The United States incarcerates more individuals than any other country in the world. In Pennsylvania in 2017, there were 48,438 individuals incarcerated and five-year recidivism rates persisted at over 60 percent. Consequences of incarceration include addiction, death, job/housing insecurity, and trauma. Poor communities and people with marginalized identities are disproportionately impacted by the laws and structures in place.

Allentown Black Lives Matter protest in front of the Lehigh Valley jail, Spring 2020. Photograph courtesy of Marco Calderon

“[This community has] opened my eyes to the deep, systemic issue within the criminal justice system and opened my heart to the humanity of the individuals stuck inside it. It’s lead me to pursue an education and career in restorative justice where I hope to be an advocate for change and share the voices of those our society deems unworthy. We are all worthy of love, understanding, and redemption.”

2019 course graduate and think tank member