Race & Incarceration

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For the Day of Conversation - Race & Incarceration Race & Incarceration Overview, links to resources and conversation guide for the day of your conversation.
Invitation Sample Invitation Sample

Increasing attention has been given to the disproportionate numbers of minorities in American prisons - especially African American detainees. A growing number of Americans see this as a reflection of racial bias in the criminal justice system - both in arrest policies and prosecution/conviction practices. Everyone wants a criminal justice system that is fair and makes our communities safer. Is it possible to have a discussion that explores opportunities to have our criminal justice system improve it's outcomes and that acknowledges a broader complexity around this question - rather than only trying to pin in on one thing or another?


Rounds/Questions: The Living Room Conversation Starts Here
A Living Room Conversation is designed to flow through 6 rounds; 5 rounds with questions and the closing. During some rounds, each question will be addressed. In other rounds, the multiple questions are intended as conversation starters and you need only respond to the one or two that matter the most to you. In the event the conversation wanders off track, we will refer to this Conversation Guide to get it back on track.

Round One: Getting Started / Why Are We Here?
● What interested you or drew you to this conversation?

Round Two: Core Values
Answer one or more of the following:
● What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
● What would your best friend say about who you are and what makes you “tick”?
● What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country now and long-term?

Round Three: Race & Incarceration
Remember that the goal for this Living Room Conversation is for all of us to listen and learn about where we have different opinions and where we have shared interests, intentions and goals. Answer one or more of the following questions:
● Are there community and cultural differences that contribute to a higher incarceration rate among non-white people?
● Is the current system fair? What is the basis for your belief in the fairness or unfairness?
● What are the factors that contribute to your sense of safety in your surroundings?
● How often are you in neighborhoods with a diverse population?

Round Four: Reflection
Answer one or more of the following questions:
● In one sentence, share what was most meaningful / valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation.
● What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on this topic?
● Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?

Round Five: Accomplishment and Next Steps
Answer both of the following questions:
● What is one important thing you thought was accomplished here?
● Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

Closing – Thank you! Please complete the feedback form (attached) to help improve Living Room Conversations.