You Might Go To Prison With Justin Brooks

You Might Go To Prison With Justin Brooks

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We’ve been doling out the same punishment for a thousand years.

 

This concept of prisons… everything else in our society seems to evolve into a better way to do things. But we’re doing the same thing we’re doing a thousand years ago.

 

So how can it possibly be the best way to approach things?”

 

­ – Justin Brooks, today’s guest and author of the new book You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent

 

Our guests often remind us that we’re no longer in a place where we can simply sit and discuss the changes we need to make. We are in dire need of a revolution. In this episode, Justin Brooks, the director and co-founder of the California Innocence Project and author of the new book You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent, shares with us deep Insights into a judicial system that is dysfunctional, subjective, racist, and classist.

 

Did you know that you can be wrongfully convicted if you look like someone else? If you have a bad lawyer? If you’re not good at answering questions? If you live in the city or in the country? Or if someone you’re close to gets murdered? These are just a handful of reasons why innocent people are often convicted and sent to prison.

 

Join us as we discuss why innocent people go to jail, what happens to innocent people in jail, and creative ways to disrupt and rebuild our outdated judicial system.

 

Links

 

Justin Brooks

 

Justin Brook’s new book, You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent: https://www.amazon.com/Might-Prison-Though-Youre-Innocent/dp/0520386833/

 

The California Innocence Project: https://californiainnocenceproject.org/

 

Quantum Revolution

 

For more information and for full transcripts (starting with season 6), please go to our website at https://quantumrevolutionpodcast.com/.

 

Timestamps:

 

(0:00-2:35) Introduction to this episode, “You Might Go to Prison with Justin Brooks”, with Karen Curry Parker.

 

(2:35-3:57) Welcoming Justin Brooks.

 

(3:57-6:59) What is The California Innocence Project?

 

(6:59-8:04) How many innocent people has Justin Brooks help exonerate?

 

(8:04-12:20) What kind of evidence does it take to prove someone is innocent and what does it take to get the innocent person out of prison?

 

(12:20-14:24) Is our system biased? Is justice blind or are we blind to innocence?

 

(14:24-19:09) How do we fulfill the intention of the judicial system?

 

(19:09-21:47) Many of the people in the criminal justice system are there because they are suffering the long-term symptoms of having been abused or injured psychologically during childhood.

 

(21:47-24:11) Justin’s ability to not succumb to despair with the powerful and difficult work he does every day.

 

(24:11-26:29) What is Justin’s vision of the criminal justice system in a perfect world?

 

(26:29-27:35) Thank you from Karen Curry Parker and Justin Brooks.

 

(27:35-29:31 Outro to this episode, “You Might Go to Prison with Justin Brooks”, with Karen Curry Parker.

(29:31-30:13) Outro to the Quantum Revolution Podcast.

 

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Transcript

[Introduction to this episode, “You Might Go to Prison with Justin Brooks”, with Karen Curry Parker]

 

Karen Curry Parker: Sometimes on Quantum Revolution, we have such amazing conversations that are so relevant I’m inspired to revisit them. Our guests often remind us that we’re no longer in a place where we can simply sit and discuss the changes we need to make. We are in dire need of a revolution. In this episode, Justin Brooks, the director and co-founder of the California Innocence Project and author of the brand-new book You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent, shares with us deep Insights into a judicial system that is dysfunctional, subjective, racist, and classist.

Karen Curry Parker: Did you know that you can be wrongfully convicted if you look like someone else? If you have a bad lawyer? If you’re not good at answering questions? If you live in the city or in the country? Or if someone you’re close to gets murdered? These are just a handful of reasons why innocent people are often convicted and sent to prison.

Karen Curry Parker: Justin’s research and writing illuminates how if you are the wrong race or gender, if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, even if you’re innocent, you might go to prison and you might not get out.

