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Smart Justice: An Evidence-Based Approach to Criminal Justice Reform in Michigan (Grand Rapids)

October 9, 2019
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

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Wealthy Theatre Annex – Front Studio (map below)
1110 Wealthy Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506 United States

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Organized by:
Jennifer Beahan
Phone: 616-698-2342 x801
Email: jbeahan@centerforinquiry.org


The Smart Justice Campaign is an unprecedented, multi-year effort to eliminate racism in the criminal legal system and reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50 percent. The campaign seeks to end excessively harsh criminal justice policies that result in mass incarceration, over-criminalization, and racial injustice that stand in the way of a fair and equal society.

Richard will provide an overview of the Smart Justice Campaign and the ACLU’s fight to end mass incarceration by focusing on evidence based approaches to eliminating racism in the criminal legal system by reforming the broken bail system, reducing prosecutorial abuse, and advocating for new laws in the state legislature. In addition to working to reverse the tide of over-incarceration, we also seek to protect constitutional rights, eliminate racial disparities, and increase government accountability and transparency to create a real justice system.

Additional Information
Exterior image of the Wealthy Theatre Annex Building
Wealthy Theatre Annex Building – 1110 Wealthy St. SE

The Wealthy Theatre Annex is two buildings down from the main Theatre Building – See Map below.

FREE Parking is available in the Wealthy Theatre lot behind the Theatre and Annex Buildings via Barth/Sigsbee or the driveway East of the Annex Building. Street parking is also free after 5pm. Handicap parking is available immediately behind the Annex Building.

After the meeting, join us at Brick Road Pizza, just down the block at 1017 Wealthy St SE in Grand Rapids, to continue the conversation, and enjoy food & drinks. See Map above or View Map on Google Maps.

CFI MI values the full participation for all attendees at our events, including individuals with disabilities, in accordance with our Event Culture and Expectations Policy. Requests for reasonable accommodation may be made by contacting the event host at least three days prior to the event.

Learn about Parking, Accessibility, and more.

Cost: FREE / Suggested Donation $5. Ways to Support CFI & Donate Online

Contact: Jennifer Beahan, michigan@centerforinquiry.net, 616-698-2342

About Richard Griffin

Smart Justice Campaign Field Organizer, ACLU of michigan

Richard Griffin is the Grand Rapids Field Organizer for the ACLU of Michigan’s Smart Justice campaign. The ACLU believes it is critical to hire people impacted by the system to do the work to fix the system. Richard is just that person. At the age of 16, he was sentenced to life in prison for a drug-related homicide.  After just two years behind bars, he knew he had to change his ways. "When I was 18, I vividly remember sitting in a cell and blaming others for my life," said Richard. "But the common denominator in everything that went wrong was me. I knew then I had to stop blaming and take responsibility, and this changed my entire outlook on life." With no opportunities behind bars, Richard knew that transforming himself was something he would have to do alone. "There is nothing in the corrections system that would foster that, no program or relationship to foster that. It has to be a conscientious effort on the individual to walk that path," he said. After spending 23 years locked up, the corrections department recognized that Richard was a changed man, and he was released. With his new freedom, he knew he wanted to dedicate his life to improving the lives of others. For him that meant helping fix the criminal justice system. When Richard isn’t working on transforming the justice system, he studies ancient religions and spirituality, something his mother also loved to do.  He says it brings his peace, as does spending time near the water. He also is a self-described “fitness freak,” who lifts weights and runs, and is an avid jazz fan obsessed with John Coltrane. Richard’s favorite quote may best describe his life: "No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell." Or in Richard’s own words: "To grow spiritually and emotionally, we will go to some rough places along the way because our greatest success is tied to our worst experience."