While forgoing nerdy behavior in the comfort of my home, I came across a video on TED Talks that is worth taking the time to consider due to our country’s recent stance on current events.
Few people know of Ted Talks or the reason for its popularity but you should all become familiar with it. It is a non-profit organization, devoted to sharing the ideas of some of the world’s most renowned thinkers. The organization holds conferences that are recorded and shared online. Its slogan, “Ideas Worth Spreading”, perks my ears every time I hear it. More recently, rapper and actor, Kid Cudi did a Ted Talk sharing how he accomplished his dreams. It is definitely worth sharing as a way to inspire others to be great.
This past weekend I watched a TED talk that addressed ways to tackle the injustice of the US judicial system. The talk was from a prosecutor’s point of view. The idea may not receive the attention that it deserves but, it is worth sharing.
The major questions that need answers are the following:
In what ways can we stop the youth from receiving extensive sentences and harsh punishment after committing a crime? How can the kids get a chance at living life after doing something wrong or unlawful?
As we watch the cases for Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and many others, fail at providing justice for the victims, their families, and the black community, we seldom realize that the majority of the attention, before the trial, focuses on the position of the public defender. Rarely do we get the stance of the prosecutor but, if we do, it’s brief. The prosecutor goes under a watchful eye and the accused is always expected to plead not guilty. The prosecutor holds the “evidence” of unlawfulness and makes the decision to sue. There isn’t much else that’s asked of them when the trial begins.
Adam Foss is the Assistant District Attorney of the Juvenile Division in Suffolk County Boston, MA. He walks into the courtroom with a passion for defending the youth against unjust sentencing. Foss learned a more effective method for tackling crime which is to contest in court in a different way. This approach gives the power to undertake criminal injustice in the hands of the prosecutor and to prevent malpractice. Foss’ TED talk focuses on bringing attention to the absurd jail sentences given to the youth. The youth isn’t given explanations of how their punishment will prevent misconduct. It is a known fact that, in some states, if an 18-year-old black man gets caught with an ounce of marijuana, he gets an unreasonable sentence. The question is, how will that jail sentence help that young man to change his ways and become a better person? Foss pitches how to prevent unjust sentencing in the courtroom outside of just protesting and voting.
During his presentation, Foss shared the story of Christopher who spent years in prison. Christopher got caught selling stolen laptops to pay for college. By implementing his new approach, Foss was able to litigate Christopher with lesser charges. The new charges required Christopher to write an essay and complete community service. Foss figured out how to give this young man a chance at life while other prosecutors could have taken it away. A lot of youth get the opportunity for decriminalization through Foss’ approach. So, why aren’t other prosecutor’s adapting this approach to change a young person’s life?
Adam Foss was successful at proposing a method for getting lesser sentences for the youth. After watching his TED talk, I thought about how necessary it is to have such programs in Baltimore, MD. I’ve been a resident of Baltimore for 25 years and the increase in the crime rate is alarming. The Baltimore Uprising resulted from the death of Freddie Gray. Freddie was a 25-year-old African American male who was a victim of police brutality in April 2015. During the uprising, the city experienced a high level of crime and violence. It makes me wonder about the precautions that are taken to help protect the future of Baltimore youth. Also, I wonder about what opportunities are presented in criminal justice reform.
Baltimore needs more proactive law enforcement. They have to understand the cost that the youth pays to the US justice system in jail time. They also need to understand how this tarnishes the future of our country. As the leaders of this country, we set the example for the youth and we show them better ways of achieving success. We have to point them in the right direction towards opportunities for success.
What do you think? Do you believe Adam Foss is on to something? Would this program work in Maryland? Leave your comments below.
Check out more blogs by Taylor “Doc” Walker on Doc’s Castle Media.