Karen Curry Parker: Justin Brooks has been recognized several times by the Los Angeles Daily Journal as one of the top 100 lawyers in California. In 2010 and 2012, California Lawyer Magazine recognized him with the Lawyer of the Year award. Justin has dedicated most of his professional and personal life to overturning wrongful convictions. His passion has spurred him to create innocence projects all over the world and to train young lawyers to work to help free innocent people and transform the judicial system.

Karen Curry Parker: Join us as we discuss why innocent people go to jail, what happens to innocent people in jail, and creative ways to disrupt and rebuild our outdated judicial system.

 

 

 

[Introduction to the Quantum Revolution Podcast]

Announcer: You’re listening to Quantum Revolution with Karen Curry Parker, exploring new frontiers in consciousness, science, and evolution. Join us in intimate conversations with cutting edge scientists, spiritual leaders, artists, disruptors, and visionaries who are working towards reframing the narrative of our future by healing the rift between spirituality and science, reclaiming creativity, and laying the foundation for a new world.

And now, here’s your host, Karen Curry Parker.

 

 

[Interview dialogue with Karen Curry Parker and Justin Brooks]

Karen Curry Parker: Hi, I’m Karen Curry Parker. Welcome to Quantum Revolution. Today I’m gonna be talking to Justin Brooks, who is the director of the California Innocence Project and a tenured professor at California Western School of Law. So, some of you may know Justin from the Brian Banks movie. Some of you may know him as one of California’s top 100 lawyers.

Karen Curry Parker: He is an incredible criminal justice reform activist. A person who specializes and is passionate about getting innocent people out of prison. And he’s gonna be here today to talk about a subject that’s gonna be a little bit different than some of the topics that we cover. We talk a lot about science, and we talk a lot about the time that it takes for us to change our paradigm, and shift and integrate scientific information into our common knowledge base.

Karen Curry Parker: Today we’re gonna be talking about the length of time that it takes to change the criminal justice system. We’re gonna be exploring what needs to change and what’s happening right now in the criminal justice system that might be impeding it from being a really just and equitable system that gives people the opportunity to transform and heal.

Karen Curry Parker: So, I’m really, really excited to have you here today. Welcome Justin.

Justin Brooks: It’s my pleasure. I’m happy to be here.

Karen Curry Parker: So, I wanna know a little bit about what do you do exactly as, uh, especially as the director of the California Innocence Project.

Justin Brooks: Sure. So about 25 years ago, I was a law professor in Michigan, and I read a story about a woman on death row, and the article said that she’d been sentenced to death on a plea bargain. I couldn’t understand how anybody could be sentenced to death on a plea bargain.

Karen Curry Parker: What would be worse than that?

Justin Brooks: Exactly. So basically, that means you gave up your right to a trial, you gave up most of your appellate rights, and you got the worst sentence you could have gotten if you’d gone through all that. And maybe you would’ve been acquitted, maybe you had a lesser sentence, but there’s nothing worse that can happen than that. So, it made no sense to me. And she was very young, 21 years old. She was a 21-year-old Puerto Rican woman. As you know, I have an affinity for Puerto Ricans and Puerto Rico having spent a good part of my childhood there.

Justin Brooks: And so, I went and met her on death row. She had an execution date, and I found this very confused person who didn’t know how she’d ended up in that situation. Her lawyer had told her to plead out, and then she said to me, “and I’m innocent.” And I said, you’re innocent, and yet you pled guilty. “Yeah, my lawyer said it was the thing I should do.”

Justin Brooks: So, I went back and told my first-year criminal law students at the law school, I was teaching, that same story and four brave, stupid souls raised their hands. (Justin laughs) That night, we sat in my kitchen table and went through the police reports, and that was the birth of the Innocence Project.

Justin Brooks: We worked a couple of years together on the case, got her death sentence reversed. And I remember just vividly sitting in my car at 17th and California in Chicago on a cold winter night, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life is get innocent people outta prison. And I decided I wanted to do it with students and with young people because I realized working on that case that the best way to train them to be great lawyers was to work on real cases. To do the same thing they’ve done with med school forever. In that you can’t train skills without real life experience. And you know, nobody wants a doctor who walks in and says, oh, you’re my first patient. It’s the same thing with lawyers. They shouldn’t be their first client when they’re on their own.

