Showcasing the successes, humanity, and agency of people with criminal records
Correcting the Narrative
The Correcting the Narrative Campaign employs a combination of story-telling, and in-person and virtual events to promote acceptance of people with criminal records as not just, at best, taxpayers, employees, and neighbors, but rather equal citizens, employers, and potential family. The narrative has transitioned over time from one of fear and danger to often pity for people with criminal records and spectacle for what we did and who we were. While it is very true that the difficulties of our demographic leading to, during, and post-incarceration is absolutely true, over-portraying them is also detrimental to our end goal of equality. The pity and spectacle narrative, often pushed by well-meaning and even system-impacted people, actually causes society to connect who we are and who we can be more with our shadows and the stereotypes promoted in the media and uninformed communities.
At physical events, people with criminal records and their supporters go into communities that are more indifferent or antagonistic to them and participate in a variety of respectable activities, from volunteering to mentoring and creative projects to highly-skilled jobs. Virtual events give people from these communities and anywhere else the chance to virtually interact with people with criminal records and their supporters to ask any questions or bring up any concerns, fears, and doubts about people with criminal records and efforts to improve our approach to justice. And our story-telling (videos below) powerfully portray the successes, humanity, and agency of people with criminal records.
By engaging with these more stereotypically indifferent and antagonistic audiences, they become more supportive of or at least less opposed to reform efforts, which will result in greater respect, opportunities, and success for the estimated 70 million adults in the U.S. with a criminal record and their millions more loved ones, especially underage children.
Those we disagree with need us and we need them to achieve a society where we invest in safety and justice more than punishment and separation. IF the world were ideal, no one would have to prove their value and correct biases. However, shoulda/woulda/coulda is not a strategy for change. Tough conversations and hard realities must be embraced and accounted for in order for sustainable solutions to take place. There is almost no greater example of this than the need to reach out to those who have shown us such disregard and say: “Look. See who we truly are. We need you to confront your misperception of our successes, humanity, and agency.”
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