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Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (center) introduces Criminal Justice Panel. L – R : Judge Darrell Jordan, Defense Attorney Joel Androphy, Executive Assistant Chief Troy Finner, Congresswoman Lee, Congressman John Lewis, Commissioner Rodney Ellis & District Attorney Kim Ogg. (Allan Jamail photos)

Distinguished panel wants reform of Criminal Justice System

By Allan Jamail

HOUSTON, FIFTH WARD — January 24, 2018 — Hundreds of community leaders and citizens gathered to listen to the distinguished panel at the Criminal Justice Forum (CJF). The forum consisted of a broad spectrum of the criminal justice community, including elected officials, criminal justice reform advocates, law enforcement, judges, attorneys, community and religious leaders, educators, and ex-offenders.

The CJF presented an opportunity for an open and provocative dialogue about the real reforms needed in our system and to offer solutions that will bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community. Panelists of experts from law enforcement, the judicial system, elected officials, and religious leaders offered suggestions to bring a fairer result for those who cannot afford the cost of a defense and then end up wrongly sometimes being convicted. The panel addressed some very serious issues impacting the lives of Texas families and the very social fabric of our community.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee as the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime said, “The criminal justice system (CJS) in its current construct creates more criminals and victims than justice, and necessitates significant changes and reforms to ensure that all Americans receive equal treatment under the law.”

Civil Rights Icon Congressman John Lewis says, “The best non-violent action we can take to correct the unfair Criminal Justice System is to VOTE! Vote like you’ve never voted before. Get everyone to VOTE!”

Civil Rights icon Congressman John Lewis, who led the legendary March across the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Alabama, as the keynote speaker said, “The civil rights movement of our time is to reform the CJS. The best non-violent action we can take to correct the unfair Criminal Justice System is to VOTE! Vote like you’ve never voted before. Get everyone to VOTE! I remember the day when 3 young boys in Alabama were murdered just for registering voters.”

The seventy-six year old Lewis showed that he can still rally a crowd of hundreds. He said, “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate, to stand up, speak up and speak out, and get in the way, get in trouble, good trouble, and necessary trouble.”

“I’ve been arrested about fifty times for standing up against things unfair and not right and I’ll probably be arrested many times again,” Lewis said.

During the civil rights movement of the sixty’s Lewis once did something so heroic, so noble, that it helped to change the course of a nation for the better. The Georgia Democrat was beaten up savagely by white Southern racists in 1965, and everyone appreciates very much his personal sacrifice to advance civil rights.