Justin Brooks: So, I moved to California because it was the largest prison system in the United States and launched the California Innocence Project back in 1999. And the idea was, I had three missions. One was obviously get innocent people outta prison. The second one was to do it while I’m training students. And the third one was to do policy reforms to improve the criminal justice system.

Justin Brooks: So, I wanted to do the micro and the macro. And the micro is in my heart watching each individual person walk outta prison, working on the individual cases. And then the macro is, is trying to make a system so on the front end there’s fewer innocent people that end up in that situation. So that’s what the California Innocence Project is.

Karen Curry Parker: So, over the years you’ve gotten how many people exonerated who were innocent?

Justin Brooks: I just this past week, walked my 36th innocent person out of prison. That’s here at my project in California. During that time of the past 20 some years, I’ve helped launch projects all around the United States, around the world. I oversee 25 innocence organizations in Latin America that I launched from Chile and Buenos Aires all the way up to the Mexican border.

Justin Brooks: And we’ve seen this become a global movement. And so, I sit on a board that oversees all the projects around the world. And it’s a universal problem. There are innocent people in prison everywhere in the world. There’s no such thing as a perfect criminal justice system. When I started this work, it was tough convincing people of that, but now we’re approaching 2000 documented cases of innocence just in the United States alone.

Justin Brooks: It’s a global problem and we’re seeing improvements. If you stick around long enough, you can see change, and I’ve been at this for a while.

Karen Curry Parker: So, there are two threads that I really wanna go down with you, and the first one is walk us through the process of you or your team discovering, hey, this person is innocent and the evidence reflects that they’re innocent. We know, first of all, what kind of evidence does it take to get somebody out of prison to prove that they’re innocent?

Karen Curry Parker: And what does it take to actually get them out of jail? ‘Cause you can’t just call up the judge and go, guys, you made a mistake. So, what’s the process?

Justin Brooks: Un-ringing the bell in the United States, and pretty much everywhere in the world, when someone’s been convicted is incredibly difficult. We receive thousands of letters a year. I’ve got a massive team of law students and volunteers. I’ve got nine full-time lawyers. I’ve got a hundred volunteer lawyers. At any time, I may have 30 to 40 students working in my office.

Justin Brooks: And so we receive thousands of letters. We send out questionnaires when people are saying they’re innocent. We gather the documents in their case. We look at their appellate briefs, we look at the police reports, we look at as many documents as we can get. We go out and talk to the trial lawyers. We talk to the appellate lawyers. We meet with the clients in prison. We talk to their family, and we try to decide whether it’s a, a case that’s winnable. Twice a week we have presentations. I have the awful Caesar-like power of thumbs up or thumbs down. Where my lawyers or my law students stand up and they’ll do a PowerPoint presentation on the case and hand out all the documents and we’ll either talk about, here’s some things we can do to move this case forward, or we’ll decide this just isn’t gonna go anywhere.

Justin Brooks: And the tragic part of that is, I know in a lot of those cases, it’s very likely they’re innocent, but in my phase, I’m sort of the last stop before people die in prison. Because most of the cases we get now are lifer cases or death penalty cases, and I have the burden of proof.

Justin Brooks: So, at trial, the prosecutor has to prove guilt. By the time I get a case, I have to prove innocence by overwhelming evidence. DNA opened that door in the 1990s that all of a sudden, we had overwhelming evidence of innocence like we’d never seen in history. And all the initial cases were all DNA exonerations. Those cases are getting fewer and fewer because now they’re using DNA at the trial level, so cases aren’t sliding through where they didn’t do a rape kit, DNA test, or something like that.

Justin Brooks: But, because of DNA, judges started opening their minds to other causes of wrongful conviction. And, basically, the general public as well started to accept the fact that innocent people are in prison. And, and one statistic that I like to talk about is that we’ve walked in the United States 4% of the people off death row who are sentenced to death based on innocence.

