The opening to her post is cute, in the sense that she plays the internets’ bi-polar self-loathing for listicles:
Do you like lists? Of course you do! It’s the Internet! So try this one:
1. Koch Brothers
2. National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
3. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
4. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
5. George Soros
6. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
7. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
8. Newt Gingrich
9. American Civil Liberties Union
10. Grover Norquist
Apart from a passionate certainty that either liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans (pick one) are a danger to the republic, what does this motley crew have in common?
Here’s what: They all agree that America’s practice of mass incarceration—unique in the world—is at worst a moral and practical failure or at best an outdated policy badly in need of adjustment.
Her point, that the failure of mass incarceration has begun to transcend politics, is well made. But hey, this is Tina Brown, and who better to use cute effectively. After reading the well-worn stats, and then a laundry list of familiar anecdotes, she gets to her point.
Tina Brown Live Media is co-hosting The American Justice Summit on Monday, November 10, from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, with John Jay College President Jeremy Travis, author Piper Kerman, activist Harry Belafonte, The New Yorker legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson, head of private banking and new markets for Credit Suisse Pamela Thomas Graham, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, and The Marshall Project President Neil Barsky.
And if you think that’s impressive, just wait until you see the full agenda. Rather than reprint it here, take a moment to skim through it. There will be a quiz at the end.
Pop Quiz: After sifting through all the big name celebrities, grand poobahs of various organizations dedicated to good causes, Norman Seabrook, NYC corrections union apologist, Pamela Thomas-Graham, Chief Marketing and Talent Officer for Credit Suisse (because they paid good money to get her in there), plus the usual suspects from The Marshall Project which has yet to accomplish anything anywhere for anyone but exists to save us because they’re important, who do you not see on the program?
Answer: Anybody with a clue.
Well, my hyperbole isn’t entirely accurate. Jeremy Travis was once a legal aid lawyer before he became a flak for the cops, and Bryan Stevenson has street cred. But how cool is it that Harry Belafonte will be singing love songs to Grover Norquist?
I can feel the sting of Radley Balko smacking me hard for doing what he hates, being critical of the glitterati who support a worthy cause. “Work with them, not against them.”
Yeah, yeah, because they actually want to put in the hard work of comprehending how and why this mess exists from those who toil in the trenches. Heck, since the people who make the sausage aren’t invited to their dog and pony shows, maybe we can just chat them up at the cocktail parties of the rich and famous. Oh wait, we’re not invited there either.
This isn’t a problem of grand schemes and impassioned pleas. It’s a problem of puny, messy details, repeated ten thousand times over every day. It’s not extraordinary, but ordinary. It’s not flashy and spectacular, but mundane and banal. It’s happening just down the road apiece at 100 Centre Street. How many participants in this “summit” ever stood beside some poor schmuck who was just given the option between $500 bail he can’t afford and a quicky guilty plea that will get him home to his kids?
It’s fabulous to see so many very important people, from sides of the table that rarely agree on anything, join hands to oppose mass incarceration. I can’t wait until they hold an awards show with a red carpet where we can see what designers they wear, and their very own mani-cam. Maybe Kim Kardashian can be a presenter, if she comes out in support. Or not.
But grand schemes from the very fashionable supporters of this trendy objective will never wallow in the gutter of the legal system, where the actual human beings get led to the slaughter. Of course, it’s not entirely their fault. There really isn’t any place to park their limo around the courthouse anyway. Aside from all that, what a wonderful gala event. I hope everybody had fun, and wonder what they gave away in the swag bags.
H/T Doug Berman