Upcoming Virtual Event: Monday, March 8
"Remember, Honor Act: INEQUITIES IN THE CARCERAL SYSTEM"
Voices Against Injustice and the Center for Civic Engagement at Salem State University are co-hosting a virtual panel discussion on March 8 focused on injustices in the criminal justice system. The event, entitled “Remember, Honor, Act: Inequities in the Carceral System,” will include panelist Sean Ellis, whose wrongful conviction for the 1995 murder and robbery of a Boston policeman was finally overturned after he had spent more than 21 years in prison. The story of his long-delayed exoneration is recounted in the powerful Netflix docuseries, “Trial 4.” Ellis, today a prison-reform activist, CEO of Sean K. Ellis Enterprise and co-founder of the Exoneree Network. VAI supports Sean Ellis’s statement, “There’s a problem in this country, and when I think about what is going on with Black and Brown people within this criminal justice system — we have mass incarceration, police brutality, things of that nature — there needed to be something that shed light on the injustices that are faced by us as a people.”
Ellis is joined on the panel by Chad Quintana, entrepreneur/creator of Griz Gear and community leader from Lynn, whose own post-prison life is a success story, and Brandy Henry, a clinician psychologist and Board Member of the Massachusetts Bail Fund. Panel facilitator Shar’Day Taylor, LSW, social activist and community leader, is Ellis’s sister and longtime justice advocate. She identifies herself as a growing warrior in the fight for social justice, and adds that she was raised by a powerful single mother. Her passion and desire to use her voice against injustice stems from almost losing her brother Sean, who was wrongfully convicted of a crime when Shar’Day was just 3 years old. For years, she has advocated for those whose voices have been silenced. She was instrumental in planning this event.
Last year, VAI gave the Salem Award to the Massachusetts Bail Fund for their efforts to address the bias and bigotry inherent in the criminal justice system. In our process of learning more about their work, we were moved to create a panel discussion in November and invited participants from different organizations to help expand our knowledge. The panel was facilitated by VAI Board Member Elsabel Rincon and panelists included Joan Amaral (Zen Center North Shore), Anthony Coleman (Diverse People United), Brandy Henry (Massachusetts Bail Fund), Elizabeth Nguyen (BIJAN, Boston Immigrant Justice Accompaniment Network), Riley Smith (Black and Pink), and Sara Stanley (HAWC). Interest in a second panel surfaced and some expressed a desire to hear more about the impact that the criminal justice system has on families.