Justin Brooks: Now if you look at those cases, those are the most serious cases. They get the most media scrutiny, they get the most trial attorneys assigned to them. They get the most resources. They’re bifurcated trials, which means there’s more due process. There’s automatic review by the state Supreme Court. It’s the only type of case that gets that.

Justin Brooks: So, these are the cases that are most serious and most scrutinized. And still we’ve walked off 4% of the people sentenced to death. And we know that that’s the tip of the iceberg ’cause those were the lucky ones. Those were the ones where evidence still existed that could prove their innocence. And even after everything was scrutinized at trial, still some evidence came up that proved their innocence.

Justin Brooks: So, if you put those numbers forward as to what we’re looking at in terms of this problem, we incarcerate millions of people in the United States. And, you know, if the number was as low as 1%, it’s a massive number. And we know it’s much greater than that.

Justin Brooks: It’s a difficult task. It’s sort of a funnel where I look at many, many cases. I find the ones that I believe we can prove. We work those cases until we get that person outta prison. And then we publicize those cases so that people are educated on why did this person go to prison? Because every wrongful incarceration is like a plane crash, and every time there’s a plane crash, we study it to stop other planes from crashing.

Justin Brooks: And that’s what we need to do more of.

Karen Curry Parker: Right. Right. Well, and I think that really begs maybe a little bit of a different question, and that is, is our system biased? And is there something in the way in which people are being convicted that makes us blind, sometimes, to innocence?

Justin Brooks: Absolutely. Whenever I get into arguments with people about bias in the criminal justice system, if you deny there’s bias in the criminal justice system, then you’re denying there’s bias in society at large because that’s all the criminal justice system is. It’s people who get up every day and go down to a courthouse, whether they’re judges or they’re jurors, and make decisions, and they bring into that process all their biases.

Justin Brooks: I’m just finished writing a book right now that’s called You Might Go to Prison. And one of the chapters addresses this, and I talk about a lot of these studies that are fascinating to look at how race, for instance, biases the criminal justice system. They’ve actually done sort of virtual reality trials where people can watch a trial and they can change the race of the defendant. And then they ask them what the verdict should be and what the sentence should be. And it’s shown definitively that when it’s people of color, they get greater sentences. It’s also shown definitively when the victims are white people, they get greater sentences.

Justin Brooks: And we see that every day around us. I mean, if you look at some of these national news stories, particularly when it’s a white woman who goes missing or is killed, it becomes national news. And when that happens, prosecutors wanna jump into that story. So now they’ll prosecute that case much more harshly than another case because that’s human nature and now everyone’s watching that case. And then jurors are more likely to greater sentences. So, all our own biases, insecurities, fallibilities, of being a human being, all are part of the criminal justice system because it’s not computers that make these decisions.

Justin Brooks: It’s human beings and we make ’em just like every other decision in our lives.

Karen Curry Parker: So, if you were gonna perhaps shift the system. Maybe change some of the bias in the system. What would be some of the things you would do to make this system more effective and less punitive and to actually fulfill maybe the intention of the judicial system?

Justin Brooks: Yeah, I got a million answers to that question. (Karen and Justin laugh) So, um, I mean, let’s start with the fact of our criminal justice system is over politicized. People don’t run for office on reforming contract law. People don’t run for office on 99% of the mundane issues that lawyers deal with every day, people run for office on criminal justice and they use fear as a tool to get votes.

Justin Brooks: They stand at the podium and say, I’m gonna make you safer. I’m gonna make your family safer. And then how do they execute on that? Well, you know, on our system of politics, you’ve gotta be able to execute within the first two years or you’re not getting reelected. I mean, if it’s congress, you gotta do it within the first six months or you’re not getting reelected. So, we do little short fixes, put more police on the street, build more prisons. And we’ve been doing this for decades.

