RedAlert Politics ran a great story on StrongReturns.org, our Millennial Prison Reform organization:
The two men are behind Strong Returns, a project that aims to make prison reform “the” millennial issue in 2016. They are eager to hear about Smith’s experience with his local drug court, an alternative to incarceration. They’re both taking their “gap year” between their college graduation and law school to promote the effort.
So instead of writing white papers and lobbying Congress, they tour colleges and share stories. This time, it’s at Washington and Lee, a small, private university in west-central Virginia with under 2,000 students. As with any other campus they visit, Davis and Johnston begin recruiting student volunteers with the intent of having them help interview people like Smith, a man with first-hand experience of the broken prison system.
They spend hours interviewing these people, unpacking their pasts and picking their brains on how to improve the system. With their volunteers’ help, they later condense it all into short video presentations, which they put on for the school at-large. Storytelling, and its ability to go viral and drive politics, is a crucial aspect of the project’s vision.
“Connecting prisons and campuses. We think that’s where the magic happens,” says Davis.
Why prison reform? According to Davis, there’s both a moral and a political argument for choosing this particular battle.
“The moral side is, if you care about any of the major issues that you’re called upon in most religious and moral systems to care about—poverty, violence, families being ripped apart—you’ll find that the system that touches all of them and that has a hand in all of them…is the prison system.”
As for politics at the national level, Davis argues that the issue bridges the partisan gap. “It’s a left-right issue. Nothing else is going to pass in Washington except for this.”
The video they reference in the article — one we made with Bill Smith of Virginia — is here: