Justice

Judge Carlos Moore has a unique approach to the justice system in which he serves—one that many people find refreshing.

Moore is a municipal judge and attorney in Mississippi. He's also the President-elect of the National Bar Association and is listed as a "Rising Star" in African-American Leadership Magazine's 2020 Top 100 Influential African-American Leaders list. In 2017, he made national news when the first thing he did after being sworn in was remove the Mississippi state flag from his courtroom. (Up until this year, the Mississippi state flag had the confederate flag, widely seen as a symbol of white supremacy, as part of its design.)

Unafraid to take bold steps to ensure justice is served in a way that actually improves people's lives. One way he does that is using alternative sentencing—giving unique, creative, individualized consequences instead of standard fines or jail time.

Moore wrote in an Instagram post:

"As a judge I love alternative sentencing especially for young people. Today I announced that I would give an 18 year old young lady a break on a speeding ticket if she brings me back proof that she voted in next Tuesday's general election or writes 500 word essay on the importance of voting. Then I told a young 17 year old man that if he pulled up one of his Cs to a B by his next report card I would withhold adjudication on a misdemeanor ticket. Our young people are our greatest treasure and if I can encourage them to be their best and do their best I'm happy."

"I believe in alternative sentencing especially when dealing with young people who have accepted responsibility for their wrongs," Moore told Welcometoterranova. "I believe that by giving the young people unexpected choices or alternatives to jail or a fine I can have a bigger impact on their lives and futures. I really favor rehabilitation over pure punishment."

Moore's approach has fans. As psychiatrist and author James Gilligan wrote in the New York Times in 2012, "If any other institutions in America were as unsuccessful in achieving their ostensible purpose as our prisons are, we would shut them down tomorrow." Alternative sentencing such as community service or restitution—or more creative options such as Moore's "get your grades up" or "show me you understand civic duty"—appeals to those of us who understand that punitive measures are not always the most effective. A study from the Macarthur Foundation found that when people are informed that rehabilitation is more effective than incarceration, people were willing to pay more in taxes to support it.

Rehabilitation also saves money overall. In an article in The Conversation, Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, a professor of economics at the University of Birmingham, wrote that community sentences cost on average a quarter of the amount as prison sentences and reduce crime more than prison sentences do.

But for Moore, alternative sentencing is primarily about what's going to be best for the young person in front of his bench.

"I want all that appear before me to be better upon and after meeting me than before doing the same," he says, adding, "I think anyone who administers justice must also know how to show mercy."

Justice must be served, but justice doesn't automatically mean handing down harsh punishments. Providing young people an incentive to improve is perhaps the best way to prevent crime—it requires them to take responsibility while simultaneously instilling hope and faith in their own futures.

More of this wholesome, reasonable approach to criminal justice, please, and thank you for providing the example, Judge Moore. We love to see it.

If you've watched HBO's documentary The Vow, you're familiar with Keith Raniere. The 60-year-old founded and ran NXIVM (pronounced "nexium"), a sex cult that masqueraded as an expensive, exclusive self-help group, but which appears to have served as a way for Raniere to get his rocks off while controlling and manipulating young women.

Raniere was convicted by a jury in July of 2019 of a host of crimes that include racketeering, sex trafficking, and sexual exploitation of a child, according to CNN. On Tuesday, he was handed a sentence of 120 years in prison by a federal court in Brooklyn. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis also forbade Raniere from having any contact with NXIVM associates and fined him $1.75 million for his crimes, which Garaufis described as "cruel, perverse, and extremely serious."

The Daily Beast described the bizarre NXIVM cult as "an ultra-secretive organization that preached personal growth through sacrifice" and that had amassed an estimated 17,000 members since it started in 1998. Raniere was a charismatic leader who used the lure of the organization to indoctrinate women, pressure them into have sex with him, and engage in various forms of abuse. In a disturbing twist, the organization was largely run by women, and five of them—including Smallville actress Allison Mack and heiress to the Seagram's fortune Clare Bronfman—were charged along with Raniere, some pleading guilty to the racketeering and forced labor charges.

More than a dozen victims either spoke out or issued statements at Raniere's sentencing, including a woman who was just 15 years old when Raniere began having sex with her—or more accurately, raping her, based on her age. She said psychologically and emotionally manipulated her, leading her to cut herself off from her family. He also took nude photos of her, which led to his child pornography charge.

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The Rt. Rev. David M. Reed Bishop of West Texas

The first bishop elected to the Episcopal Diocese of Texas was a slave owner who pushed for loyalty to the Confederacy during the Civil War. The first church in the diocese, Christ Episcopal Church in Matagorda, was built by slaves. Now, Texas Episcopalians are addressing the church's history of racism and slavery by dedicating $13 million to help heal the communities injured by it.

Funding from the Missionary Vision for Racial Justice initiative will go toward "racial reconciliation projects and scholarships" at historically black colleges, seminaries, and organizations in Texas. Some will also help underwrite work by the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that created a lynching memorial in Alabama.

Bishop C. Andrew Doyle, the head of the Texas diocese, met with 38 representatives of historic black churches, inviting them to collaborate on what the church can do to work toward racial justice.

Though the Episcopal Church is one of the least racially diverse in the nation—90% of its members are white and only 4% are black— church leaders have publicly advocated for racial justice, including testifying before Congress in favor of the idea of reparations for slavery in 2019.

Reverend Michael Curry, the first African American to be elected as the denomination's top bishop in the U.S., wrote in a letter that the initiative "to be honest, took my breath away" when he first heard about it.

Doyle told the Houston Chronicle that some people may take issue with the $13 million initiative because of its focus on the past, but said that we can't build a just and equal future without reconciling historical injustices.

"When we believe that God is big enough to mend the broken, we should not be afraid of naming truths that are part of our history…All of our futures are tied to our past. There isn't one future that is somehow disconnected from the story that got us here, and we must be willing to see the connectedness of the past to see how it shapes our future.

There is still a lot of institutional racism and a good measure of change is still needed."

Doyle has pointed out that this initiative is just one step in the process of racial healing. Let's hope more churches and organizations take similar steps to acknowledge and atone for the sins of the past in ways that will open the way for a more just and equitable future.

A surveillance video reveals a disturbing scene in front of a hospital ER in North Carolina when a teen with apparent mental health issues was assaulted by the people who were called to help.

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