Justin Brooks: I know you’re old enough to remember Willie Horton. My students do not remember this, but I always tell ’em about Willie Horton and this one guy who was out on parole who committed serious crimes. When Mike Dukakis was running for president against George Bush the first, George Bush’s team came up with the clever idea of, well, Mike Dukakis is governor of Massachusetts. Let’s find someone who’s been released from prison on parole and has done violent crimes, and then we’ll use that as the poster person to say that Mike Dukakis is soft on crime.

Justin Brooks: They did that, successfully won the election, and it was one of the most significant events in the history of criminal justice in the United States because ever since then, every politician has learned it doesn’t pay to be soft on crime and add into the mix that there’s massive money in corrections. Billions and billions of dollars. That money then gets funneled to politicians who sell a message of, we need more prison facilities. And there’s this kind of evil cycle going on where it’s become about money, it’s become about politics, and it’s not about how can we build the best criminal justice system that’s best for our society.

Justin Brooks: So, we’ve been warehousing people. We’ve somehow, as the richest country in the world, built the biggest prison system in the world with also the highest recidivism rate in the world. So, we can argue the most unsuccessful system. And none of that makes sense. When you look at the fact that crime is directly linked to poverty, why would the richest country in the world have the most people in prison?

Justin Brooks: Uh, yet we do. And, you know, Richard Nixon launched the War on Drugs and prior to that, prior to that, and this is a number most people don’t know, prior to the 1970s, you could not be incarcerated for more than a year in prison for any drug crime. Well, you and I have grown up in a world where it’s like, oh yeah, you go to prison 20 years, 30 years for drugs, that’s become the norm.

Justin Brooks: That was not the norm. So how do we start pulling this system down? Well, I gotta tell you, I’ve been optimistic the past few years. We have seen reductions in people in prison. We have seen reductions in sentencing. Now, sadly, that’s mostly due to the financial impact that finally people woke up and said, we don’t have unlimited money. We can’t just keep building prisons.

Justin Brooks: But it’s a slow process. In California, for instance, the Correctional Officers Union is the second most powerful union. So, you have the combination of people building prisons and people work in them. And we’ve created an entire industry.

Justin Brooks: And, and by the way, while the numbers have been going down in prisons, another interesting thing has happened. A new industry has emerged, and that’s building immigration detention facilities. It’s no surprise that now politicians jump on that bandwagon. Let’s lock more people up in immigration detention facilities. There’s money there.

Justin Brooks: So, I don’t wanna be overly cynical about it cause I think there are changes that can be made. But I think the first change is the general public becoming aware that they shouldn’t be voting out of fear. We should be looking at, you know, what will make a better society. And if we’re so wrapped up in punishment, then what we end up doing is putting people in prison who just come out and commit more crimes because we’re not investing in education, we’re not investing in training, we’re not investing in making those people into better people with better opportunities. And until we do that, there’s not gonna be much change.

Karen Curry Parker: We spoke this season with Dr. Eric Kuelker, who talked about the relationship between childhood, psychological injuries, meaning abuse, trauma, et cetera, and the adult addiction population, if you wanna call it that, and the relationship between injury and trauma and addiction and drug use. And I think if you start to, you know, look at that in through the lens of the criminal justice system, how many of the people in the criminal justice system are there because they are suffering the long-term symptoms of having been abused or injured psychologically during childhood.

Justin Brooks: a shocking amount. While you were just talking about that, I was thinking of two of my clients. These were two cases that I had where they were both in prison for 20 years on third strikes, and their prior crimes were just theft crimes to feed drug addictions of people who’d grown up in just horrible circumstances.

Justin Brooks: And their files sat on my desk for more than a year because they weren’t innocence cases. One guy had been put in prison for stealing a $150 leaf blower. Got a life sentence ’cause that was his third theft. The other guy had possession of drug paraphernalia, not even drugs, and he was in for life. And California, we finally got this reform passed that said your third strike had to be serious or violent. Most people didn’t realize. Most people thought that was the law, but it wasn’t. Basically, any third felony was gonna put you in prison and just depended how the prosecutor would prosecute the case.

