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  • Tuesday, May 3, 2016
  • 3:30 PM–5:00 PM
  • DeVos Communications Center Lobby

The 4th "Challenges for the Next President" discussion will focus on criminal justice reform.

In a political season increasingly marked by incivility and polarized partisanship, criminal justice reform has been a remarkable exception with Republicans and Democrats not only agreeing that something needs to be done, but actually working together on legislation to address the issue. If there is widespread agreement that previous attempts to “get tough on crime” have created systemic problems with over-incarceration, how can the pendulum swing back the other way without becoming “soft on crime”? Why does the United States have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and what can be done about it? How can punishment be better made to fit the crime, and can the criminal justice system succeed in some measure with rehabilitation in addition to retribution? How can our political system respect the good work of so many law enforcement officers while addressing abuses and inequities that are far too common and disproportionately affect minorities and lower-income citizens? Are there preventative and non-coercive policies or practices that government can develop as alternatives to the existing system? And what role can the federal government, and the new president in particular, play in addressing these questions? As part of the discussion, Professor deGroot will be talking about criminal justice reform from the perspective of prisoners who are enrolled in the Calvin Prison Initiative at the Handlon Correctional Facility.

Panelists include:
Christiana deGroot (Calvin College Religion Department); Nathan Leamer (Policy Analyst and Outreach Manager, R Street Institute) and Rev. James Jones (Oakdale Park Church); with introductions by Ben Ridder and Abbie Schutte (Henry Institute Student Research Fellows)

The Challenges for the Next President Series includes events leading up to next November's election. The programs are not intended to be debates, with a "right" and "left" focus, but instead to examine various points of view which allow us to become more educated and thoughtful voters as we go to the polls on November 8.

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