It has been one year since Circles of Support hosted #KNOWJUSTICEHARLEM at St. Philips Episcopal Church. Over 400 people gathered to hear Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson and a panel of community members discuss the impacts of mass incarceration. The event featured MC Craig ‘muMs’ Grant, Reverend Patrick Williams of St. Philips, and Thomas Edwards from Circles of Support.

The Circles of Support Advisory Board, made up of men and women who have been impacted by incarceration, helped plan and run the event. The board wanted to bring community members together not just to raise awareness but also to take action in supporting the Raise the Age initiative.

In just one year we have seen some big changes.

Hundreds of petition letters supporting Raise the Age were signed at #KNOWJUSTICEHARLEM and mailed to the offices of dozen of state legislators, including Speaker Carl Heastie, Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In April 10, 2017 Governor Cuomo signed Raise the Age into law. The New York State budget will change the current law so that 16- and 17-year-olds will be considered juveniles in the court system effectively raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18.

In the last year the Advisory Board has grown to 15 members who have been working hard as advocates for justice and reform. All four panelists from #KNOWJUSTICEHARLEM are currently active members of the board. Members have spoken as advocates in schools, participated in statewide rallies, and attended various conferences throughout the city.

Check back soon to see what the Advisory Board is planning next!

Photo taken by www.ashleyskatoff.com 

Photo taken by www.ashleyskatoff.com 

Lisa Cito