Justin Brooks: I remember so vividly I go up to see this guy in San Quentin and he didn’t even know I’d been working on his case, it’d just been sitting on my desk, and I said, you know, I’m walking you outta here. Um, this is over. This nightmare is over. And he just starts sobbing. You know, he’d been in prison 20 years, had no write-ups, had done nothing. Had been trying to educate himself, make himself into a better person. And it’s just shocking the way our society will just throw people away with things like that.

Justin Brooks: And I think again, it’s the general public think prisons are filled with violent, horrible people and they’re just not. That’s just, that’s a fiction. Most people in prison have issues, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, growing up in poverty, abuse. That lead to behavior that land them in prison.

Justin Brooks: And there’s this tiny percentage of people in prison who are these sorts of sociopaths that are people that can’t be reformed, that have to be out of society. It’s a very, very small percentage. And I’ve been going in and out of prisons now for 30 years. I spent three years teaching in a prison. They’re regular people who went through tough times.

Karen Curry Parker: How do you put Teflon on yourself to be able to keep going with this work that you do and not just succumb to the despair?

Justin Brooks: I don’t, (Justin laughs) I don’t know if I don’t. Um, I mean, I think the greatest thing is my team. I know I would’ve quit a long time ago if I was alone in this. I have an amazing team. All the lawyers that I have are my former students. I train them. I hired them. They’re my best friends. We work together every day. We celebrate the wins we cry in, in the losses. We keep each other going and keep each other motivated through it. I’ve got a great family. I live in a beautiful place. I live in San Diego. I live near the beach. I try to decompress as much as possible.

Justin Brooks: I try to keep my sense of humor, although recently I had a whole thing where I was realizing people used to think I was funny and, and people don’t think I’m so funny anymore. I think I’ve become a little too intense. (Karen and Justin laugh) I used, I still in my head, considered myself a funny person, but the feedback I’ve been getting… and then I started like a maniac asking people whether they thought I was funny, which they must think I’m like funny in the sense losing my mind when I’m asking that question. (Karen Laughs)

Justin Brooks: I was like, come on. I was like the class clown. This is ridiculous. It’s hard. It’s hard. I don’t sleep well. I haven’t slept well in 20 some years. I exercise every single day, religiously. I run, I play tennis, I lift weights. I try to do as much self-care as I can, but it, it’s hard. I definitely have hard days.

Karen Curry Parker: I appreciate you sharing that, ’cause I think sometimes when you carry a dream of what’s possible for the future and you look at the immediate of what’s happening around you, it’s easy to lose connection to that. So, I have a lot of respect for your ability to keep going.

Justin Brooks: The other part of it is when you’re a leader, you’re kind of forced to have that conversation with other people and then you’re having it with yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to one of my lawyers, focus today, focus on what you can do today for this person in front of you. Don’t think about the big picture. Don’t think about the big problems.

Justin Brooks: Because the reality is if we all thought about the big picture, you know, we’re hurdling on this rock into a great void. You can’t go too big picture and like keep yourself grounded. So, it’s this case by case. What can I do for this person? What can I do for the next person? What can I do between the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep? To try and move the ball a little bit further forward for at least one person.

Karen Curry Parker: That’s beautiful. So we, we always like to end our conversations here with a contemplation of the future. And, you know, I always go back and think about NASA and how at some point in the trajectory of this hurling rock we’re on, somebody looked up at the sky and said, “hey, we should go to the moon.” And a lot of people probably thought, wow, this person’s had too much mead and laughed.

Karen Curry Parker: And of course, eventually, somebody and a group of people continue to hold that dream created the creation of the fulfillment of that dream. So, I like to end with a dream, and I like to end with a dream from people who are really leading the wave of change on the planet. So, in your perfect world, Professor Brooks, what would the future of the criminal justice system look like?

Karen Curry Parker: What would be the perfect way that we could support people in making different choices, changing their behaviors, and managing criminal activity and the response to it?

