2021 Social Justice Day Reimagines Criminal Justice
This year’s Social Justice Day title was Reimagining Criminal Justice: Learning the System to Change the System. The day began with a keynote address from Jonathan Kubakundimana, Program Manager at Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).
Each spring, CSW holds an annual school-wide event known as the Michael H. Feldman Social Justice Day. Formerly known as Law Day, the event was established in 1975 by Shirley and Roger Feldman in memory of their son, Michael Feldman ’67. The event explores various viewpoints on important legal and social issues of the day, creating opportunities for student discussion and debate, as well as guest speakers and presentations.
This year’s topic was Reimagining Criminal Justice: Learning the System to Change the System. The day began with a keynote address from Jonathan Kubakundimana, Program Manager at Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). Prior to joining EJI, Kubakundimana interned for U.S. District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks in the District of South Carolina, where he researched rehabilitative approaches to federal non-violent drug offenders for the nation’s first federal drug court. As a survivor of the Genocide Against Tutsis in Rwanda, he has helped lead initiatives in the United States and around the world raising awareness of genocide and other crimes against humanity.
Kubakundimana began his address to the CSW community by talking about the Death Penalty, an issue EJI sees as central to understanding the U.S. criminal justice system, and one that is deeply impacted by poverty, error, racial bias, and geography. He also talked about the work EJI has done to guide, support, and/or protect children in the criminal justice system; design and implement re-entry programs; and expose and challenge the unconstitutional and abusive conditions of mass incarceration. Kubakundimana ended his remarks by highlighting the urgent need of the United States, as a nation, “to reckon with the history of segregation and slavery” in this country, sharing EJI’s efforts to educate the public through endeavors such as the Community Remembrace Project
After the keynote, community members broke out into workshops such as, “Corrections: Mental Health and Re-Entry,” with Jennifer Padre, Assistant Superintendent and Director of Clinical Services at the Essex County Sheriff's Department; “Community Policing,” with Boston Police Officer and Vice-chair of the Latino Law Enforcement Group of Boston, David Hernandez, and Jose Ruiz, Chief of Public Safety for the City of Boston; and “Policing in the Era of George Floyd,” with Harvard Law Professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.
Students, faculty, and staff will use advisory time this week to discuss and process this year’s keynote and workshops and brainstorm ways of continuing the conversation and getting more involved in criminal justice work.