Josh Croskey, President 20/20 Motivation, LLC

Had a great conversation yesterday with Josh Croskey, president of 20/20 Motivation. Josh has deep ties within the Washington State Department of Education & we are forming a partnership with his organization that will enable us to speak with the state bureaucracy regarding the importance of education in our penal institutions as well with kids in public schools potentially statewide to encourage them to stay on the correct path by subtly, but clearly, stating some of the realities of life behind bars. We are excited and grateful for the opportunity!

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Connecting with the Port Gamble S’Kallam Tribe of Washington State

This is Janel McFeat and Shared Vebber, Project Manager and Case Manager respectively for the Port Gamble S’Kallam Tribe Re-Entry Program of Washington State.
It was an incredible experience to meet with Janel & her team on May 2nd about their program which is recognized nationally for the broad and innovative steps it’s taking to make sure that once individuals are released from prison or jail, they stay that way. There simply aren’t enough words to describe how compassionate, empathetic & flat-out determined this woman & her team are to reduce recidivism & deliver a knockout blow the epidemic of #MassIncarceration that has for far too long plagued this country …
LawrenceSpeaks is clean amazed to be offered the opportunity of partnership with this organization, to be given a seat at a table that will both amplify & strengthen our voice, mission & cause & we consider it an honor to stand shoulder to shoulder with them to assist wherever we can with their much needed initiatives. Now comes the ascension, my friends … WE. WILL. NOT. LOSE.

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Team Pow-Wow

Met with the team last evening for a bite and massive collab session. The ideas and synergy that came about were just AMAZING.

I’m learning along with my team that building a movement like this is NOTHING like putting together your standard business venture where, basically, you have a defined product or set of products, a target consumer group & a numbers-based “model” & “marketing” plan designed and refined with the best way to get those products into said consumers hands in exchange for the bottom line …
The issues that this movement rallies around are socially complex, politically ambiguous and aren’t sequestered to one particular social or economic class in terms of their broader social impact.

The target is constantly moving. The cause of #JuvenileJustice & #CriminalJusticeReform is one that’s passionately advocated by many and fiercely opposed by even more. In this lane, in the realm of activism, one cannot measure forward movement only by interacting with those in agreement, rather, one MUST engage with the opposition for success to occur for that is the very nature of activism, to persuade hearts and minds, which takes guts, empathy, great patience and a genuine passion for the cause.

So I’m both thankful for & amazed at the brilliance & professionalism of the individuals who have been pouring everything they’ve got to this point to insure that going forward, while it is not and will not be easy, we will never lose. Thanks for everything Taylor, Sid and Amanda!

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12-24 …

The age group determined by the scientific community to be human adolescence, the years that the human mind is most vulnerable, impressionable & still learning to make proper decisions.
Given this, it is evident that our country’s policy of #MassIncarceration doesn’t match up to the science we know. We have kids being tried as adults and being forced to survive in adult penal institutions. Kids who, while they may know right from wrong, aren’t equipped psychologically with the tools to handle these critical decision processes. So our answer has been to punish, punish, punish. A “solution” that clearly isn’t working. We need to give our kids a chance!

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1994 …

The year that former #president #BillClinton signed into law, under his sweeping and ill-formed #CrimeBill, that no individual incarcerated in federal or state #prison should receive a #PellGrant which would enable them to pursue higher education while incarcerated which, in turn, would make it easier for newly released inmates to acquire gainful employment & become productive members of society.
Again, the question is why, why would our lawmakers even entertain, let alone pass, such a counterintuitive and destructive piece of legislation? IT FED THE BEAST OF RECIDIVISM that the folks on capitol claim so ardently to want to defeat.
I was in a max security federal facility when this happened. It demoralized the men there. Made many who were pursuing degrees want to give up. Education was the only hope for us and the government yanked it, like they actually WANTED US TO GET OUT AND COME BACK TO PRISON. Hmmm … imagine that.
In 2016, former president @barackobama reversed this, in part. He created the Second Chance Pell Grant which went to a very limited number of inmates. But by then, more than 20 yrs had gone by with inmates entering society with only their instincts to guide them.
And why does this even matter, you may be wondering, what difference does it make if a bunch of law breakers get an education? Well, I believe the most effective way to respond is with a question of my own:
These men & women are getting out, regardless. So, who do you want as your neighbor, someone committed to positive change, or someone hellbent on continuing their old, destructive ways?

