Gambill on Justice
Wagering on hope and the possibility of change
Gambill on Justice
I think most people would agree that the world today is a pretty messed up place. So, when you look around for heroes...don't look to those who have spent the last 30 years saying, "yes, yes, yes"...honor the people who kept saying, "no, no, no", even when it cost them everything.
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In Memorium: For my Father, Edward L. Gambill (1936-2010)
....and for my son, Justin Thomas Henry
Gambill on Justice will seek to address the conceptualization of justice in multiple contexts, including; social, criminal, historical, and civil justice. It will seek to foster a deeper understanding of connections between critical issue areas and strive to dispel the notion that extant beliefs around key constructs prevalent within a wide range of efforts such as "focus" and an ill-defined "being effective" are indeed valid. The main areas of focus are as follows; Data Privacy, the Process of Advocacy, Mass Institutionalization(s), the Legal Profession, Veterans-in-Justice, Justice in Latin America (Justicia en la America Latina), Homelessness and First Nations. The intent of Gambill on Justice is, simply put, to provoke deeper levels of thought and consideration, to foster change and to unsettle extant beliefs around how the process of advocacy should occur in order to effectuate enduring and meaningful change and reform.
Seven social sins: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.
---Young India (22 October 1925); Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi
In general, I have come to despise the business-as-usual attitude so prevalent (and so bloody obvious) within the Non-Profit sector around a broad swathe of social justice issues. From the inception of LBJ's Great Society in 1963-64 to the present day, the creation of a plethora of government agencies, foundations and so-called Non-Profits have emerged to address everything from homelessness to veterans-in-justice and from racial justice and justice reform to foreign relations. Seldom, do the often well-paid"advocates"standing at the apex of these various infrastructures have much of anything in common with the constituencies they are charged with representing. There is very little original thinking taking place and even less in the way of bold and fearless action. The over-arching concern centers around funding, the propagation of advocacy effort after advocacy effort is neutered, as a result. By the time an effort enters into the mill of public policy and legislation. Minor advances are touted as major victories....and those who ostensibly benefit, benefit precious little the vast majority of the time. In short, we have forgotten how to think critically. We have also grown accustomed to a the notion that there exists no other way to conduct advocacy efforts--an erroneous assertion.
We allow those often bereft of personal experience in advocacy effort after advocacy effort to set agendas and speak on our behalf. The Mission of this web-site is to draw connections, and to aggressively challenge the modus operandi of the non-profit, philanthropic and government sectors. Citing "topical focus" and "incremental change", organization after organization obfuscates one simple set of facts: In issue area after issue area they have failed, miserably. It's a big bite to take, but we are going to take a shot at it anyway. The people of the Republics of the Americas once had a broader say in their lives, in their collective destinies. We can take our own governance back into our own hands....all we have to do is demand change and quit deluding ourselves into believing that extant leadership, across the nations of the Americas, have the interests of their respective peoples at heart. Demonstrably, that is a false assessment. My mission statement-and my intent-is to cause discomfort, where needed. My mission is to challenge, foment change, and get people to think for themselves for a change. To recognize that true change is not an impossibility, it is merely a matter of resolve.
Summary of Content
Site will provide a space dealing with veterans, mass institutionalization, data privacy, the process of advocacy, the legal profession, mental health, homelessness and immigration as these issues intersect with justice. In the realm of veterans, for example, we will look at the historical aspects of the problem, veterans in justice, the role veterans play in a broader criminal justice reform movement, as well as, burgeoning efforts such as the rise of the veterans courts and other alternatives in justice for veterans of the Armed Forces. Justice advocacy, in the reformist context, will also be analyzed: For example, who is conducting the advocacy on behalf of veterans in justice, in the context of veterans treatment courts? Are prevailing advocacy models in keeping with the interests of veterans, as a group, and society as a whole? Furthermore, we will scrutinize the criminal justice language used in a number of domains, specifically those mentioned in the first sentence of this paragraph, and discuss how those domains interact and inform one another. Justice advocacy within each domain or conducted on behalf of the various sub-populations often becomes formulaic and just as often, largely rendered to a rote repetition which seldom yields more effective response(s). If the criminal justice reform movement, as it now stands, is to proceed and mean something in the lives of those it purports to represent some fundamental alterations must be undertaken in the method and process of justice advocacy. Over time, the site will expand resources for lesser served sub-populations and, through the provision of both Forums and a Blog seek to foment discussion around a variety of justice-related topics.
Veterans Courts have become the public response to the problem veterans in interaction with the justice system. Yet other models of intervention on behalf of veterans are or have been on the table; the use of CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) for Law Enforcement members, Veterans Sentencing Mitigation Legislation, pre-plea and pre-trial intervention models within court systems. Veterans Treatment Courts are merely one option among many.
This site will also deal with such things as data privacy and the various remedies for dealing with the residual effects (the collateral consequences) which persist long after a sentence has been executed. Pardons, expungement, the sealing of criminal records, as well as, the persistence of criminal records within the public domain long after court remedies for sanctions have been effected. In closer examination of the unintended consequences of justice contact, such as the ability to find employment, adequate housing, credit, government benefits and education will also be examined. Mass institutionalization(s), law enforcement, the legal profession, and mental health responses will also be topics under consideration.
In addition to the above foci, the site will also include Spanish-language pages dealing, firstly, with the nations of Central America (including Mexico) and, further down the road, the rest of Latin America. These pages may be referenced under the heading La America Latina (Justicia en la America Latina). The areas of concentration here will be threefold;
a). General legal references (codigos penales y civiles) and commentary upon them, from a variety of sources.
b). The "War on Drugs" (La Guerra en Contra las Drogas), and,
c). Family and Domestic Violence (la violencia intrafamiliar)
Also worthy of mention is the intersection between homelessness, affordable housing and justice interaction. The site will also dedicate a section dealing with these topics with a particular focus on the decriminalization of homelessness.
Lastly, the site will provide resources on legal reform and on reforming the legal profession, the language(s) of justice, and the use of language as a mover for social change within an entrenched non-profit and foundation sector with little to no interest in changing the status quo. Part of this objective will be achieved by reviewing a number of Minnesota-based initiatives conceived of and\or largely led by the site owner, including; The Minneapolis-St. Paul Decriminalization of Homelessness Task Force, The Council on Crime and Justice's Racial Disparities Initiative, "Ban-the-Box", Minnesota's Second Chance Day on the Hill, Minnesota's Veterans Sentencing Mitigation Legislation, Housing and Communities of Color, and a variety of lesser- known efforts and initiatives. These reviews will serve as a vehicle for pointing toward the persistence of the aforementioned social problems and a manner in which we might examine why sincere effort after sincere effort gets filtered, diluted and, in the end, changes not much of anything at all.