Justin Brooks: I think in a perfect world it would be extraordinarily individualized. You know, we’ve been doling out the same punishment for a thousand years. This concept of prisons, you know, everything else in our society seems to evolve in like a better way to do things, but we’re doing the same thing we’re doing a thousand years ago. So how can it possibly be the best way to approach things?

Justin Brooks: It’s just, it lacks so much creativity. I always think about it as a parent. If as a parent and your child stole a cookie and you’d say, go to your room for an hour. And then we say, well, but if you kill your sister, it’s go to your room for a million hours. It’s the exact same punishment except for more time. It completely lacks creativity in every sense.

Justin Brooks: So, in my perfect criminal justice system, we look at each individual case and look at each individual situation, and we be focused, laser focused on how can we solve the problem here? How can we make this person into a better person?

Justin Brooks: How can we make people who are harmed whole? And how can we do what’s best for society? And not have it so politicized so driven by money, so driven by careers. But really where people have the best interest of other people in their heart as they approach the problem.

Karen Curry Parker: Beautiful. Beautiful. So, in case I didn’t mention this at the beginning, your story, your Brian Banks story, which is, I think one of your most, I might say your greatest exoneration, but certainly most publicized one was turned into a movie, the Brian Banks Story. And you can still catch this movie on the major places where you can see movies, and I know you can still catch it on Delta if you fly around.

Justin Brooks: It’s also on Hulu.

Karen Curry Parker: And on Hulu. The thing about that movie is it gives you hope. It really does give you a lot of hope that people can heal from this experience and move on. And also gives you hope, what it looks like when somebody sees a problem and commits their entire life to solving the problem as you have. And continues to do good work in the world and makes a powerful difference in the world, not just for the individual people you exonerate, but again, with the important steps that you’re taking to help us rethink this problem and find a different solution.

Karen Curry Parker: Thank you for being here today, and thank you for the work that you do.

Justin Brooks: My pleasure. Thanks for the conversation.

 

 

 

[Outro to this episode, “You Might Go to Prison with Justin Brooks”, with Karen Curry Parker]

Karen Curry Parker: We can’t transform the judicial system if we’re not taking a realistic look at what is actually happening. If the goal of the criminal justice system is to rehabilitate people, we’re failing. Decades of research has shown that prison is the least effective place to rehabilitate offenders. Studies have indicated that a stint in prison increases the likelihood that inmates will re-offend.

Karen Curry Parker: Many inmates start off as young offenders who are deeply traumatized and become more traumatized by a system that clearly does not work. Caught somewhere in the middle of a system that is racist and biased, innocent people become imprisoned and have to fight their way out. As you heard in our conversation today, the limitation of manpower available and the institutional red tape that has to be navigated means that many innocent people remain incarcerated.

Karen Curry Parker: What would a just judiciary system look like? How could we better rehabilitate people who commit crimes so that they can be reintroduced back into society as healed individuals? How do we tackle racism in the current system? These are the questions we must be asking as a society. We might not have the answers to these questions yet, but it’s time we start imagining new possibilities and then taking the incremental steps as they appear in front of us.

Karen Curry Parker: One step that you can take today is to visit californiainnocenceproject.org and make a donation. Your contribution is used to help innocent people get off death row. Also, make sure to grab a copy of Justin’s new book, You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent, at any major retail bookstore.

Karen Curry Parker: I’m Karen Curry Parker. Thank you for joining me for Quantum Revolution. Please be sure to subscribe to this podcast on your favorite platform so you don’t miss any of the amazing shows that we have in store for you.

 

 

 

[Outro to the Quantum Revolution Podcast]

Announcer: Thank you for joining us on Quantum Revolution with Karen Curry Parker. For more information on how to change your world and to hear more about our guests today, visit quantumrevolutionpodcast.com. Make sure you follow us on your favorite podcasting platform, so you don’t miss a single episode of Quantum Revolution.

We’ll see you next time for some more groundbreaking conversations with Karen and her guests. How will you impact your world, today?