarcerated communities. I would like to contribute to the discussions that this week’s speakers brought up by learning firsthand from community members in need. I have always found that level of work stimulating when tutoring in the Baltimore City Detention Center, but it feels appropriate that I now branch out into another community that could use another volunteer, if not another advocate. I feel at my most comfortable as a Baltimore citizen when I am meeting individuals in need, because I can learn from them and, in the long-run, contribute to their needs. I intend to do more such work throughout this summer.

OSIRIS MANCERA - FREESTATE LEGAL, WEEK 4

"The Master's Tools will NEVER Dismantle the Master's House." It's a famous piece by Audre Lorde, probably one of her most notable lines. Last Thursday, Makayla uttered those same words. In them are entangled thousands of years of black suffering, of woman suffering, of people suffering. In them, the echoes of wails and shouts, of arms outstretched towards the sky and hands grasping for any glittering star that could possibly fall from the opaque stream above. Those words are enriched with the knowledge of struggle and endurance, but also with the awareness of eyes watching while we dismantle- the oppressor, I mean master's, eyes. Makayla spoke of what we know, but still cannot seem to comprehend- that the lives of black and brown folks, of poor and transgender folks, of woman folks and marginalized folks matter less to society, to our country than those of the "other" - the "other" meaning the powerful, of course. Makayla spoke of solutions, of possibilities, and of the ever-so-reachable future of equity and days without death. Oh, there has been so much death. There have been far too many funerals for those without a single wrinkle on their body. There has been so much senseless going around I'm beginning to think it's contagious. There are too many mothers weeping for their black sons, begging them to come home so that they can crawl into the arms of their mother who will kiss the fears away and tuck them to bed afterward. There have been far too many tears. There have been far too many shootings and beatings and killings and everything-in-betweens with little to change that from the system that put it all there to begin with. There have been far too many words and not enough actions. Far too many of us marching for change and forcing our lungs with as much as they can hold to clamor our grievances and desperation and far too little of them listening to us. Too many of them closing their doors behind them, hoping that, when the sun rises again, we'll be gone. What resonated with me was not the utterance of these facts, of these words, but the knowledge that we are not alone in our weeping. We are not alone in our suffering and the suffering of our fellow black and brown people. We are all together and we are all in want of change. What resonated with me were not the words, but the togetherness of us all. All of us in that room yearning for more, yearning to unweave the stitches of the city and include ourselves within. What I learned was that once united, we can never be defeated. We will always keep fighting and we will never close our doors to the cries of our neighbors....... anymore.