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Sobering Stats

Of the 34,000 #juveniles currently incarcerated in #America, 7,200 of them are locked up for “offenses” that aren’t even considered crimes?
(Source: The Prison Policy Initiative)

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The Kennedy Factor

Ted Kennedy was a young United States Senator when, as a result of his own admitted negligence, he drove his car off a one-lane bridge and into a tidal channel, resulting in the death of his companion, 28 year-old Mary Jo Kopechne. He swam free, left the scene and didn’t report the incident for 10 hours, adding more grief to an already horrific situation.
Many believe this incident led to Kennedy’s decision to not campaign for the presidency in ’72 and ’76. Nevertheless, Ted Kennedy did go on to become one of the greatest legislators to ever sit in the sacred chamber of the U.S. Senate. By the time of his passing on August 25, 2009, he was held in great regard on both sides of the aisle and was commonly referred to as the “Lion of the Senate.” It is indeed most laudable that Kennedy, in spite of his grievous and most regrettable shortfall that caused the death of another human being, would still take hold of his destiny.
So what then can be said of the millions of drug dealers, robbers, petty thieves and burglars incarcerated across this country, many of whom come from impoverished homes and communities? Why are they viewed by many in society as not deserving of redemption? Whereas, individuals like Kennedy and the architects behind the 2008 financial meltdown, the privileged few who have the political ties, capital and so-called “pedigree” to circumvent punishment, are seen as above reproach no matter their offenses?
Again, we don’t claim that the late Kennedy shouldn’t have been able to ascend to his destiny … We are only stating emphatically and without equivocation that American Society, if it is to be the fair and just society it postures to be, should give room for the redemption of ALL THOSE who are willing to do the hard work and utter alchemic transformation required to achieve it.

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#NewYork #StockExchange ticker symbols for Corrections Corp. of America and GEO Group, two publicly traded private prison companies. Now, if you know anything at all about stocks you know that for a company to be publicly traded and especially on an exchange as venerable as #NYSE, that company has to be making SERIOUS BANK. Point is, #MassIncarceration is an extremely profitable business in the United States of America. Therefore, it makes sense that our lawmakers, both #republicans and #democrats (#BillClinton’s 1994 Crime Bill & #RonaldReagan’s War on Drugs), who are traditionally so damn beholden to #WallStreet, would formulate laws to send as many individuals as they possibly can through the meat grinder that is our #prisonsystem.
Take my case for example: When I was convicted in federal court in the early 90’s, I HAD NEVER BEEN IN TROUBLE BEFORE. In fact, I had just gotten honorably discharged from serving in the United States Armed Forces. So, after serving my country with distinction, like a fool, I broke the law. Being a 1st time offender, no one thought I would get much time. But as the process wore on and when sentencing day finally came, it turned bad. I remember the Judge telling me that he “had no choice”, that discretion had been taken out of his hands in the matter and because of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing laws (imposed by the Clinton Administration, by the way) that he had to impose the 130-month sentence on me.
Now, why would our politicians make such laws? Laws where our judges, who are in the courtroom with these defendants and have a real sense for the needs of each case, can’t even give what they feel is the appropriate sentence, which, in essence, is the whole reason a judge sits on the bench in the first damn place?
They did it to feed that corporate beast. They did it and STILL do it for money. Our young people are being set up in a most disparate & unfair manner for the proverbial slaughter that is our prison system and in many cases ALL FOR A DAMN DOLLAR. Do the crime, do the time? Yes. But the time given should be fair & not motivated by greed.

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… And Counting

The number of individuals currently incarcerated in U.S. #prisons. By far more than any country in the world.
2.2 million incarcerated. Doesn’t count for the well over 4million on #probation or #parole & definitely doesn’t speak to the tens of millions of families & friends of these individuals affected by their incarceration.
Some say, “Well, they shouldn’t’ve did the damn crime …” This is indeed true BUT the epidemic of #massincarceration in this country is NOWHERE NEAR THAT SIMPLISTIC. Laws are skewed in favor of certain economic classes and stacked against others.
For example: A minority caught with as little as 5 ounces of #crackcocaine gets, on average, 30 years in max security federal prison whereas not one #wallstreet #ceo responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown that destroyed countless families & sucked billions of dollars needlessly from our economy has seen a single day inside a jail cell. NOT. ONE. SINGLE. DAY. This is the ugly & disparate truth of our #JusticeSystem.
We absolutely believe people should be held accountable for their wrongs but the punishment should fit the crime & no one should be above said punishment.
So, when I consider this number, over 2million souls locked away & the tens of millions of friends & families connected to them I think this:
The number of individuals who may frown upon my story or anyone who has a story like mine, FREAKING PALES in comparison to the ones who can relate & the ones who need help & hope.
And so it is in this light I encourage everyone who may read this, whatever your passion is, whatever goal or mission constitutes the weight of your heart, speak your truth boldly, clearly and unapologetically. Don’t fear the frowns or rejection because for everyone of those, there is a veritable army waiting in the wings to not only help you along your path but to accelerate its trajectory beyond what you can even imagine. Bottom line: it’s impossible to lose when we walk in our truth. So get after it, fam & STAY AFTER IT.

Connect with us to learn more about our mission to reach our at-risk and incarcerated youth!